Jesus calls Simon Peter (Andrew), James and John away from their fishing boats.
WORKSHOPS & ACTIVITIES:
Arts (model fishing boats), Kitchen (fish shaped pretzels), Drama (a puppet play), Game (Fishers of People), Music (work songs from the sea), Computer (make your own quiz using Fall of Jericho, SS; compose song in Garage Band).
Luke 5. 1 - 11. READ THIS.
Luke 5.9 - 10.
For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken…. Then Jesus said to Simon: “Don’t
be afraid: from now on you will be catching people.” (New
Revised Standard Version.)
AFTER STORYTIME IN CHURCH, ALL CHILDREN MEET FOR GATHERING TIME, BRIEF REVIEW, THEN GO TO SCHEDULED WORKSHOPS.
BACKGROUND NOTES (& OTHER NEAT INFO):
ABOUT THE FISHING TRADE IN JESUS’S TIME
These fishermen were in the fishing trade or business. By times fished by night, sometimes not catching much. Needed strength
and perseverance. They weren't just weekend anglers out at the local stocked trout pond. They left behind a family vocation
when they walked away from their nets and boats to follow Jesus.
WHAT THESE BOATS LOOKED LIKE.
A Google image search for a Sea of Galilee fishing boat gives a consistent idea of what their craft may have looked like.
Here’s one picture with sail tied up and a bit of interior and net.
Here’s another picture showing full sail. This entire website has quite a neat sampling of photos from the Jesus Boat model (and of excavated original) located on the grounds of the Kibbutz En Gev.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL DISCIPLES.
In Jesus' time, Jewish boys spent some time studying the scriptures. Some of the gifted ones went on to become scholars. If
they spent a lot of time with one specific teacher, they were known as 'disciples' of that teacher.
LOYAL, NOT SCHOLARS.
However Jesus chose as disciples people that were thought of as more ordinary, not particularly wealthy or well-educated.
These four humble, full of doubts and foibles fishermen formed the stout heart of Jesus' body of followers.
• a follower or pupil of a leader, teacher, philosophy, etc. (The Canadian Oxford Dictionary). Discipline: training,
esp of the mind and character aimed at producing self-control, obedience, orderly conduct, etc.
Was a major industry at the time, done mainly with nets (sometimes hooks).
ABOUT THE SEA OF GALILEE
Also call the Sea of Tiberias or Gennesaret. Is where Jesus began his public ministry. Is a major fresh water source.
Here’s an okay wiki map of the Sea of Galilee showing contemporary bordering countries.
The corresponding article here has lots of interesting info.
Here’s another short helpful article with good contemporary colour photos. Note the model boat about half-way down this page.
And here’s an article with a few more biblical cross references.
WHERE ARE THE WOMENFOLK IN THIS STORY?
Well they don't exactly come up in the fishing boats. But women are named early on among Jesus' disciples. Luke 8.4 lists
Mary, Joanna and Susanna.
LET’S NOT FORGET THE MOTHER OF THE SONS OF ZEBEDEE
Canadian writer and former moderator of the United Church of Canada doesn’t let us forget their mother. Here’s
how Wilson concludes her section on this character in her book, Stories Seldom Told, p. 143:
“Apparently the mother of the sons of Zebedee entered upon a path of struggle, of resistance to unjust structures, and
of costly service, before her sons did. Like the other male disciples, they fled when things became too tough. She stayed
with Jesus all through that last agonizing week. She stood with the other women under the cross, in solidarity and mutuality
with Jesus. She risked the danger to her life from Roman authorities, as did the other relatives of crucified persons (Matthew
27:56) by that simple act of solidarity. She knew Jesus would stick by her, even though she was one of the “least,”
and she reciprocated.”
FUN WITH TRANSLATIONS
Just for fun, compare the language in the key verse noted on the overview page (Luke 5. 9 - 11) from the NRS Version to the
following perhaps more familiar, if much less politically correct, phrasing from the King James Bible:
"For he [Simon Peter] was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of fishes which they had taken: And so was
also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth
thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him."
FUN WITH THE GOSPELS
For another bit of fun, compare this with the parallel story at Matthew 4: 19 (KJB), which finds Peter fishing with his brother
Andrew, and James and John mending nets with their father Zebedee . Here again the language is familiar but not p.c.: "And
he [Jesus] saith unto them, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."
ABOUT THE FISH SYMBOL
Ichthys (pronounced ik'-thus). The fish symbol made from 3 half-circles commonly recognized as representing followers of
Christian beliefs. Seen in first century catacombs in Rome. This story is just one of many in the Christian canon involving
fish, thus making the ichthys an understandable symbol. The Greek letters that spell out ichthys also form an acronym for
a statement of Christian faith:
Iesous Christos Theous Yios Soter (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour).
ABOUT FISH SYMBOLISM.
Let’s turn to one of our experts on this, Canadian writer and scholar Northrop Frye. The following is from ‘Biblical
and Classical Myths (Toronto: U of T Press, 2004), p. 88:
“We begin to understand now why there is so much about fishing in the Gospels, and why Jesus is so persistently associated
either with a fish or a dolphin, which has a reputation for saving people out of water. The salvation out of water comes
into the story of Peter on the Lake of Galilee, again with the same general overtones. The world in which we live is metaphorically
a subterranean world or a submarine world, depending on which element we choose. So from one point of view, the flood of Noah
has never receded. There’s an old puzzle about what happened to the fish at the time of the flood. One of the simplest
and most direct answers is that we are the fish. We didn’t drown, but we have had our supply of oxygen severely
IN THE ARTS
Just a few pieces of fine art depicting this story:
• Calling the Disciples by He Qi.
• this from 1608 by Jan Breughel the Elder
• and this at Jesus Mafa.com
We will be looking at a lot of songs of the sea and ships in the music workshop of this lesson set.
But the song that jumps out the most is the nursery rhyme-esque, “I saw 3 ships come sailing in.’
Roger McGuinn has a nice entry on this piece on his Folk Den website. Click here for lyrics and mp3 file with McGuinn’s arrangement of this song.
Look no further than Herman Melville’s Moby Dick from 1851 for more Biblical allusion on boats and the sea than you
can shake a mainmast at.
Where to start?! How about the description of the pulpit where protagonist Ishmael catches a service before signing on the
Pequod with that madman Ahab:
“[The pulpit’s] panelled front was in the likeness of a ship’s bluff bows, and the Holy Bible rested on
a projecting piece of scroll work, fashioned after a ship’s fiddle-headed beak.
“What could be more full of meaning? – for the pulpit is ever the earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes
in its rear; the pulpit leads to the world. From thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first descried, and
the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is that the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable
winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit its prow.”
Isn’t that a definition of discipleship if you ever heard one?!?
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. If Jesus called you, do you think you would be able to drop whatever you were doing and follow him?
2. What do you think you'd have to give up or leave behind?
3. What does 'follow Jesus' mean to you?
4. What would the life of a modern disciple of Jesus look like?
5. Have you ever had an experience where you had to change plans and do the unexpected?
6. How did it feel to take this leap of faith?
Please find below suggested workshops for this unit. For each one, when you are in real time with the children:
1. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity. Each week, see how much more detail each group of
kids can supply on the story they've been studying.
2. Link or explain your activity to the current story.
ARTS WORKSHOP 1 – MODEL BOAT
ACTIVITY: MAKE A MODEL OF THE TYPE OF FISHING BOAT THE DISCIPLES MIGHT HAVE USED FOR THEIR DAY JOBS. WILL HELP THE CHILDREN
CONNECT WITH THE KIND OF WORK THEY DID AS FISHERMEN.
• small or medium milk cartons, or recycled cereal boxboard
• craft sticks or twigs
• quick drying craft glue or glue gun
• dowels or sticks for masts
• cloth square for sail
• plasticine blobs to mount masts
• yarn to tie up mast
• scissors to cut slits across top of sail to thread across mast
• netting from onion bags or top of Clementine orange crate for fishing net
• construction paper to cut out fish (or people) to fill net
To make this boat, form the shape of the hull according to photos. (Looks like the boat had a pointed bow and stern and ridged
keel. But I would probably make a flat bottom with the kids so the boat will rest without tipping). Or use the milk cartons
with top side cut away as a hull. Glue sticks along sides to look like wood contruction. (Craft sticks would be better than
twigs to look like boards, but twigs may be cheaper). Glue gun cross of sail to main pole. Stick mast in plasticine blob,
then press into boat bottom. Cut and slide on sail. Tie up sail with yarn if you wish. Affix netting to ship. Fill with paper
fish – or people – to connect with the story. You could also add paper or clay fishermen.
THIS JUST IN --These turned out really well! Click on thumbnail of Susannah's model boat below for larger view.
ACTIVITY: Make fish symbol shaped pretzels. Kids will learn the significance of the fish symbol (ichthys) thru this activity.
1 (11 ounce) can refrigerated breadstick dough
1 egg white
coarse salt, for dipping
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Unroll and separate the dough. Stretch by rolling into a long rope and shape into whatever you desire.
3. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Beat the egg white until foamy. Brush on pretzels and sprinkle with salt.
4. Bake 12-18 minutes or until golden.
ACTIVITY: PERFORM PUPPET PLAY FOR THE CALL OF THE DISCIPLES STORY.
MATERIALS: puppets, puppet theatre, script.
Click here for a script for younger and older children.
THIS JUST IN --The kids had a lot of fun with this. Even used the new set of puppets they made in youth group for the Sunday
school. For a picture of the cast, click on thumbnail below:
ACTIVITY: PLAY A PAPERCLIP FISHING GAME. WILL REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT THE FIRST DISCIPLES WERE FISHERMEN.
• dowel or stick to make into fishing pole
• string or yarn
• large trombone size paper clips
• construction paper
• blue mat or blanket for the water
If you have a lot of kids, consider setting up two or more stations. Make a pole for each station. Tie line to pole, then
tie paper clip to end. Unbend end of clip to form hook.
Kids can make the fish. Have them cut large 4 – 6 inch fish (or people!) shapes out of construction paper. Attach a
clip to the top of each figure.
Go around circle, giving players same number of turns. Player who hooks the most fish wins.
ACTIVITY: HAVE A SING ALONG WHERE YOU TEACH THE KIDS SONGS FROM THE SEA. WILL GIVE THE CHILDREN A SENSE OF THE SCOPE OF WORK
AND NATURE OF THE VOCATION THAT JESUS’S FIRST DISCIPLES LEFT IN RESPONDING TO HIS CALL.
A good place to start looking for music is Roger McGuinn’s website, the Folk Den.
Former member of the band ‘The Byrds,’ McGuinn has been collecting many English language folk songs on ths site,
posting explanatory notes, lyrics, guitar chords, and free downloadable mp3 files of his arrangements to go with these public
domain songs. Here are a few songs on his site:
• The John B’s Sails
• Haul Away Joe
• Heave Away
• Squid Jiggin’ Ground. (Good notes here.)
• Shenandoah. Also has good notes.
Find many more sea songs for many more ports of call by clicking the link to Seafaring songs on the homepage of McGuinn’s
The activity that went with this in year 1 would probably still work, especially if you add some new songs to your sea shantey
portfolio. We copied a set of lyrics for each song in the workshop, and gave each child a folder with all the song sheets.
This was their songbook, let’s call it a ‘Disciple’s Songbook,’ and they made covers decorated with
stickers and markers for their songbooks.
ACTIVITY: HAVE THE KIDS USE THE MAKE YOUR OWN QUIZ PROGRAM ON THE ‘FALL OF JERICHO’ CD FROM SUNDAY SOFTWARE. WILL
HELP THEM REMEMBER KEY PLOT POINTS OF THIS STORY.
• ‘Fall of Jericho” CD from Sunday Software. (You can go over this in the ‘Life of Christ’ CD
Computer -- New idea -- just in.
Over Christmas, my Gr. 7 daughter noodled away non-stop at a music making program called Garage Band.
There's such a strong connection to music in this unit, why not try this --
Have the kids compose, in teams, a piece of music in a program like Garage Band, that sets out the narrative of the mood of
the disciples who were called away from their nets. What instrumentation will they select to begin. Start with a work rhythm,
then think about how to reflect Jesus' call. How would you represent the fear of leaving a familiar way of life. What musical
line reflects the kind of hopefulness they would have had to have felt to take the risk of following him....
QUICK SUMMARY OF WORKSHOPS FROM CALL 1
* ARTS/ Stained glass ichthys
* DRAMA/ Improv play about the call of the disciples
* MUSIC/ Teach & learn sea songs; make up songbooks
* COMPUTER/ Puzzles and other activities