Updated: Jan 17, 2022
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INTRODUCTION. In this story Jesus calls four disciples to him. Earlier at least three of the four (Peter, Andrew, and probably John) had followed Jesus and "abode with him that day" (John 1:35-42). Now the four are called and this time they left all and followed Jesus (Luke 5:11). Matthew and Mark probably refer to this same event but do not relate the miracle (Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20).
The scene takes place at the Sea of Galilee, sometimes called in the New Testament the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1) and the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1). The sea is in a valley, 685 feet below sea level, surrounded by mountains, and is about thirteen miles long and over seven miles across at its widest point. The depth of the sea ranges from 80 feet to 160 feet. The water is clear and sweet and such a beautiful, deep blue that during the season when the hills are green, the sea has been described as a sapphire in an emerald setting.
The Sea of Galilee has an abundance of fish of many varieties, and commercial fishing was an important industry in the time of Christ. Various methods of fishing were used.
A cast net was a circular net of fine mesh with the open edge of the net weighted with bits of lead. The fisherman, holding the net in the center, would cast it from the shore into shallow water so that it would fall flat on the surface and enclose a school of fish. He would then draw the net towards him. Another method used a drag net. This was a net several hundred yards long with lead weights on the bottom edge and floats or corks on the top edge. Sometimes the fisherman fastened one end of the net on shore, then pulled the other end with the boat around in a semicircle back to the shore. Other times the net was drawn between two boats to catch the fish which were then gathered into the boat. When the fishermen returned to the shore, they sorted the fish by size and variety, keeping the good and throwing back the bad.