John, the Fisherman

We are continuing our Eyewitness to Easter series with the apostle John.  Like Peter, John was a fisherman.

When we meet John, he is going about his trade.

“Jesus went on a little farther. He saw James and his brother John who were sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat mending their nets.”   {Mark 1:19}

John is with his brother and father and as we’ll see later with another fisherman, Simon Peter.

Who was Zebedee?  His name means “gift of God”.  From scripture we can presume he was a fisherman.  We know he has at least two children, James and John.  Given the fact James is always mentioned first, he is probably the older of the two brothers.

So, who was Zebedee’s wife?   Scripture does not tell us, but it does leave a strong indication.  When scripture names the women present at the crucifixion, we are told “”Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”  {Matthew 27:56}.

So we know Zebedee’s wife is still alive when Jesus is crucified, but what is her name.  Another gospel tells us “”Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome” {Mark 15:40}

From this correlation, it is strongly believed that Salome was the mother of Zebedee’s children and his wife.

So, let’s go back to that first meeting with Jesus.

“Going from there, Jesus saw two other brothers. They were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were sitting in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them.”   {Matthew 4:21}

James and John are brothers.  When Jesus approached, they were with their father Zebedee.  They were going about their daily work of mending their nets and how no idea how their lives were about to change.

Jesus was beginning his earthly ministry at this point had not become a household name. 

A man walks up to them and says follow me.  One must wonder how they felt.  We have some indication from scripture.

“James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were surprised also. They were working together with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will fish for men.””   {Luke 5:10}

The men were taken by surprise and apparently filled with fear, because Jesus told them not to be afraid.

Jesus also gave them a new title.  Instead of being fishermen, they would fish for men.  As the Holman Bible states, “now you will catch men”.

Did you notice who is with Zebedee and his sons?  Simon was with them.  We will come to know this man as Simon Peter.

Are you willing to catch men for Jesus?

Photos from

Eyewitness to Easter Series: Peter, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.