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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Luke 5:1-11, 5:27-32; John 1:35-51

Story Summary

In addition to the story recorded in Luke 5, the other three Gospels also record various aspects of Jesus calling and appointing his disciples. We encourage you to read these accounts as well:

  • Matthew 4:18-22 (calling of the first disciples), 10:1-4 (Jesus sends the Twelve out)
  • Mark 1:16-20 (calling of the first disciples), 3:13-19 (Jesus appoints the Twelve)
  • John 1:35-51 (calling of Andrew, Peter, Phillip, Nathanael)

The Luke account is a good one to focus on with the kids because it contains a wonderful and memorable story.

Jesus is preaching by the Sea of Galilee (Luke calls it the Lake of Gennesaret) and he notices two boats that had been left there by some discouraged fishermen. Simon, James and John were fishing partners and they had a tough night of fishing. They worked hard and didn't catch a thing. So they had hung it up for the day and they were cleaning their nets.

Jesus asked them if he could use their boats to preach from since there were so many people. Simon Peter agreed and took him out just a little bit into the water. Jesus finished preaching and told them to put out into deep water again and let the nets down for a catch. Simon told him that they had just worked all night and didn't catch a thing, but "because you say so, I will let down the nets". They heard the words of Jesus and knew there was something special about him. So they had enough faith to do this thing he asked them to do, even though they didn't have any expectation that it was going to actually work.

But when they let down their nets, they caught such a huge catch of fish that their nets began to break. They had to go get help to bring in the amount of fish they had caught without sinking their boat. 

Simon Peter was terrified at the power this Jesus displayed and fell on his knees and said, "Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man!". But Jesus told him not to be afraid and that from now on, they will catch men. So those 3 men left everything they had - their boats, nets, and fishing business - and followed Jesus. They became some of the first disciples of Jesus.

Through the other accounts in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, we learn that these 12 men become Jesus' closest friends and disciples. Jesus was closest with Peter, James, and John. 

Here are the names of the 12 disciples (Mark 3:16-19 gives a listing):

  1. Simon Peter (Simon was his given name, Jesus re-named him Cephas, or Peter, which means "rock")
  2. Andrew (Peter's brother)
  3. James (son of Zebedee)
  4. John (James' brother, also a son of Zebedee - the two of them were known as the "Sons of Thunder" - cool nickname!)
  5. Philip
  6. Bartholomew
  7. Matthew (also known as Levi, the tax collector)
  8. Thomas
  9. James (son of Alphaeus)
  10. Thaddaeus
  11. Simon the Zealot
  12. Judas Iscariot (the one that betrayed Jesus)

What You Will Need

Supplies
Fishing gear
Snack Suggestion
Fishing Snack Activity

Resource Sheet

Jesus Calls His Disciples Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Jesus providing a miraculous catch to his soon-to-be disciples

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Do any of you like to fish? What gear do you use to fish? What kind of fish do you catch?

Have you ever caught anything strange - something other than a fish?

Today, we are going to learn about some men in the Bible that Jesus told would fish for men!

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Luke 5:1-11

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Where was Jesus preaching when he called Simon Peter to be his disciple? (the Sea of Galilee)
  • What were Simon Peter, James and John doing when Jesus came to them? (washing their nets, because they had just finished fishing throughout the night)
  • Why did Jesus want to get in their boat? (to preach from the boat since there were so many people around him)
  • What did Jesus ask Peter to do after he was done preaching? (push out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch)
  • What was Peter's response? (he told Jesus that they had just finished fishing all night and didn't catch anything, but because he asked them to, they would do it)
  • What happened next? (they caught so many fish that their nets began to break and they had to bring more boats to haul in all of the fish)
  • Who was Simon Peter's brother? (Andrew)
  • What was James and John's nickname? (Sons of Thunder)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • Peter, James and John left everything they had to follow Jesus. They became disciples of Jesus, which means they followed him, listened to what he had to say, and did everything Jesus asked them to do.
  • Are you a disciple of Jesus? Do you follow Jesus?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry. James 1:19

Reinforcement Activities

Disciple Fishing Game

Scripture He and everyone with him were amazed at the number of fish they had caught. So were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who worked with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will catch people.” Luke 5:9-10

Supplies stick, string, magnets, fish print outs (see below)

  • Print and cut out the fish with the disciples' names on them (see Disciples Fish Printout below)
  • Tie a piece of string to the end of a stick.
  • Glue a magnet to the end of the string.
  • Attach magnets to the fish.
  • Allow children to fish for disciples.
  • Have them read or repeat the name when they catch the fish.
  • You can make it more challenging by asking them to catch a certain disciple. (Fish are turned upside down, so children can't see the name) Give them three chances to catch the correct fish.
  • Or, students can be on teams and earn points by getting 2 points for catching it on the first try and 1 point for getting it on the second try.

Disciples of Jesus game

Scripture Here are the names of the 12 apostles. First are Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. Then come James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. Next are Philip and Bartholomew, and also Thomas and Matthew the tax collector. Two more are James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus. The last are Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Matthew 10:2-4

Supplies Disciples Footprints Printout (below)

  • Print 1 or 2 sets of the disciples footprints printout below (depending on the size of your class)
  • Place around room on the floor.
  • Play music.
  • Stop music at random intervals and call out a disciple's name. Each child must run to a footprint with that disciples name listed.
  • The last child to find the disciple's name and put their foot on it is out.
  • Keep repeating until there is a winner.
Disciples of Jesus game Example

Disciple Tag

Scripture Here are the names of the 12 apostles. First are Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. Then come James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. Next are Philip and Bartholomew, and also Thomas and Matthew the tax collector. Two more are James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus. The last are Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Matthew 10:2-4

Supplies large playing space

  • Choose one person to be "it and one person to be Jesus.
  • "It" tries to tag the other players.
  • If a player gets tagged, Jesus must come and listen to you name at least 6 (or more or less depending on age of children) of the disciples to be unfrozen.

12 Disciples in a Row

Scripture Here are the names of the 12 apostles. First are Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. Then come James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. Next are Philip and Bartholomew, and also Thomas and Matthew the tax collector. Two more are James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus. The last are Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Matthew 10:2-4

Supplies paper, scissors, disciple name cutouts

  • Fold paper like an accordion.
  • Draw a half of a person onto end fold.
  • Cut out person.
  • Glue or write the names of the disciples onto each person.
  • You can do groups of 4 or 6 and tape them together, so you don't have to use really large paper.

Jesus Conga Line

Scripture “Come. Follow me,” Jesus said. “I will make you fishers of people.” Mark 1:17

Supplies Large play space

  • Have one person be Jesus.
  • The rest of the class stands around the room.
  • Jesus begins dancing through the room, picking up people along the way.
  • As each person joins, Jesus calls out the name of another disciple.
  • Choose another student to be Jesus and begin again.

Fishers of Men

Scripture One day Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee. There he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake. They were fishermen. “Come. Follow me,” Jesus said. “I will make you fishers of people.” Mark 1:16-17

Supplies pieces of net, paper, glue, paper strips with Bible verse, crayons

  • Draw a picture of people on your paper.
  • Glue a piece of net over the people.
  • Glue as strip of paper with Mark 1:16-17 onto the top of the craft.

Fishing Snack Activity

Scripture One day Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee. There he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake. They were fishermen. 17 “Come. Follow me,” Jesus said. “I will make you fishers of people.” Mark 1:16-17

Supplies goldfish or swedish fish, twizzler ropes, pretzel rods

  • Pour goldfish or swedish fish into a cup for each child.
  • Tie twizzler ropes to the pretzel rods to make fishing poles.
  • Stick pretzel rod fishing pole into side of cup.