One of the times that Jesus called Peter to follow Him was after He did a miracle that allowed Peter to catch so many fish that the weight of them made his boat and his friends’ boat began to sink. Jesus told Peter that from that moment on he would catch men instead of fish. This activity lets children try to catch a “miraculous catch of fish.”
- Sheet or large piece of fabric to act as the “net.”
- Bucket filled with balls (the type you find in a “ball pit” in a children’s play area)
- Select a space to play the game, and set up your materials.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “One of the times that Jesus called Peter to follow Him was after He did a miracle that allowed Peter to catch so many fish that the weight of them made his boat and his friends’ boat began to sink.” (Ask volunteer to read Luke 5:1-11.)
- “Did you hear that?”
- “Jesus told Peter that from that moment on he would catch MEN instead of FISH.”
- “That had to sound strange to Peter.”
- “But it was also a good way to explain to him how his life would change after this moment.”
- “Jesus used fishing language to help Peter understand what was going to happen.”
- “So, who do you think is the better fisherman? Peter or Jesus?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “Right! Jesus is much better, because He created the fish and can command the fish to get into the net.”
- “Peter can’t do that.”
- “Jesus was helping Peter to understand that He was God by using fishing – something Peter understood very well.”
- “Peter was an expert fisherman and had spent all night fishing but caught no fish.”
- “So, when Jesus knew right where and when to put the net into the water, Peter realized this wasn’t just good luck.”
- “This was God.”
- “Let’s play a game to help us remember the story.”
- “I would like for everyone to grab an edge of this sheet.” (Hold up sheet, and help children to find a place to grab along the edges. Makes sure there are children all around the sheet and that they use both hands.”
- “You are all the fishermen, and the sheet is your ‘net.’”
- “I’ll play Jesus.”
- “I have a bucket full of ‘fish.’ They are really balls, but we are going to pretend they are fish.”
- “When I dump out the ‘fish,’ you should try to catch all of them in your ‘net.’”
- “If you drop some fish, you can collect them, put them back in the bucket and try again.”
- “Does anyone have any questions?” (Answer questions, and then start the game. Pretend to dump the fish several times before actually dumping them, and try to make it a little challenging so that the children have to work together to capture all the fish in the net. Play several rounds, and allow some of the children to play Jesus if you like. Then ask the Debrief Questions below.)
- Why do you think Peter said to Jesus, “Get away from me, Lord! I am a sinful man!” after they caught all the fish?
- What do you think Jesus was trying to teach Peter and the others?
- What did Jesus mean when he said that they would now fish for people?
- Why did the fishermen leave everything (even all the fish that they had just caught) to follow Jesus?
- What would you have done?
Peter was worried about not being able to pay the required tax to the Temple. Jesus knew what was bothering him even before Peter could say anything and told Peter to go fishing, which is what Peter did best. In the mouth of the first fish Peter caught, he found a coin that allowed him to pay the tax for both Jesus and himself. Children will “go fishing” in a pool and try to catch all the fish with coins before they catch too many without coins.
- “Fishing pole” (You can use a simple dowel rod with a string attached and a magnet at the end of the string.)
- Dowel rod
- String (about 3-foot long)
- Strong magnet
- Tape to stick the string to the magnet (unless there is a way to tie them together)
- Children’s plastic pool (the kind toddlers can sit in)
- Flat, toy or paper fish with strong magnets attached (24 total – 8 of which should have coins taped or glued to the bottom)
- Fish (24)
- Magnets (24)
- Coins (8)
- Create the fishing pole.
- Tape magnets to all the fish.
- Tape coins to eight of the fish.
- Place all the fish at the bottom of the pool with the coins on the bottom. Make sure to mix them up so that it won’t be too easy to find the fish with coins. It’s okay for some to overlap.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
· “One day, the tax collectors (the guys like Matthew, one of the apostles) from the Temple came up to Peter and asked, ‘Does your teacher pay the temple tax?’”
· “Peter answered, ‘Of course he does!’ but the truth was, he wasn’t sure.”
· “So he quickly went to see Jesus and ask Him about it.”
· “But before Peter even had a chance to speak, Jesus knew what he was about to ask.”
· “Jesus said, ‘Peter, so that we won’t offend the tax collectors, go down to the lake and throw in a fishing line. Open the mouth of the first fish that you catch, and you will find a coin. Take the coin and pay the tax for both of us.’”
· “So Peter did just as Jesus said.”
· “He went down to the lake and threw in a fishing line.” (Pretend to cast your fishing pole.)
· “Almost immediately, he felt a fish on his line, so he tugged at it as hard as he could and pulled the fish in.” (Pretend to struggle reeling the fish in. Be careful not to accidentally reveal one of the fish with the coin attached to the bottom.)
· “When he opened the fish’s mouth, he found a four-drachma coin! (That’s a coin they used back then.)”
- “That was just enough to pay both Jesus’s and Peter’s tax!”
- “That’s amazing, right!”
- “Well, let’s play a game based on this story.”
- “Here’s how it works.”
- “Each one of you will get three chances with this fishing pole to try to catch a fish with a coin attached.”
- “If you catch a fish without a coin attached, you should put it back into the pool.”
- “If you catch a fish with a coin, you can pull it out.”
- “After three turns, we will let someone else try.”
- “There are eight (8) fish with coins attached.”
- “We will keep fishing until we catch all of them.”
- “The one who catches the most wins.”
- “Does anyone have any questions?” (Answer any questions. Then let the children play. The first person to try can be the person with the next birthday. After you’ve played the game, you can use the debrief questions below to reinforce the teaching points.)
- Have you ever caught a fish with a coin in its mouth?
- Why do you think Jesus had Peter go fishing in order to pay the Temple tax for Peter and himself?
- What was Jesus trying to help Peter understand about who Jesus was?
- What should this experience teach Peter about worrying about things?
- What should we do when we are worried about some problem in our lives?