Ethos Education

Captain Phillips: How did Jesus choose who to call to follow him?

Leave a comment

Learning Objectives:

  • Consider key moments in the ministry of Jesus.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Reflect on the merits of different selection criteria when choosing a team.
  • Analyse a film clip to determine different ways of choosing between people.
  • Analyse Bible passages to see how Jesus went about choosing his disciples.
  • Reflect on the nature of the disciples that Jesus chose.
  • Synthesise learning by writing newspaper reports about the activities of Jesus and his followers.


Ask the students to imagine that they have been put in charge of choosing the England football team (feel free to change this to some other kind of team if you think that your students are unlikely to respond well to a football based scenario). How would they go about choosing their side? Would they simply pick the eleven best players and then fit them into a formation, or pick the best player for each position even if that meant leaving out talented players? Try to keep the students away from discussing specific individuals and get them to discuss the philosophy and principles of team selection rather than actually select a team (although you could let them go on to that if you wanted to). You might want to tell the story about one of England’s world cup winning side from 1966, Jack Charlton, who once asked manager Alf Ramsey why he was in the side. He got the reply that Charlton wasn’t as good as some of the players that he was picked ahead of, but he was a better fit for a particular role in the team.

Explain that in this lesson you are going to be thinking about the people that Jesus chose to be his followers.


Introduce the clip from the film Captain Phillips (Sony, 2013, certificate 15). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Explain that Muse (Barkhad Abdi) is a Somali pirate. In this scene he and another boat captain have to recruit crews for their boats as they prepare to go hunting for a bigger ship to capture. Ask the students to pay particular attention to the things they consider when choosing who to take and who to leave behind.

  • Start time: 0.03.55 (in chapter 1 of the DVD)
  • End time: 0.07.20
  • Clip length: 3 minutes and 25 seconds

The clip starts with armed men in a Somalian village. The caption ‘Eyl, Somalia’ appears on the screen. It ends with Muse’s crew going to the boat, while those not chosen grumble. The last (subtitled) lines are, ‘Why did he pick him? He’s from another village.’

Ask the students whether there was any difference in the way the two captains chose their crews. Draw out that the first captain seemed concerned with what his potential crew members could give him in return for a place on the boat, whereas Muse went either for people he already knew (like Bilal) or by the skills that potential crewmen had (‘I can steer your boat’; ‘I need somebody strong’). Which do the students think is the better basis for choosing a crew? Which crew would be more likely to perform well?

Ask the students to read the following Bible passages in small groups. You could either let each group look at both passages or assign each group to one or the other: Luke 5:1-11, Luke 5:27-32.

Did Jesus choose the kind of people he might have been expected to choose? Were his first followers powerful or influential people? What criteria did Jesus seem to apply when making his choices? How does his process compare with the two boat captains in the previous section?

Explain that many of Jesus’ first followers weren’t obvious choices for someone intent on the kind of public ministry that Jesus was undertaking. None of them came from the religious leaders of the community. Many of them were uneducated, poor or from sections of society that were looked down on by others. Nevertheless, Jesus saw qualities in them that he knew made them suited for what he had in mind.

Now read Matthew 16:13-20 with the students. Point out that Jesus chooses Peter as the rock on which he will build his church. In the gospel narratives Peter shows himself to be rash, impetuous and hot-headed, and yet Jesus saw other qualities in him. The wise leader shown in the book of Acts and in the letters to churches that feature elsewhere in the Bible (1, 2 and 3 Peter) show that the unrealised potential spotted by Jesus was to come to fruition in the fullness of time. The continuing presence of the church as a worldwide body today shows that Jesus was correct in his assessment of Peter as the man to provide the foundation for the church.


Ask the students to write a series of newspaper reports: one about Jesus’ calling of the first disciples and others at different stages in Jesus’ ministry and the history of the early church. The following Bible passages might be useful as the basis for the students’ reports:

Luke 9:1-6; Luke 22:54-62: John 21:1-19; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 4:1-22.

Each student should write at least three separate reports.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s