Four Disciples Called

The kind of discipleship taught by Jesus differed from that of the rabbis. His followers were called to leave everything behind if need be, and to dedicate their entire lives to HIS mission and HIS message. They were called TO FOLLOW HIM regardless of where he led them. In contrast, students educated in the rabbinical schools became disciples of the Torah, not of individual teachers.

Simon, Andrew, James, and John were not poor by the standards of their day. Their families owned boats and nets. There is even mention in the gospel accounts of “hired help.” Fishing was an essential business that occupied entire clans and even towns. Investments in nets and boats would have been substantial for a small family business.

Four Fishermen - Photo by Cassiano Psomas on Unsplash
[Photo by Cassiano Psomas on Unsplash]

The fishing trade was important to the economic life around the Sea of Galilee Ancient records indicate that fish from the lake were exported to cities as far away as Antioch in Syria and Alexandria in Egypt.

  • (Mark 1:16-20) - “And passing by near the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them: Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And straightway, leaving the nets, they followed him. And going forward a little, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, and them who were in the boat putting the nets in order. And straightway, he called them and leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, they followed him” – (Parallel passages - Matthew 4:18-22, Luke 5:1-11).

Simon and Andrew had some level of education. Very likely, they spoke languages in addition to Aramaic, including Greek, the language of commerce in the eastern Mediterranean region. For that matter, “Andrew” is a Greek name.

The Gospel of Mark describes their calling with the vivid term “straightway,” that is, “immediately,” a favorite word in Mark. Simon and Andrew responded “immediately” by leaving their occupations and family assets. This suggests a departure with little to no hesitation on their part.

Jesus instructed them to follow him. Thereby, they would become “fishers of men” and proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom to the Jewish nation. Thus, his call to discipleship was a summons to service for the Kingdom.

In the more detailed account in the Gospel of Luke, the multitude present that day “pressed upon him and heard the word of God, while he was standing by the lake.” At that point, Jesus entered Simon’s boat and “sat down and taught the multitudes” along the shoreline - (Luke 5:1-11).

Afterward, Jesus commanded Simon to leave the shore and lower his nets. He and his compatriots had toiled all night with little to show for it. But upon obeying Jesus, "they enclosed a great multitude of fishes,” so much so, their nets were at the breaking point.

When Simon saw this, he prostrated himself at the knees of Jesus and begged him to depart, “For I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Simon, James, and John were amazed and confused, but he told them, “Fear not. From now on, you will catch men.” It was at this point that the four men left all and began to follow him.

This first instance of calling disciples became the pattern of the Nazarene’s ministry throughout Galilee. The “Kingdom of God” was at hand. Already it was invading the Earth. Therefore, now was and is the time for immediate and decisive action in response to the Messiah’s call.



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