“One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.”
“One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.”
“One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”
Three of the gospels tells us the story of Jesus calling his first apostles. Some cover just the basics while others go into great detail. The first is Matthew who was one of Jesus’ apostles and gives a first hand account of what he experienced. Second is Mark, who himself was not an apostle but was the apostle Peter’s secretary. Lastly there is Luke who was the travel companion of Paul. All of these men were in some way connected to the story they were writing and each of them had a unique way of getting the story across.
I wanted to share all of these versions so that we could see the full story. We can learn a lot about what happened by looking at the multiple accounts. All the stories found in the gospels are important but I chose this particular one because this is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and the start of our story as His followers.
I took many leadership classes in college and one of the lessons that always stuck out to me was the importance of the first follower. The first follower is just as important as the leader because without the first follower the leader is just a person with an idea. The first follower gets the ball rolling and starts the movement. In this story we see this happen. Jesus approaches some fishermen just doing their jobs and asks them to make a radical change. He asks them to stop what they are doing, leave their secure jobs, and even leave their families to start on this journey with Him.
Two things stand out to me about these passages. First is that he asks two sets of brothers to join Him. As you probably know, starting something new is always hard if you don’t have support. Just think about going to the gym or eating healthy, if it is just you then it is far more difficult then when you have someone to hold you accountable. I believe that is why Jesus reached out to these brothers first. He knew that this would be a life changing experience for them and He wanted to make sure they had one another to lean on when things got hard. The second thing that stood out to me was their immediate response. Maybe it is just me but in a moment like this I would probably want to think it over and possibly even sleep on it. Jesus was asking these men to give up their lives to follow Him. That is not a small price to pay… but as we know it is the best sacrifice we can make.
As we look at these passages we can learn a lot about how we should respond to God’s calling for us. First, we should take it seriously and consider it a blessing to be seen worthy to be the hands and feet of God. Second, God’s plan for our lives should include others. We should have a support system that is consistently pouring into our lives and giving up the encouragement that is needed to navigate our path. Finally we should not hesitate when asked to follow Him no matter how extreme or scary the call might be God has a plan. He equips the called not called the equipped.