Περιπατῶν δὲ παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδε Σίμωνα καὶ ᾿Ανδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ βάλλοντας ἀμφίβληστρον ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλιεῖς· (GNT)And walking by the sea of the of Galilee, he beheld Simon and Andrew his brother casting a casting-net in the sea; for they were fishermen. (AB)1:17
As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. (ESV)
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων (GNT)And [2said 3to them 1Jesus], Come after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. (AB)
And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." (ESV)
καὶ εὐθέως ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα αὐτῶν ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ (GNT)And immediately leaving their nets, they followed him. (AB)
Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (ESV)
καὶ προβὰς ἐκεῖθεν ὀλίγον εἶδεν ᾿Ιάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ ᾿Ιωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πλοίω καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα (GNT)And having advanced from there a little, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, and them in the boat readying the nets. (AB)
Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. (ESV)
καὶ εὐθέως ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν Ζεβεδαῖον ἐν τῷ πλοίω μετὰ τῇn μισθωτῶν ἀπῆλθον ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ (GNT)And immediately he called them. And having left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hirelings, they went forth after him. (AB)
Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. (ESV)
Jesus calls the first of his disciples (vv.16-20):
As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.The Gospel of Luke records this a bit differently, giving us some more detail:
And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.
Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. (Mark 1:16-20 - NASB)
He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.My imagination is really stoked by the reading Luke's account of these happenings. I can really "see" it happening, and I find that it makes me read it again and again. I try to picture it from the point of view of an observer there that day:
And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.
When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets."
When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!"
For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men."
When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. (Luke 5:2-11)
Jesus, is walking along the shore of lake Gennesaret teaching and talking to a crowd of people. (He's already been going around that area in Galilee teaching, so people were starting to follow Him in numbers.) It's getting to be a large enough crowd that it's difficult for Him to speak where they all can hear Him. So, here are a couple empty boats, not necessarily His boats mind you, but still He just gets into one of them and asks Simon Peter to "put out" just a little bit off shore so that he can speak to and teach the people.
After Jesus is done teaching, and perhaps we assume that Peter has been listening (maybe he's doing some things on the boat while he listens, it doesn't say here, I just imagine it that way, maybe), He then tells him to just go out a bit into the deeper water and put the nets in to bring in a catch.
Now, if I'm Peter at this point, I'm becoming more than curious about this man; He just walks onto my boat and commands me to take Him out, then He proceeds to teach people from the boat (as if I don't have things that need to get done - I mean, I've been working all night and I'm tired...), when He's finished He then tells me how to do my job. Do we get any hint of this as Peter tells Him, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets." He doesn't understand it, but he does as He says.
First, why is Peter calling Jesus, "Master"? The Greek word here is επιστάτα (epistata) and would seem to imply that Peter saw him as a superior, but maybe not specifically as a Rabbi, just "one placed over others". It has not yet been revealed to Peter who Jesus is, in the sense that He is the Christ (Matthew 16:17), so we conclude that Peter is only calling him "Master" to indicate respect and honor as one deserving such. Perhaps he assumes as much since this Man has a following of people that seem to hold Him in esteem, worthy to listen to and gain instruction. Another thought: perhaps this man, Jesus, isn't a stranger to Peter. Maybe Peter is already a casual follower of sorts. This may explain why it doesn't seem strange that Jesus would just get in Peter's boat and that Peter just obeys Him without question.
Second, Peter is a fisherman by trade, yet he obliges Jesus' request to fish during the day (instead of at night, as was the practice) and to go away from the shore (whereas fisherman usually stayed close to the shore). Why? Is he "humoring" Jesus like a local that decides to just go along with the crazy requests of the out-of-town guest? Again, maybe this hints at some sort of already established relationship. Some commentators suggest that there are some allegorical truths to be learned in this passage. One could be seen in Peter's willingness to obey what seemed to him to be a ridiculous request, but one that was performed with some manner of faith, and bore a reward in the large catch. Perhaps.
Getting back to Mark's account, the details of the story are omitted and we simply have,
As He was going along by 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 become fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.Once again, Mark moves us right along as immediately they left what they were doing and followed Him. Jesus calls, they leave behind the life they've been living, and follow Him.
I have to ask at this point, does this describe me at all? When I heard Jesus' call to follow Him, did I leave behind the life I had come to know, and follow Him? Quickly I realize that this "follow me" is not a request or an invitation, but a command. This is an imperative call to action, not a request wherein Jesus stands by holding His hand out, wondering if the brothers will respond. How is this similar (or not) to the way we present the Gospel to those to whom we witness today? If this passage had been written by a modern evangelist, it might sound more like this:
As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.Obviously that doesn't sound anything like what we know to be the way Jesus calls His disciples. And the people of 1st century Israel would have noticed this as well, since it was not customary for the disciples to be called by the teacher, but it really was the other way around. Teachers, or rabbi's, would have been approached by prospective students asking to become followers.
And they said to Him, "Will you come into my heart and help me to have a better life?"
Immediately, He came into the their hearts because they had asked Him to, and then they went back to their lives, assured that they'd go to heaven one day because they'd asked Jesus into their hearts.
Another thing that would have raised an eye brow or two is that Jesus wasn't calling the usual followers. These men were not seeking Him, as we've already seen, but even more, they weren't seeking anything aside from their providing for their own welfare by their chosen trade. Even today, we see the Lord calling people out of their self-centered lives, and placing them on a path leading to His glory, not theirs; calling them to serve others, not themselves; calling them to seek the lost from amidst a crowd of "fish" that are not seeking to be "caught".
Then, in vv. 19 & 20, James and John are called in very much the same way that Simon Peter and Andrew were. But we see that James and John were called away from what appears to be a successful family fishing business, at least one doing well enough to have hired hands. They left their father and their family to follow Jesus.
At first, I'm bewildered as I try to understand this, this leaving everything familiar to strike out on a new life. But I guess it's not all too unfamiliar to our culture to see the young do this. Often young adults will leave the home to pursue their "dreams" or a career or education. Yet, as popular culture has become more and more aware of "wacky cults", we'd be concerned if a family member or close friend picked up and moved away to follow some guy and his new religion.
So, I wonder how their father Zebedee (and family) would have perceived this apparent abandonment. Is there anything in scripture that could shed some light on this? Initially, I find that James in the same Apostle that was martyred by Herod in Acts 12; and John is the Apostle that wrote five books of the New Testament: the gospel of John, Revelation, and 3 epistles. But what about preceding this encounter at the sea shore? Or anything we can know about the family? Their mother is mentioned in Matthew 27:56 as one of the women that had followed Jesus, ministering to Him.
Aside from this I cannot find anything else that explicitly reveals anything about their family. However, some commentaries suggest that James and John were cousins to Jesus, and they say this is corroborated by Jesus leaving the care of His mother to John, as he would have been a relative and this was not uncommon in Hebrew culture. Another clue that may show some connection between the Zebedee family and Jesus' family is from Barnes' Notes on the New Testament:
"John was admitted by our Saviour to peculiar favour and friendship. One of the ancient fathers (Theophylact) says that he was related to him.
"Joseph," he says, "had seven children by a former wife, four sons and three daughters, Martha, Esther, and Salome, whose son John was; therefore Salome was reckoned our Lord's sister, and John was his nephew."
If this was the case it may explain the reason why James and John sought and expected the first places in his kingdom, Mt 20:20,21 . These may also possibly be the persons who were called our Lord's "brethren" and "sisters," Mt 13:55,56 . This may also explain the reason why our Saviour committed his mother to the care of John on the cross, Jn 19:27."
These things may be little more than interesting tid-bits of history and genealogy of those that lived with and knew Jesus when He walked this earth, but I also think they help me to see more of the humanity of Jesus. As a child, I always pictured Him as a sort of "exchange student" in Joseph's and Mary's home, living with them but not really a part of the family. As I get older and learn more about the details of His life through study of the Word, I find that I'm getting to know Him better in all aspects of Who He is - fully God & fully human.