I was recently reading John’s account of when Andrew, John, Peter, and Philip first followed Jesus and I learned something pretty incredible.
I learned that every lesson I’ve ever heard or taught about the call of the first disciples has not been entirely accurate.
If you read each account in the four gospels (Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:14-20, Luke 5:1-11, and John 1:35-51), you’ll notice that while Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s accounts line up, John’s account is very different. I challenge you to take a few moments and go read each of the four stories.
At first glance, you might even think to yourself that the Bible is contradicting itself. How could their accounts be such a completely different set of events?
Well, since I believe that the Bible is true and that it doesn’t contradict itself, I started reading each story and what’s around those recorded events.
And what I discovered has radically changed my perspective of the call of those four fishermen. I’ve always been taught that when Jesus approached the four fishermen by the Sea of Galilee, that they immediately dropped everything for a stranger. That their faith and trust was so great that they were willing to leave their nets behind and follow Jesus.
Honestly, I’ve always had a hard time accepting that. What kind of person drops everything for a stranger? Not the kind who didn’t really understand who Jesus was until after He ascended. (John 2:18-22)
I could accept and relate to Luke’s account a little more because Luke records that Jesus performed a miracle at that event. That might compel me to action.
But still, it was a little difficult to believe and relate to if I’m being honest.
And then there is John’s account, which seems to tell the story from a whole different set of events.
So after reading and researching, I discovered that when Jesus told the 4 fishermen to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men, Jesus was not a stranger to them. In fact, those men had already been following Jesus for several months when He found them by the Sea of Galilee. We know this because John’s account actually occurs months before the event recorded by the other gospels.
The key point in the timeline is John the Baptist’s arrest. If you read Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there’s a key phrase that occurs: “After John was put in prison.” (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14, Luke 3:19.) So, when Jesus approached the four fishermen by the Sea of Galilee, John the Baptist was in prison.
If you read John’s gospel, however, his story occurs the day after Jesus’ baptism (John 1:35). This means that when Andrew, John, Peter, and Philip first started following Jesus, John the Baptist was still preaching and baptizing. This tells us that the story John recorded was a completely separate event from the one recorded in the other three gospels!
This discovery has shifted my entire perspective on what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. In Jesus’ day, it was very common for a disciple to maintain their vocation while studying under a teacher. This is exactly what Andrew and John would have been doing as a disciple of John the Baptist and what they continued to do for the first few months of following Jesus.
When Jesus came to the four fishermen by the Sea of Galilee and told them to follow Him and they would be fishers of men, this was the moment that they dropped everything and started following Jesus full-time.
My question to you is this: are you a pre-John’s arrest disciple or a post-John’s arrest disciple? Are you trying to follow Jesus part-time or are you all-in? Have you risked everything? Have you trusted everything to Him?
The good news is that you don’t have to completely understand or even fully believe everything Jesus says to be all-in. The disciples initially recognized Him as the Messiah, but they didn’t fully get it until after Jesus ascended. But that didn’t stop Jesus from using them to advance His kingdom.
I love the song, “Jesus Be the Center,” because of the perspective of Jesus being the center rather than the first. If something is first on a list and gets taken away, everything below it just moves up. It’s very easy to replace. However, if something is in the center and you remove it, everything falls apart. It’s a noticeable absence.
If I removed Jesus’ influence from your life, would everything fall apart? Would you even notice? How much of your life would be affected? How much of an influence does Jesus truly have in your decision-making?
Are you a fully devoted follower of Christ?
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
Written by: Alice Lothman