When I was a child I was mystified at how Jesus could walk along the quayside and
call the fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John, to be his disciples, even though
they were in the middle of helping their father Zebedee, effectively leaving him
in the lurch.
We are given the impression that this was their first encounter with Jesus. But
read St.John’s Gospel, chapter 1, verses 37-39, and you get a very different picture!
After Jesus’ baptism – probably because of what John the Baptist said about Jesus
– two of John’s disciples went after Jesus. He turned round and asked them “what
are you looking for?”. They responded “Rabbi, we want to know where you are staying”.
He replied “come and see” – and they spent the rest of the day with him.
Immediately, as a result of that meeting, Andrew went and found his brother Peter
and said “we have found the Messiah” (the Hebrew word means “anointed” or “chosen”
and refers to the revolutionary Leader they were all longing for, who would free
their nation from Roman domination. See – St.Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24, verse 21).
Andrew takes his brother to Jesus and it is because of this that he is regarded
as the patron saint of missionaries, being himself the first “missionary”.
In St.Luke’s Gospel chapter 5, verses 3-11, Jesus is teaching crowds at Bethsaida
and uses one of Peter’s boats as a “pulpit”. Afterwards Our Lord told them to cast
their nets and despite having been fishing all night without catching anything they
eventually complied and had a massive catch. Peter is overcome and apologises for
doubting Jesus, who responds “from now on you will be catching men!”
My childhood impression of that dramatic calling at the lakeside to be “fishers of
men” wasn’t ‘out of the blue’ for them or for Jesus! Nevertheless, I still can’t
reconcile the picture I was given of them deserting their father and I think there
must have been some author’s licence or psychological manipulation going on.