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Monday, April 23, 2012

How Did Jesus Choose Disciples?

Luke 5:1-11 and Matthew 4:18-21 tell slightly different versions of the calling of the first disciples, but there are enough similarities to suggest that they are describing the same event.  The similarities are easy to recognize:  in both accounts the location is the Lake of Genneserat, also sometimes called the Sea of Galilee.  

Mark's Gospel is also very similar.  Jesus had begun to gather a following as an itinerant  preacher.  The Sermon on the Mount is believed by many scholars to be a sort of summary of several preaching tours and their messages.  These three accounts describe his preaching to crowds and give some details of the contents: He called for repentance and obedience.  

The Sermon on the Mount goes into greater detail and gives examples of the reality of his message in the lives of the listeners. It was not until after John the Baptist  was put in prison that he became bolder and more urgent in his preaching.  

The Gospel of John does not give any details about the birth of Jesus.  Both John and Mark begin with the baptism and give details about the recruiting of disciples.  John does not mention the time in the wilderness but Mark does.  When Jesus returned from that time of testing and prayer, John the Baptist told some of his disciples that this was the one to follow.  He said, "Look. the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world."  These disciples were Andrew and John.  When they asked Jesus as a sort of an introduction where he was staying, he invited them, "Come and see."  

He had moved from his boyhood home in Nazareth to the town of Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee.  They visited him and they brought other people to meet him too. Andrew brought his brother Peter, and John brought James.  Andrew was from the same town as Philip. Then, Philip brought Nathanael. At first, it was just to get acquainted.  The serious call to be a disciple  came later. He also identified some they didn't bring who he would eventually make a part of his band, like Levi.  

When he decided to call them to become disciples he began with two of the fishermen, Peter and Andrew.  Then John and James who were also also fishermen and co-workers in the the business. Philip and Nathanael came as a result of Philip's invitation to "Come and see." In Luke"s account Levi was the next one to be called, but in Matthew's account, he was not called until after an extended preaching tour. He was a tax collector. Both Luke and Matthew record the big feast Matthew held to announce that he had joined in the band of Jesus's followers. 

Sometimes the memories of the writers focus on what was important to them.  It is a puzzle of memories and observations and we must read it carefully to find the clues that reveal the person and work of Jesus.  It is both challenging and wonderfully exciting.

Bible references are from the NIV.  Read Matthew 4:18-21, Luke 5:1-11, John 1:28-50, Matthew 9:9-12, Mark 1:16-20 to find other details.