Matthew 4:18-22 (CJB)
As Yeshua walked by Lake Kinneret, he saw two brothers who were fishermen — Shim‘on, known as Kefa, and his brother Andrew — throwing their net into the lake. Yeshua said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men!” At once they left their nets and went with him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers — Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan his brother — in the boat with their father Zavdai, repairing their nets; and he called them. At once they left the boat and their father and went with Yeshua.
It helped me a lot to read Luke’s account of this same story, because now I understand the four fishermen better. In Matthew’s account, it seemed like Jesus just yelled from the shore at Peter (Kefa) and Andrew as they were fishing to abandon their livelihood and start following Him immediately, and so with James and John (Ya’akov and Yochanan) as well. It was as if these four men didn’t know Jesus from Adam, yet blindly and suddenly decided to devote their lives to Him. Luke gives different details that almost seem to conflict with Matthew’s telling at first glance, but it seems like you can put the stories together and see a fuller, more complete account of what transpired:
- Jesus was walking around the lake and saw Peter and Andrew throwing their net into the lake (Matthew 4:18).
- [Time passes] and He’s teaching, and crowds are pressing in. He sees 2 boats on the edge of the lake, but the fishermen were washing out their nets. He gets into Peter’s boat and asks him to row out a bit. He teaches from the boat. When He’s done, He tells them to put out their nets. Peter says they did already (see #1), but caught nothing. They obey anyway and their nets begin breaking because of all the fish. They get help from their partners in the other boat. Everyone was amazed including the partners, who happen to be James and John (Luke 5:1-10a).
- Jesus invites Peter and Andrew to to follow Him (Matthew 4:19 & Luke 5:10b).
- Peter and Andrew leave everything to follow Him (Matthew 4:20; Luke 5:11).
- Jesus [and Peter and Andrew] go on together and come upon James and John again. They were repairing their nets with their father. (They were witnesses to Jesus’ teaching and miracles, as Luke tells us, and I infer that their nets are broken because of what happened in Luke 5:6-7.) Jesus calls to them, and they also leave everything (Matthew 4:21-22).
So they witnessed His teaching, experienced His miracles, and got to know Him personally a little before committing their lives to Him. That makes more sense. No blind, dumb idiots here. Also note that Jesus witnessed their long, frustrating, and fruitless day on the water as he preached on land. He let them live it. Unexpectedly, after they’d given up, He met their needs. Their experiences made His miracle that much more meaningful and amazing simply because He (lovingly) allowed them to suffer. If He’d jumped in the boat early in the morning and brought in the fish, it wouldn’t have been the same. He never allows suffering without a reason.