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The Call of the Disciples
(Mark 1:14-20)The word 'disciple' means 'someone who learns' or 'a follower of someone'. At the time of Jesus many Jewish teachers would have had their own disciples. These disciples would listen to their master's teaching and try and learn it by heart. However, Jesus was different from other Jewish teachers in two significant ways. Firstly, a Jewish teacher would often wait until people decided to follow him. In the gospels it is Jesus who tells his disciples to follow him. There is a sense of urgency. The kingdom of God is close at hand; there is no time to lose. Secondly, most Jewish teachers chose disciples who were well educated. Jesus chose ordinary people such as fishermen.
The call of the disciples would have been of great interest to early Christians, firstly because the Apostles were held in great reverence throughout the Church, but it was also highly relevant in a missionary Church to stress that acceptance of the Gospel could involve a call to leave home and friends. The call is first to be disciples, with a promise that later they will become fishers of men. The emphasis of the account is on the sacrifices they were ready to make.
They left their nets 'at once'; the call of Jesus was one of authority and required unconditional obedience. It is likely, however, that these men had encountered Jesus previously. According to John 1:35-42 Andrew, who was a disciple of John the Baptist, spent several hours in the company of Jesus, presumably before he was called.