Matthew’s Gospel contains a story that has often puzzled me. In Matthew 4:18-20, he records Jesus walking near the Sea of Galilee and inviting several fishermen to follow Him. For the rest of their lives. I am always shocked to read that they immediately drop everything and walk off with Him. It all seems so abrupt.
This group includes Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John. By choosing to follow Jesus, they were leaving financial security, social standing, and family ties. How did they know it was the right decision? Was Jesus commanding them to exercise blind faith, without asking reasonable questions about why they should? Actually, these fishermen had been given plenty of evidence before this request was made.
1. Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:40). He certainly knew that the time of the Messiah had come, and was already convinced that Jesus was the one.
2. Both Andrew and Peter had spent time with Jesus (John 1:35-42). In fact, Jesus had given Peter the nickname of “Cephas” on an earlier occasion!
3. These fishermen had heard Jesus teach. In Luke 5:3 we learn that Jesus used Simon Peter’s boat as a platform for teaching earlier in the day.
4. All four fishermen had just seen Jesus perform a miracle. After an unproductive night of work, Jesus intervened and caused them to catch so many fish they couldn’t get them all in their boat. In fact, there were suddenly so many fish that their boats started to sink (Luke 5:4-11).
Reading only Matthew’s account of this event leaves a person wondering why someone would walk away from their entire livelihood to follow a guy on the shore wearing the garb of a rabbi. In reality, that’s not the whole story. God does not demand that we obey and follow Him without any evidence.
God did not give us a mind by mistake. Nor does He expect us to avoid using our ability to think rationally. A follower of Christ must live by faith, but you don’t have to power off your brain in order to do that! The first disciples were able to follow Jesus because of the evidence, not in spite of it. Thankfully, the same is true today.