|He Qi 'Calling Disciples' (2001)|
It is with this alternative context in mind that Matthew introduces Andrew and Peter. But there is a further subtle and important difference. In John’s version, Andrew and Peter take the initiative in seeking Jesus out. In Matthew’s version, it is Jesus who encounters them fishing and calls them , as he does James and John. What is more, he calls them to leave not only the work they are engaged in, but everything that they have. Their response is usually held up as exemplary. 'Immediately they left their nets and followed him'. But what about Zebedee who is left sitting in the boat? Has he no claim on the sons he has raised, and on whose labor he will depend in old age?
Matthew’s version of the call to the disciples is echoed in many other parts of the Gospel. Following Jesus is repeatedly spoken of as being all consuming, even to the point of abandoning family responsibilities. Doesn’t this mean that Christian discipleship requires a kind of fanaticism? How could we answer such a call ourselves, given our love for parents and children, our belief in the value of what we do, and our obligations to the wider community?
|Vassily Polenv James and John (1904)|