They were Peter, Andrew, James and John, weren’t they? We know the story in Mark chapter 1: walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, Jesus called to the fishermen, “Come, follow me!” My Bible even heads the passage, THE CALLING OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES. And for years I thought so too.
But they weren’t! Because in verse 14 Mark begins that very passage with, “After John [the Baptist] was put in prison…” So?
Well, go back to John chapter 1, when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan. This was therefore before the Baptist was imprisoned. Probably six or seven months earlier. Here we read that two of John’s disciples, Andrew and John the Apostle, saw Jesus and followed him, wanting to know where he was staying. They followed him, but he didn’t call them. He just said, “Come, and you will see.”
Andrew then brought his brother Simon to Jesus, who promptly renamed him “Peter”. But he didn’t call him then either. Then we read this (John 1:43): The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
So the first disciple Jesus called wasn’t Peter, it was Philip! And Jesus specifically sought him out! Therefore when he was walking on Galilee’s shore, he’d already known three of the fishermen for at least six months.
It wasn’t a spontaneous impulse, but a prayerfully considered timing.