Part II: DISCIPLES BEGIN LEARNING BY OBSERVING
Immediately after the get-acquainted encounter recorded in John 1, “There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee… Jesus…was invited, and His disciples.”(John 2:1-2) It appears that His presence “with His disciples” at the wedding was prior to the famous seashore summons. The “disciples” referred to here were still considering permanent association with Jesus. This group probably did not include James and John. Nathaniel was part of the “come and see” group that visited with Jesus where John the Baptist was baptizing – but Nathaniel did not end up as one of the twelve. He very well could have been one of the “disciples” at the wedding with Jesus.
In contrast to the disciples’ later roles in feeding the 4,000 and 5,000, at this point they were observers as the miracle wine was served to them by the household servants. Jesus had not as yet given His new recruits any assignments. He was allowing them time to watch Him in action. We can only imagine their amazement at the things they saw and sensed as they accompanied God in human flesh. Here they have an early “look”, watching Him turn water into wine to help the host “save face” by providing adequate food supplies for the wedding feast.
(John 2:12) “After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother, and His brothers, and His disciples; and there they stayed a few days.” Mark picks up the story line here. Apparently the fishing brothers separated from Jesus and His family members to put in some fishing time. Before arriving in Capernaum, Jesus was preaching in Galilee (1:14), and went by the Sea of Galilee (1:16f). There He gives the seashore call to Peter and Andrew to follow Him – after they had had considerable time to associate informally with Him. This was a “job offer” – a formal invitation to intern with Him for the specific goal of becoming “fishers of men”. Certainly Peter and Andrew had told their business partners and friends about their “come and see” contact with this newly famous cousin of John the Baptist. Jesus called Peter and Andrew first, which very likely influenced James and John to join their partners in business to become partners in mission. This may have been Jesus’ first face-to-face contact with James and John.
Reunited with Peter and Andrew, and now joined by James and John (1:21), “they went into Capernaum.” Their observation experiences continue in the local synagogue as they hear Jesus give amazing teaching “as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (1:22-27) and then He casts a demon out of a tormented man. I am sure the scribes were disturbed by the negative comparison with their teaching – a rancor that would snowball until the crucifixion.
Next stop after the synagogue for the group was (Mark 1:29) “…the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediatelythey spoke to Him about her.” The disciples were observing Jesus responding to human need, and took the initiative to inform Jesus about her condition. “He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.” (1:31) Jesus meets her need, and the group’s need of meals was also met through her immediate preparation of food. This seems to be the first recorded action on the part of the disciples toward participation in Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus gave them plenty of time to observe the things He did and the way He did them – before even inviting them to assist Him with His ministry activities. What a view they had, seeing things that would forever stay with them as learning experiences.