Did Jesus meet the disciples along the sea of Galilee where he told Peter and Andrew that he would make them fishers of men or did Jesus meet the disciples along the Jordan river shortly after he was baptized by John the Baptist? Can both accounts be accurate or is this a controversy in the Word of God? Let us begin our journey into understanding this apparent conflict as Jesus walks along the sea of Galilee.
"Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after them. And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught."
Mark 1:16-21 King James
Here is the account of Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee and encountering Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John. It has been taught that this is the first encounter that these disciples have with Jesus, however, the book of John records Peter's and Andrew's first encounter with Jesus differently.
"Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
John 1:35-42 King James
In this account Andrew and someone else overhear John speaking of Jesus the day after he baptizes Jesus in the Jordan river and the two disciples of John follow Jesus. Andrew then goes and gets his brother Simon (Peter) and brings him to meet Jesus. Of these two accounts this clearly is the first encounter that Peter and Andrew have with Jesus.
Does this make the account of Jesus encountering Peter, Andrew, James and John by the sea of Galilee any less accurate. No, it only means that when Jesus encountered them as he walked by the sea of Galilee it was not the first time that he had met them.
After Jesus left Jordan (after being baptized) he went into the desert for forty days where he was tempted of the devil. Peter, Andrew and any other person that had first met Jesus at this time would not have followed Jesus into the desert and would have most likely returned to their own homes when they left Jordan.
"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered."
Luke 4:1-2 King James
After Jesus is tempted in the desert he begins his ministry. When he hears that John the Baptist has been cast into prison he departs for Galilee.
"Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee ... From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 4:12-17 King James
When Jesus enters Galilee he goes to the sea of Galilee where he encounters Peter and Andrew and their fellow fishermen James and John. Since Jesus has already met the disciples along the Jordan river they very likely could have told Jesus that this is where they lived and Jesus may not have entered Galilee by chance, he could have purposely been seeking out Peter and the others.
"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him."
Matthew 4:18-22 King James
Scripture records that Jesus saw Peter, Andrew, James and John. Jesus did not necessarily first meet them at this encounter. Jesus instructs these men to follow him, which they left their ships and followed Jesus. Jesus leads them throughout Galilee, preaching the kingdom of the gospel and healing all manner of sickness.
"And Jesus went all about Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people."
Matthew 4: 23-24 King James
Afterward, Jesus returns to the home of Peter with Peter, Andrew, James and John where they find out that Peter's mother in law is not feeling well. Apparently Peter's mother in law fell ill while they were with Jesus throughout the region of Galilee. Jesus heals Peter's mother in law of her illness and she gets up to take care of them. While the disciples may have thought they were returning to their homes from a successful mission Jesus had again returned with a purpose for he must have known that Peter's mother in law had been stricken with an illness.
"And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them."
Mark 1:29-31 King James
Word of this miraculous healing would have spread like wildfire throughout the surrounding area. The sick and suffering would have been brought to Jesus seeking their own miraculous healing. That evening Jesus heals the people throughout the immediate area.
"And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him."
Mark 1:32-34 King James
The next day Jesus arises and departs to a solitary place to pray. The people follow after him in an attempt to get Jesus to return and stay with them. Jesus however would continue on with his ministry. The disciples did not necessarily continue with Jesus at this time and quite frankly could have stayed behind to take care of their families.
"And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. And he said unto them. I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee."
Matthew 4:42-44 King James
Jesus has met the disciples by the Jordan river, went alone into the wilderness where he is tempted by the devil, arrives by the sea of Galilee where he instructs, Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him. Jesus then goes about all Galilee teaching and healing, returns to Peter's home where Jesus heals his mother in law and now Jesus once again departs on a journey of teaching and healing. This time however Jesus leaves without the disciples. Jesus will return again and when he does return what does Jesus find the four disciples doing? What would fishermen be expected to do?
This time when Jesus walks by shore the people would most assuredly recognize him because he has cured the ill and they would gather around him. The crowd would be large enough that Jesus needed to enter into a ship and speak to them just offshore. This would have prevented the enthusiastic crowd from pressing on Jesus while he spoke to them.
"And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fisherman were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and he prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
Now when he left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so also was James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him."
Luke 5:1-11 King James
In this encounter when Jesus arrives at the sea of Galilee the disciples are not in their ships, they were away from their ships tending to their nets. Jesus enters Peter's ship and speaks to the crowd just offshore. The four disciples had a miserable time fishing the night before Jesus arrived. After Jesus is finished with his sermon he instructs Peter to cast out his nets and the catch is so great that both ships nearly sink. This miracle certainly impressed these fishermen, for this time when Jesus says follow me they forsook all and followed Jesus.
In the earlier passages where Jesus arrived on the sea of Galilee and found the disciples tending to there ships scripture records that they forsook their nets and followed Jesus. After this encounter where Jesus speaks to the crowd from the ship and miraculously fills the fishing nets scripture records that they forsook all and followed Jesus.
Go ahead and place the sequence of events from the gospels in order for yourself, don't take my word for it. When you take a good close look at scripture you will see that the gospels are in perfect harmony with each other.