I have had the opportunity to lead the Builders Sunday Morning Small Group for three weeks studying the gospel according to Mark. This question was shared during our time together.
When Jesus called the first disciples, had they heard of him before? Did they have any knowledge of this man who was asking them to leave their livelihood, family and friends and follow him?
This is a great question and one which I have not previously considered. I do not read a clear response one way or the other in the text of Mark. (Perhaps why this was a question in the first place)
I had never imagined the disciples having any previous knowledge about Jesus before he called them. It would make a little more sense why they would leave their nets and follow him if they had heard of him before. However, as a class member proposed, it may be that Jesus presence, tone, power and the work of the Holy Spirit was what compelled the disciples to follow – not just the words.
I think that whether the disciples had hard of Jesus before depends on how you decide to interpret this passage:
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15, TNIV)
How far had Jesus teaching spread? How long had he been proclaiming the good news of God before encountering those who would become his disciples? Was Jesus well known before he began healing?
What do you think? How would you respond to this question?