Luke Chapter Five
v.1 “1And it came to
pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by
Jesus has been preaching
in the synagogues of the region of
v.2-3 “2And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.”
As with any large body of water, there were fishing boats along the shore and men that worked catching fish as a commercial business. Jesus chooses the boat owned by Simon Peter, asks him to push out from land just a little bit so that he could teach the people. There are actually two reasons for this; first it would keep the people from pressing upon him and with the water behind him would provide excellent acoustics for his purpose.
v.4-5 “4Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.”
These fishermen had fished all night and hadn’t caught a thing. We’re not talking about poles and lines, or lures to try to get fish to bite as we commonly do but they had fished with nets the entire night without success. What significance do we find in the word “TOILED”? They had worked hard at trying to catch fish that night. So even though they had worked hard all night long without success; Peter follows the Lord’s instructions.
v.6-7 “6And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7And 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.”
Jesus is on a recruiting mission isn’t he? He has chosen Peter and his partners for a higher purpose and uses this means to cause them to follow him. We have a similar situation recorded by John after his resurrection when he gives them their final direction or commission as his apostles:
John 21:6 “6And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.”
So Peter and those in his boat lets down his nets and catch so many fish that the nets begin to break; he calls his partners James and John with their boat to help and they fill both boats to the extent that they are about to sink. These men, who had labored all night, caught nothing and knew the ways of the sea were astonished at Jesus display of power even other those things that they thought they understood completely.
v.8-9 “8When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:”
Peter, and James and John as well, realize that they are standing in the presence of God. They are like David was when Uzzah was struck dead for touching the ark of the covenant. We’re told in II Samuel 6:9 that “…DAVID WAS AFRAID OF THE LORD THAT DAY…” Peter knows that he is a man who has sin in his life, as we all do; he knows God does not tolerate sin and fears Jesus probably much more because he realizes his undone condition.
v.10-11 “10And so was also 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. 11And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”
So we not only have Peter and his brother Andrew but also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who forsake their life’s work to follow Jesus. The parallel scriptures are in Matthew and Mark .
What promise is given them for this dedication to the cause of Christ and where do we find it?
Luke 18:29-30 “29And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, 30Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”
Peter, Andrew, James and John are invited to follow Jesus, learn his word and ultimately preach, teach and become a major part of the spread of the gospel to the entire world. Do we have the same invitation today? How does our faith compare that theirs? I don’t want to imply that we have done nothing for many have done much and continue to do everything that their time, talent and physical capabilities will allow. But we can better understand the minds of those who dedicate themselves to God’s mission of salvation and perhaps some of us might need to go take a good long look in our mirror, compare our faith to those here and see if we really think that everything is as it should be.
v.12-13 “12And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 13And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.”
Jesus is in a certain city, we are not told where but it was a specific place when one approaches him that is full of leprosy. This disease is one of the worst that man can have. It is tenacious and in this day when you got it there wasn’t any hope, your skin turned white with spots, dry thick scales or scabs about the size of a dollar coin, literally rotted and fell off. People lost skin, ears, noses, fingers, hands, feet, and ultimately died from it. This man was full of it; he was in an advanced stage of its devastation. He comes to Jesus, begs his mercy and Jesus heals him.
v.14 “14And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”
As was common in his early ministry Jesus tells this man to tell no man but to go show himself to the priest and make an offering for his cleansing. Why did he tell him to make an offering? Because it was the law:
Leviticus 14:3-4 “And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; 4Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:”
And there are several other offering that must be made on various days that follow; see also Leviticus 14:10, 21, and 22
v.15-16 “15But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.”
Even though Jesus had commanded the leper to tell no man, what do you think happened? He told everyone he saw; he had been literally dying by degrees of one of the most dread diseases of mankind and was healed. He will rejoice, he will tell everyone he sees of the marvelous power to heal that this man Jesus has.
Jesus, as was his custom, when he was pressed and when times and circumstances became overwhelming withdrew into a quiet place, here the wilderness and prayed to his Father. This is a practice that would serve us well also, if we follow it.
v.17 “17And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”
There were literally
people present from all of the towns and villages of
v.18 “18And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.”
Men who knew that Jesus could and would heal those brought to him are carrying a man in a bed or couch and trying to find a way through this multitude of people to get him to Jesus. Mark tells us that he was “BORNE OF FOUR” or four men are carrying him, probably one at each corner. They can’t get in but they devise another way.
v.19-20 “19And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”
And when they could not find another way in; they go up on the roof of the house or building that Jesus is in, tear off the roof (Luke says tiling) and lower him with ropes down in front of Jesus. Why did Jesus say what he did? Because the prevailing belief in that day was that catastrophic illness or calamity came upon someone because of their sin. Some folks have notions in that same vein today, and it keeps us from understanding that bad times and bad things can and do come to good, God-fearing people and sin has nothing to do with it. Personally I think that God had another purpose in Jesus choosing those words as we will see in a moment.
v.21 “21And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”
Now the Pharisees and doctors of the Law knew and we know that only God can forgive sins. Only the one transgressed has that right or option; if I offend you it doesn’t do any good for someone else to tell me I’m forgiven unless you’ve told them to do so. The Holy Spirit recorded for us through a psalm of David:
Psalms 32:5 “I ACKNOWLEDGED MY SIN UNTO THEE, AND MINE INIQUITY HAVE I NOT HID. I SAID, I WILL CONFESS MY TRANSGRESSIONS UNTO THE LORD; AND THOU FORGAVEST THE INIQUITY OF MY SIN.”
Knowing this, these Jewish officials are upset when Jesus makes the statement that this man’s sins are forgiven. His words have the intended effect and he gets the opportunity to teach them further in a way that they will hear and remember.
v.22-23 “But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?”
He reads their minds, he understands their thoughts, just as he can yours and mine at this moment if he so chooses; scary thought isn’t it? He challenges them. Which is easier; to tell this man to get up and walk or to tell him that his sins are forgiven? In other words, doesn’t either one take the same power and authority? He brings this subject to them so that they will know.
v.24 “24But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.”
That ye may know that the son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins… Jesus is declaring himself to them; he’s telling them who he is. And he tells the man that is afflicted to take up his bed that was used to lower him from the roof and go home.
v.25-26 “25And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.”
Immediately, no delay, no need to carry him home and pray over him to be healed, immediately this man who had to be carried in, gets up, picks up what he was laying on and carries it out to his house where he lived. They were all amazed and this would include the Jewish officials and lawyers. Luke tells us that they were also filled with fear. Jesus is exhibiting the power and authority of God and they know it.
v.27 “27And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.”
The next event that Luke records in his letter to Theophilus is the calling of Matthew to be a disciple and subsequently an apostle. Jesus sees this publican, sitting and collecting taxes or custom and simply tells him to follow him. Matthew records the same event in almost as few a words as Luke:
Matthew 9:9 “9And as Jesus passed
Matthew was also a little more modest in his record wasn’t he?
v.28 “28And he left all, rose up, and followed him.”
Why is this significant? He has one of the most lucrative jobs that can be found in that day, a collector of taxes, why? Because they worked on a commission, they were allowed to keep a percentage of what they collected. Consequently many were not only hated by the Jews because they worked for the Roman government but also because most were corrupt. Even those who were not corrupt were very rich men. But Levi or Matthew obviously is not one of those who lived off corruption as he is chosen of Jesus for a divine purpose. As a result he stages a celebration and feast.
v.29 “29And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.”
To attend this feast he
invites his friends and fellow workers and since Levi or Matthew is not
accepted in polite society by anyone who is a member of a Jewish synagogue and
opposed to Roman rule; who attends? Other
publicans and people who work for
v.30 “30But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?”
They won’t confront Jesus directly but do a little back-biting; sound familiar, happens all too often doesn’t it? They murmur and whisper among themselves against Jesus and his disciples because they are associating with the wrong people. But Jesus knows what they’re thinking.
v.31-32 “31And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus answers their thoughts and their whisperings. Giving them the benefit for the moment that they are deeply religious Jews following the Law given through Moses, he says that since they’re whole they don’t need a physician but those that are sick do. Those that are sin sick, sinners need his word, his mercy and His forgiveness. His purpose is to call sinners to repentance. Paul tells Timothy and us that this was Jesus real reason from coming to this earth:
I Timothy 1:15 “15This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
Well, this accusation against Jesus and his disciples didn’t work so they try another one.
v.33 “33And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?”
Why do the disciples of John and those of the Jewish teachers fast often but the disciples of Jesus go to feasts? More back-biting. How often were the Israelite people to fast under the Mosaic Law? Once a year at the day of atonement. Other requirements for fasting were apparently added during the captivity but not by God, by the Jewish elders.
v.34-35 “34And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.”
Jesus explains that it would be inappropriate for his disciples to fast at this time. They are preparing for a great wedding, the bride of Christ, the church, is to be brought about and the bridegroom is in his days of preparation. This bridal feast is spiritual in nature just as the bride herself is spiritual in nature. So it would not be appropriate for the friends of the bridegroom to exercise themselves in fasting at a time that logically should be dedicated to feasting and joy. The time will come when it will be the time for them to fast soon enough.
v.36-39 “36And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. 37And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. 39No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.”
Jesus gives two more illustrations to help them understand. You don’t use new goods, not yet shrunk by washings to patch an old garment, when it shrinks it will tear. You don’t put new wine in old wineskins as they may break easily.