The Calling Of The First Disciples (ch.
5:1 - 11)
The story we find in Luke 5:1 Ė11 is also told by Matthew in Mat.
4, and by Mark in Mark 1. Lukeís account is very different than Matthews
and Marks. There have been many attempts to correlate these accounts. Some
have used the differences to suggest that Lukeís account is not
accurate. Without getting into this debate, I only point out some
differences. Luke says that there was a crowd while Matthew and Mark seems
to say Jesus was alone. What the fishermen were doing in Luke is different
than in Matthew and Mark. To me, it is possible that during the period of
time that Jesus was there, things could have changed. For example, maybe
there was no crowd at first, and when people found out that Jesus was
there, they came. Also during the same period of time the fishermen could
have done a number of things at the edge of the lake.
In verses 1 through 4 we see Jesus on the shores of Lake Gannesaret
speaking to the crowd of people who have gathered around Him. So we see
right away that Jesus did not confine His teaching to synagogues only.
Here He teaches on the shores of a Lake. Jesus would take any opportunity
to talk to people concerning His message.
Jesus sees a couple of empty boats. The owners of the boats were on
the shore. Simon Peter owned one of these fishing boats and Jesus asked
Peter to push him out into the lake a bit in his boat. From a short
distance off shore Jesus taught the people who were on shore.
You might ask, "why would Jesus teach from a boat"?
"Was the crowd pushing in on Him"? One probable reason for this
is the fact that the water is a natural amplifier, a natural sound system.
Jesus knew that his voice would carry better if He was in the boat and
therefore all of the crowd could hear Him. This could have easily been the
reason why He spoke from Peterís boat.
After Jesus had finished speaking, and in front of the crowd Jesus
told Peter "to put out into the deep water and let down your nets for
a catch". (ch.5:4) Jesus wasnít asking Peter to go fishing, He was
telling him, and this was after a whole night of fishing when Peter and
his friends caught nothing. This was probably around noon, not the best
time to go fishing, more like the time for these men to go home to sleep,
since they worked the mid-night shift.
Now Peter was a professional fisherman, and he knew that this time
of day was not the best for fishing. Jesus was a carpenter. He knew lots
about building houses, but did He know about fishing?
Peter had to have known about Jesus since he called Jesus
"Master". In verse 5 Peter explained to Jesus that he would go
out into the deep but he had spent the whole night fishing and had caught
nothing. "But because you say soÖ", Peter went fishing again.
We know by this response that Peter respected Jesus, and this was before
he was a disciple of Jesus.
Once out into the deep water and after they puts down their nets
they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So Peter
called his friends and they came to help.
This truly was a miracle. Who was this miracle for? Was it for the
crowd on shore? Was it merely to help Peter and his friends because they
had no success the night before? I think the context suggests that Jesus
did it for the benefit of Peter and his friends, who would soon become His
Yet they were more than happy. Peter was filled with awe and respect
for Jesus. Peter had just called Jesus master, and now, after the catch,
he calls Jesus Lord as he falls to his knees. Jesus was becoming more than
a master, more than a teacher to Peter.
In verse 8 Peter says, "go away from me because I am a sinful
man". This is truly the words of a repentant man, a man who has just
met the Lord of Lordís face to face and seen an unbelievable miracle.
This should be the response of anyone in the presence of Jesus. When we
truly understand the seriousness of our sin, we want to shrivel up and
disappear from the sight of Jesus. Yet we have no place to go and so we
find ourselves at His feet receiving His love and forgiveness.
Peter and his friends "were astonished" at what had just
happened. They were overwhelmed. In the sense of being overwhelmed Jesus
says, "donít be afraid, you will catch men". Thus this event
was a living illustration for Peter, James, John and his friends. As they
have just caught a large number of fish. Soon theyíd catch men for
I am not sure that Peter and the others really understood what Jesus
meant. They understood something because they laid aside their nets to
follow Jesus. I believe they were overwhelmed with the presence of God
when they were with Jesus, and they had no other choice but to follow Him.
Verse 11 says, "so they pulled their boats up on shore, left
everything and followed Jesus". It does not appear that Peter, James
and John took their nets with them, skinned or sold the fish, or even
attended to anything. They simply left everything as it was to follow
Now most likely there were other men in the company of Peter, James
and John. Most likely Zebedee, Jame and Johnís father was there, along
with helpers. They probably tended to things. I am not sure that Jesus
would help these men with a great catch of fish and then just leave the
fish to rot on the lake shore. I am sure what needed to be done got done,
but not by Peter, James and John. They had just received a calling to a
new way of life.
The Man With Leprosy (ch. 5:12 - 16)
Verse 12 tells us that while "Jesus was in one of the towns a
man came along who was covered with leprosy". The word covered
suggests the advanced stage of this decease.
Jesus actually "reached out and touched" this man who was
noticeably afflicted with leprosy. (ch. 5:16) This would not have been a
wise or an acceptable thing to do.
The man saw Jesus and "fell with his face to the ground and
begged" Jesus by saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make
me clean". We see a number of things here. We see the humility of
this man. In fact the man was a sick beggar. The Law considered him to be
unclean and untouchable. He had nothing to be proud of . By him falling to
the ground, face first, shows Jesus that this man respected Him. It was a
custom in those days to fall in respect to someone who was considered very
The man called Jesus Lord, just as Peter did in the last section.
The leper recognized that Jesus was someone special, and even the Lord.
Whether this man had a clear picture of just who Jesus was in hard to say.
He surely would have heard of the miracles that Jesus was performing and
felt in his heart that Jesus was from God.
The man believed that Jesus could make him better. He had faith. He
trusted that with the touch of Jesusí hand he could be perfectly well,
but he was not demanding in his request for healing. His humbleness
extended from his prostate position to the words of his mouth. He added
"if it be your will" to his request. To me this says that if his
healing was not Jesusí will, he would accept the results, which would
have been death.
I have thought much about these words over the years, that is,
"if it be your will". The church I grew up in said these words a
lot, especially when praying for the sick. "If it be your will"
was always added to every prayer of healing.
When I came in contact with Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians,
many of them did not like this phrase. They would say, "you should
know that it is Godís will to heal, so those words are not
necessary". They would say that the Bible clearly teaches that it is
Godís will to heal everyone. As a matter of fact, they would say that
"if it be your will" produces doubt in the mind of everyone
praying. Is "if it be your will" words of doubt? I donít think
so. I believe they are words of humility and respect. In practical terms,
many times we donít really know if a particular healing is Godís will.
When we know Godís will. we may just speak the word of healing. Still, I
would be slow to suggest that these words show a lack of trust and faith.
Jesus looked down on this sick man, and as He touched him He said,
"I am willing, be clean". The sickness immediately left the man.
Not only was he healed, but he was clean according to the Law of Moses.
Jesus told this man not to tell anyone what had just happened. He
told the man to go to the priest and get ceremonially cleaned as described
in the Law of Moses, and let that be a testimony to the priest of the
power of God. You can see that Jesus, though being above the Law, still
obeyed the Law and made sure this man did as well. If Jesus had not have
told this man to be ceremonially clean, then Heíd be disobeying the Law
and therefore could not fulfill the Law. Jesus was to fulfill the Law on
our behalf. If He disobeyed it, then how could He fulfill it. This is a
true statement. Jesus lived and obeyed the Law so we wouldnít have to.
We couldnít anyway.
Even though Jesus told this man to go straight to the synagogue and
donít tell anyone, others had seen what had been done. This only spread
the news of Jesus even farther.
Luke ends this section by telling us that Jesus "often withdrew
Himself to a lonely place and prayed". The word "lonely"
means a solitary place. Jesus often had to get away and pray and draw
strength from His Heavenly Father, whom He most likely missed immensely .
Jesus Heals A Paralytic (ch. 5:17 - 26)
Verse17 tells us about Jesusí popularity. Even though many did not
agree with what He was teaching, everyone wanted to hear His words. Luke
tells us here that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law from Judea,
Galilee and Jerusalem could be found in the crowds that sat to listen to
Pharisees were the strictest of Jewish religious leaders. They
followed the Law, as well as their own traditions that were built around
the Law. They tended to be very self-righteous because of this strict
obedience. The teachers were professional students of the Law. These men
were experts in their field. Many teachers were also Pharisees.
Luke states that "the power of the Lord was present for Jesus
to heal the sick". The Lord spoken of here would be God the Father.
Was this a special sense of Godís power at this particular time, or was
this power normal for Jesus? I believe that the power of God was always
with Jesus to heal the sick, yet at times there might have been more power
than other times. Just as the Holy Spirit can be in us, then also come
upon us in a special endowment of power, so the same could be true with
Jesus. Godís power is limitless, therefore it could be with Jesus in
varying strengths. This might have been a time in which there was an extra
outpouring of power.
We note that Jesus was teaching in a house on this particular
occasions. (ch.5:19) Weíve now seen Jesus teach in synagogues, houses,
and on the shores of lakes. While Jesus was teaching in this house some
men brought a man who was paralyzed to Him to be healed. They could not
carry him on his mat through the crowd of people so they climbed to the
roof of the house, tore open a tile, and let the man down on his mat
through the roof. This had to be quite a task. How do you get a full grown
man who couldnít walk on a roof, and then let him down through a hole in
the roof without having him fall.
The NIV uses the word "mat" that this man laid on. It most
likely was not a floor mat as we think when we think of a mat. This was a
Mark tells us that there were 4 men carrying this man on this small
bed, one for each corner. Most houses in Galilee were made of stone with
flat roofs. Often on top of the flat room was another room that was built
that you could reach by outside steps. These 4 men surveyed the situation
and figured out where Jesus was standing in relation to where they would
put the hole in the roof. They did a good job because when they let the
man down through the hole, he ended up right in front of Jesus.
Verse 20 notes that Jesus "saw their faith". Faith should
be visible in the things we do. In this instance faith was seen in these
menís persistence to get to Jesus. Imagine, you sitting in a room
listening to Jesus and hear noise from the ceiling above you. You canít
quite figure out what is going on when suddenly bits and pieces of the
roof fall down beside you and in a matter of moments a man on a small bed
is slowly let down and placed in front of Jesus. Weíd all be quite
surprised. I am sure Jesus was. I can imagine a smile coming to Jesusí
face when He sees what is happening. He surely thought that these guys
were both inventive in their approach and persistent. For this they were
Jesus knew the heart of these men and He therefore calls them
"friends". Beyond this He says,, "your sins are
forgiven". This man came for healing and Jesus says that his sins are
forgiven. What does Jesus mean?
I am not the only one that wondered what Jesus was talking about.
The Pharisees and teachers wondered as well and were very upset with what
Jesus said. They thought to themselves, "who is this fellow who
speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone". These Jews
were right when they thought that only God could forgive sins. They knew
this well, but they were wrong thinking that Jesus was blaspheming. From
their perspective they understood that Jesus was associating Himself with
God a little too closely. How could a mere man forgive sins. Jesus was
claiming deity with His words, and that certainly would be blasphemous
words if spoken by anyone else.
Jesus knew exactly what He was saying. He knew He had the authority
to forgive sin. He was God in human flesh, and because of this, He knew
what these men were thinking. He therefore confronts them with their own
thoughts. Jesus had the ability to see into the hearts of men.
In verse 22 Jesus asks the Jews, "why are you thinking these
things in your hearts"? I think He knew why they were thinking these
things. He asked them this question in order to get them thinking about
their own question.
Yet Jesus doesnít give them time to respond. He continues by
saying, "which is easier: to say, your sins are forgiven, or to say,
get up and walk"? Jesus had the power and the authority to do both.
Forgiving sins was no harder than healing someone. Yet if Jesus would have
only said, "get up and walk", the Pharisees would have had less
problems. In their minds Jesus could have been a prophet of God with power
to heal. But when Jesus said, "your sins are forgiven", a
prophet could not do that. I think Jesus said these words on purpose. He
knew what He was saying, and He knew the response His word would bring.
Jesus was simply telling these men who He really was. He did it by
His words and His subsequent actions. The Pharisees and teachers had major
problems with this. I am sure the man who was healed had no problems at
all. He was made whole, and for that he would have been thankful.
You might wonder if this sickness of the man was associated with sin
because Jesus forgave this man his sins. I donít believe that it was.
Jesus did not believe that sickness was always a result of sin in a
persons life. He was simply making the point that He had both the power
and the authority to forgive sins and heal people of their sicknesses.
This point is made clear in the next verse. It says, "so that you may
know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins Ö "
Jesus then told the paralyzed man to get up, take his mat, and go
home. And that he did, praising God all the way home.
Jesus, although in the third person, calls himself the "Son of
Man". No one else has ever been called the "Son of Man".
Jesus coined the title about Himself, although He never said, "I am
the Son of Man".
Jesus is called both the "Son of God" and the "Son of
Man". The first title is obvious. His Father was God. The second
title needs some explanation. He was not the son of a particular man. He
was not the biological son of Joseph. He can be viewed as the Son of
The term "Son of Man" originated in Dan. 7:13-14. In Dan.
7 Daniel saw a vision which included a heavenly being. He said that this
man looked like a son of man. Though this heavenly being was a spiritual
being, he looked like a man. The man in the vision was the Messiah. Jesus
is basically saying, that I am that Son of Man. I have a heavenly being in
a human body.
Luke says that "everyone" was filled with awe and praised
God for what they had seen. This may have been the case, but we know that
the Pharisees did not like Jesus referring to Himself on the same level as
The Calling Of Levi (ch. 5:27 - 31)
After the above healing Jesus passed by a man named Levi. He was a
tax collector. When Jesus saw him, he was sitting in his tax booth. Jesus
said to him, "follow me". The Greek verb tense actually says,
"be following me", which means a continual following, not a one
This same Levi is named Matthew in the gospel of Matthew. Most
people believe the Levi, or Matthew as he is also called wrote the Gospel
Levi was a Jew. Jewish tax collectors were hated by their fellow
Jews because they often extorted their own people. They were considered
traitors because as a Jew they worked for the Roman government who
Because of the location of Leviís tax office it is believed that
he collected tax on goods that were passing by. This was not an individual
income tax of sorts but more of a business tax.
It is very interesting to note that Jesus included such a hated
person in His band of disciples. Once again, this shows us the continuing
unorthodox way that God chooses to do things. The forerunner to the
Messiah appeared like a crazy man in the desert. The Messiah was born in a
barn and ministered mostly in small towns and not Jerusalem. The list goes
Levi immediately left his tax booth. Yet like Simon with his fishing
business, I am sure that Levi had other people to take care of things . To
think that Jesus would ask Levi to leave his office unattended shows a
lack of thoughtfulness about this verse and Jesus Hiimself. I donít
believe that Jesus was reckless in His thinking or in His actions. It
makes no sense that Levi should simply leave everything, including lots of
money sitting for someone to rob. It is clear that Simon had others to
take care of his fishing business, so I think Levi had others as well.
I would suggest that when Jesus told Levi to follow Him, that was
not the first time Jesus would have met him. I canít say for sure, but
by this time most people knew who Jesus was and I think that Jesus could
have easily talked with Levi on a prior occasion.
We might ask, "was the Holy Spirit involved in Jesusí words
to Levi"? I think the Holy Spirit carried Jesusí words to the heart
of all who heard, and Levi would be no exception. The Holy Spirit was
tugging the heart strings of Leviís heart as he made the choice to stop
what he was doing to continually follow Jesus.
Levi had to have been quite impressed with Jesus. He took Jesus to
his home, asked all of his tax collector friends to come over and have a
major banquet. Matthew and Mark also tell us that Jesusí other disciples
were there as well. It appears that Levi was the last of the 12 disciples
to be called by Jesus.
So we now find Jesus eating with a bunch of very hated people. These
people were viewed as the scum of the earth by all other Jews. They were
considered as very bad sinners, and here we see Jesus not only visiting
with these people, but eating with them, a double sin. Then to make things
worse He had actually invited one of these sinners to be one of His
Verse 30 tells us that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were
not very happy with what Jesus was seen doing. You see there was a great
rivalry going on here between Jesus and the Pharisees, although it is
clear that Jesus had no part in this rivalry. The Pharisees viewed Jesus
as a rival to them. People were now beginning to listen to Jesus, and even
give up their means of living to follow Him. In short, the Pharisees were
rapidly loosing their constituency, and they did not like that in the
Notice that the Pharisees asked Jesusí disciples why they ate and
drank with tax collectors. The question was directed to the disciples, not
Jesus, But Jesus answered the question. I doubt that at this early stage
the disciples had a clear cut understanding themselves why they found
themselves in this predicament. It could well be that the disciples were
uncomfortable with eating with these men.
Jesus gives His answer in verses 31 and 32. He says, "it is not
for the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call
the righteous, but sinners to repentance". Jesusí answer was meant
to make the Pharisees understand that Jesus knew these men were sinners.
They would have no argument with Him on this point. Jesusí answered
almost implies, or could be taken to imply that the Pharisees were
righteous and had no need of repentance. Maybe some of them thought to
themselves that Jesus was right. These men are not like us. They are
sinners. They really do need help. Yet we know from other passages that
Jesus did not view the Pharisees as healthy or righteous. On the contrary,
He viewed them as hypocrites, sinners, and blind leading the blind.
Jesus Questioned About Fasting (ch. 5:32
In verse 32 the Pharisees abruptly change the subject as if they are
not sure how to respond to Jesusí last sentence. They now ask Him why
His disciples donít fast as Johnís did and as their disciples do.
Jesus answers with an analogy of marriage. If a groom invites people
to a wedding, they are expected to participate in a large marriage feast.
If the groom isnít there, then the marriage doesnít take place and the
people donít get to eat. Jesus is calling Himself the groom. He is there
with His invitees, and therefore they eat. Jesus does go on to say that
there will be a time when He wonít be around. At that time, His
disciples will fast. We understand these words to mean after Jesusí
ascension to Heaven, but those listening would not have understood this as
Jesus then proceeds to relate a parable to those listening to Him.
In this parable Jesus says 2 things. He says that no one puts a new patch
on old clothes, and also that no one puts new wine into old wine skins.
When putting a new patch on old clothes, a tear could easily appear where
the old and new meet. When putting new wine in old goat skins, when the
new wine ages it will cause the skins to burst.
What Jesus is in fact doing here is addressing a much larger issue.
He answered the question about fasting, but He needs to tell these
Pharisees something more in order for them to better understand His
answer. The Pharisees are very much entrenched in their system. He is
telling these men that what He is doing and saying is in fact bringing in
a new system of doing things. The old system is coming to and end. Jesus
is telling them that he is bringing in a new system. This system is
altogether new. As Paul says in Rom. 10:4, "Christ is the end of the
Law". The Law died on the cross along with Jesus. Jesus was
resurrected. The Law stayed in the grave.
This is an important thought for Christians when thinking in terms
of the Old Testament. We are Christians in New Testament times. We should
not be living as Old Testament people. The Old Testament means something
altogether different to us than what it did to the Jews in Old Testament
times. This is a very misunderstood issue in the church at large.