About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch.5:1-11   ch. 5:12-16   ch. 5:17-26    ch. 5:37-31   ch. 5:32-39 

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 disciples.

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 Jesus.

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 Jesus.

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 important.

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 Jesus.

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 small bed.

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 rewarded.

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 Mankind.

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 God.

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 time following.

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 of Matthew.

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 oppressed them.

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 on.

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 disciples.

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 least.

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 - 39)

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 yet.

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.

 

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