The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Luke 5

Luk 5:1

Background: John Bapt had been recently imprisoned (Mar 1:14). Now Jesus calls John's former followers to follow him (Jesus) instead.

ONE DAY: Very early in the morning, as implied by v 5: "We've worked hard all night."

Luk 5:2

WASHING THEIR NETS: "The necessity to rid the gospel net of old useless accretions" (WGos 115).

Luk 5:3

Cp Mar 4:1: a later occasion.

Luk 5:5

V 5: Parable: at first, disciples' reluctance to cast out into Gentile "deep". And when they did, they needed help to pull in catch of men: Thus Paul and Barnabas in "fishing" among Gentiles (Gal 2:9) -- WGos 115.

BUT BECAUSE YOU SAY SO: The Master's word turns fruitless service into fruitful service.

Examples of doing things which, logically, seem to make no sense... simply because they are commanded: Psa 127:1,2; Luke 6:46-48; John 15:14; 2Ki 5:10-14 (Naaman).

Luk 5:6

See Psa 8:6,8: dominion over fish of the sea.

Luk 5:7

SIGNALED: "Kataneuo" = to nod; once in NT.

SINK: "Buthizo": only once elsewhere: 1Ti 6:9, where materialism "drowns" men in destruction.

Luk 5:8

Peter's recognition of his own sin, like Isaiah's (Isa 6:5-8), prepared him to be a preacher ("catch men": v 10). Thus, Joh 21:15-17 and Act 2:39. Godly sorrow leads to repentance (2Co 7:10). Peter, convicted, draws near; Pharisees, convicted, go out (Joh 8:9).

GO AWAY FROM ME... I AM... SINFUL: Similar reaction in the presence of divine glory: Exo 4:10-17; 20:18-20; Isa 6:1-7; Jer 1:4-10; Act 9:3-9; Dan 10:7-12; Rev 1:13-20.

Examples of prophetic reluctance: Exo 4:10; Jer 1:6; Eze 3:14; Jon 1:3; 1Ki 19:10; Luk 5:8,10; 9:59; 18:23; Act 13:13; 18:9. Ct Isa 6:8.

Luk 5:9

Did they remember Israel's greed in a similar circumstance in the wilderness (Num 11:32-34)?

Luk 5:10

CATCH MEN: So, v 11, they "left everything and followed him". If they did not preach, they were not following Christ! "Catch men alive": ct 2Ti 2:26. "Fishers of men" (Mat 4:19n), requiring patience, perseverance, caution, hiding of self, adapting to failure (LB 401-403).

Luk 5:11

LEFT EVERYTHING: Mar 1:20 adds that they left "the boat with the hired men", suggesting some wealth. Zebedee's family was quite prosperous, having a house in Jerusalem.

Did the apostles retain the means, individually or collectively, to go back to fishing as a livelihood? Does "left everything" mean "for all time and for good"? Or does it mean that they "left everything" for a period of time only? Did they perhaps return to their fishing to support themselves and their families in between preaching efforts and time spent with Jesus?

Luk 5:12

The leper came: (1) earnestly; (2) humbly; and (3) believingly.

A MAN WITH LEPROSY: Officially such a man would be banned from the city. This was a measure of the determination he had, that he was able to penetrate to the very presence of Jesus.

COVERED: "Full of" (KJV), ie saturated, from within, incurable by natural means.

HE FELL WITH HIS FACE TO THE GROUND AND BEGGED HIM: The leper should not have been so close -- he should have cried "Unclean!" and dwelt alone. That he came close -- not mark of disregard, but of his confidence in Christ. Christ accepted this without embarrassment, and touched him without suffering any harm.

IF YOU ARE WILLING: He had more faith in Jesus' power than in his own goodness.

Luk 5:13

The man was "filled" with leprosy (v 12); Jesus was "filled" with compassion (Mar 1:41)! A High Priest touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Heb 4:15). "Jesus wept" (Joh 11:35).

JESUS REACHED OUT HIS HAND: The heart moves the hand!

AND TOUCHED THE MAN: "Whatever touches any of the flesh [of the sin offering] will become holy" (Lev 6:27). But both Elijah and Elisha contracted "defilement" by touching dead (1Ki 17:21; 2Ki 4:34). Jesus, however, was a High Priest "touched" with feelings of our infirmities (Heb 4:15), yet he was not defiled in the least. Moreover, by his touch he REMOVED the defilement from others!

All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

Luk 5:14

DON'T TELL ANYONE: Silence was his settled policy for most of his ministry (Mat 9:30; 17:9; 12:16; Mar 1:34; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26; Luk 5:14), with one notable exception (Mar 5:19 -- Legion with his family). But in last days of ministry, a change of course (Mat 21:1-11; Joh 7:37; 9:3; 11:4).

THE SACRIFICES THAT MOSES COMMANDED: Christ did not despise or disregard the law he came to fulfill.

AS A TESTIMONY TO THEM: Christ's power was greater than the priests -- even greater than Moses (Num 12:13).

Luk 5:15

Here is the reason Christ so often asked for silence. Too much publicity hindered his quiet work of preaching! See Psa 66:13-20.

Luk 5:16

JESUS OFTEN WITHDREW TO LONELY PLACES: How often Jesus avoided fame and notoriety. Christ's life was full of the needs of the people pressing on him. He could barely find a way to get away. But he did make a way to slip into the wilderness to pray. Prayer is our connection to God. God gave us prayer as a means of nourishing, restoring, healing, and changing us. Prayer is a way of opening ourselves to the gifts of God. It is truly an opportunity to experience God's healing and transforming love. "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (Jer 33:3).

We are able to separate ourselves as Christ did. We have this great conduit to the Father which is available at any time or place. What wonderful mercies our Father bestows on us!

"Even when we try to limit the amount of things we do, our lives can still get crowded in with pressures, people and deadlines, leaving us stressed, losing control and our minds in a whir. But at times like this let us take heart in the fact that Jesus has been through it all before us -- and overcome it. He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin.

"It is here that we get a glimpse as to how he did it. Jesus was under pressure by people to preach to them and to heal all their sick. He barely would have had a moment to himself and he was crowded -- mobbed almost -- by all the people. More and more people were coming all the time and the pressure on him must have been intense. 'But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.' That is such a wonderful idea! Why is it that we find it so hard to be motivated to do it ourselves? All we need to do is to take a walk, a bike ride, a drive or whatever, to be alone and to focus our minds on God. Then we need to pray. Talk to him. Tell him our needs, worries, pressures, and above all to praise him for his countless blessings.

"Try it today. Make it a habit" (RP).

Luk 5:17

This happened at Capernaum: Mar 2:1.

AND THE POWER OF THE LORD WAS PRESENT: A hint at the spiritual healing available to them all.

Luk 5:18

SOME MEN: Four of them (Mar 2:3).

CARRYING: "Like an empty pitcher to the fountain". Some cannot/will not come on their own; they must be "brought"!

PARALYTIC: One who is helpless. "When we were without strength Christ died for us" (Rom 5:6). Cp Rom 7:24,25; Isa 35:8.

Luk 5:19

Such a house, with removable roof, described in LB 358. "Those who bring others to Christ must not be afraid of new methods."

LOWERED HIM ON HIS MAT THROUGH THE TILES: Lit, "they unroofed the roof".

Luk 5:20

"Him that comes to me I will in no way cast out" (Joh 6:37). The divine order: first, sins; then illnesses.

THEIR FAITH: Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act 27:24.

YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN: Fulfilling Mar 1:4.

Luk 5:21

WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS BUT GOD ALONE?: See Isa 43:25; Dan 9:9. But surely they were forgetting that on the Day of Atonement the High Priest acted on God's behalf to do this very thing!

Luk 5:22

Similar "hearings" by the Spirit in Luk 7:39,40; Mar 2:8; 9:33-37.

Luk 5:23

It is easier to SAY, "Your sins are forgiven", but harder to DO! But the two are related: the best proof of sins forgiven is to stand up and WALK!

Luk 5:24

The main purpose of the literal miracle was to demonstrate Christ's spiritual power to forgive sins.

THE SON OF MAN: "The embodiment of the race in whom the divine purpose with man is fulfilled; the second Adam who is the beginning of a new creation" (SMk 31). The title used of Ezekiel (Eze 2:1...) and Daniel (Dan 8:17). Cp Gen 1:26; Psa 8:4-6; 80:17,18: "Ben-Adam"; Dan 7:13,14.

AUTHORITY: "There was given to him dominion (ie authority)" (Dan 7:14).

GET UP: The best proof of forgiveness: to "get up" and "walk" in new life.

Luk 5:25

Vv 25,26: Praising God for his healings: Psa 103:2,3. Healing and forgiveness together in Jam 5:15; Psa 107:17-21.

Luk 5:27

Vv 27-32: // Isa 58:4-12: fasting, garments, feasting, healing.

Luke's interest in tax-collectors: Luk 3:12; 5:27; 7:29; 15:1; 18:10; 19:2.

LEVI: Matthew (Mat 9:9-13; Mar 2:14).

FOLLOW ME: This calling of a new type of disciple -- a publican, not a fisherman -- emphasizes the broadening appeal of Christ's call -- and also that aspect of his ministry that brings him into conflict with the Pharisees: "When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and "sinners"?' " (Mat 9:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30).

Typ of Isa 58:4-12: Fasting, garments, feasting, healing.

Levi is "the son of Alphaeus" (Mark 2:14) and so his brother, who was also a disciple, was "James the son of Alphaeus" (Mark 3:18) One wonders how they got on together. Tax gatherers were despised. Probably James and the family thought little of Matthew/Levi whilst he was a tax gatherer; now they would have to change their view of him. Can we say that we do not judge people on their past life?

Luk 5:29

A GREAT BANQUET: Typ wedding feast (Mat 9:15; Mar 2:19; Luk 5:34,35). The calling of a new sort of disciple (a publican, not a fisherman): broadening appeal of Christ's call, and an affront to Pharisees (v 30). Cp Gen 21:8: a great feast, to publicly designate the heir to the promises. Again (as in Gen), immediately followed by mockery from the supposed "heir" -- ie the Pharisees (Mat 9:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30) (WGos 133).

FOR JESUS: A type of the "wedding feast": Mat 9:15; Mar 2:19,20; Luk 5:34,35.

Luk 5:30

The Song of Songs forms the background for this section, but set also against the prophecy of Hosea: joy and forgiveness; the bride is indeed spotless, but only because her sins have been forgiven (SMk 42,43).

"Any attempt at alliance with the Pharisees was bound to mean ruin for Jesus' movement, because the Pharisees were interested only in absorbing for their own prestige and benefit this and any other surge of religious enthusiasm" (WGos 137).

BUT THE PHARISEES... COMPLAINED: They would not attend a meal with such guests, but they would watch from a distance to find fault.

TO HIS DISCIPLES: Trying to drive a wedge between leaders and followers. How clever! Jesus is criticized to his disciples (Mat 2:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30), and his disciples are criticized to Jesus (Mat 2:14; Mar 2:18; Luk 5:33)!

Luk 5:31

HEALTHY: The "strong" (in ct to the "weak" of v 18), guilty of "suicidal self-sufficiency" (NMk 24).

Luk 5:32

I HAVE NOT COME... BUT...: A Heb idiom: "Not so much this as that." "Not only this but that also." Pro 8:10; Jer 7:22,23; Joel 2:13; Mar 9:37; Luk 14:26; Joh 3:17; 5:30; 6:27; 7:16; 9:30; 12:44,47; 14:24; Act 5:4; Rom 2:13; 1Co 7:10; 15:10; 1Jo 3:18.

Luk 5:33

This is a Mon or Thurs -- the 2 weekly fast days of Pharisaic tradition (SMk 42). Cp Luk 18:12n. Their fasting was, supposedly, to hasten the coming of the Messiah (WGos 136).

Luk 5:34

THE GUESTS OF THE BRIDEGROOM: "The children of the bridechamber" (AV). General term for all invited guests. "Eat, O friends, and drink abundantly, O beloved" (Song 5:1): the invitation of the bridegroom. Also an allusion to Joh 3:29.

Luk 5:35

THE BRIDEGROOM WILL BE TAKEN FROM THEM: For the first time, the "shadow of the cross" falls across Mark's narrative. An allusion to Song 5:6,7. Also to Isa 53:8: "His life was taken away" (LXX).

IN THESE DAYS THEY WILL FAST: The Pharisees fasted to hasten the coming of the Messiah, but now that he had come their whole system of traditions had been rendered meaningless.

Luk 5:36

The new way of life (which Christ brings) cannot be torn apart to patch an old and useless garment. The new "garment" must be used in its entirety. The old garment (fig-leaf covering) must be put aside completely in favor of the new garment (skins, required bloodshed). "Put off old man; put on new man" (Eph 4:23,24; cp Exo 28r; Isa 61:1,3,10).

NEW: Lit "raw", or "unfulled". To "full" a garment: to shrink, or otherwise prepare cloth by pressure, heat, or moisture.

THE PATCH FROM THE NEW WILL NOT MATCH THE OLD: The new life in Christ is not a "patch" for the old; it is a new "whole". Cp Jos 9:4,13; Psa 119:83.

In one dreadful moment the poor boy tripped and fell headlong onto the rough stone path. As he stood up and brushed the stones from his hands and well worn trousers, he discovered that he had ripped both the knees of his pants, ruining them for good. They were the only pair he had and he was sure they would be ripped so badly that they couldn't be fixed. As he walked home he wondered what to do. Where would he ever get a new pair? Could he patch them? Could he cut some material off the trousers that were too big for him yet, and patch the ruined ones with it? If they were patched would they look even worse than they did now? Would the patch pull away?

In our life without Christ, the Bible describes us as wearing filthy rags. The rags we wear are so full of dirt and holes that they are beyond repair. So what do we do? Can we take the parts of the gospel message -- the parts that we like -- to patch up the old life? No! That is just like cutting up next year's trousers to patch the ruined ones. Instead we must completely change. We can either wear our old dirty rags or the rich, pure white garments of sinlessness we are given in Christ. Patches won't work. We cannot mix the two.

Instead, we must change our "rags" for "riches", and do it altogether and all at one time!

Luk 5:39

This was the Pharisees' attitude: the "old wine" (Moses' Law, tradition) was "better" -- or so they thought. But the "new wine" of Christ was ALIVE!

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