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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Luke 5

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Disciples Are Called

A. The call of four fishermen.

1. (Luk 5:1-3) Jesus teaches from a boat.

So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.

a. The multitude pressed around Him to hear the word of God: The large crowd is testimony to the increasing popularity of Jesus as a teacher. The crowd was so big that Jesus got into one of the boats and taught the multitudes from the boat.

b. One of the boats, which was Simon's: Simon must have felt privileged to have Jesus teach from his boat. We can also be sure that Simon listened to this teaching all the more attentively.

2. (Luk 5:4-7) The miraculous catch of fish.

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

a. He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets: Peter (Simon) was kind enough to allow Jesus to use his boat. Jesus is kind enough to direct Peter's fishing efforts. We can never give more to Jesus than He will give to us.

b. Master, we have toiled all night: The particular ancient Greek word Luke used for Master is unique to Luke's Gospel. The word has the ideas "commander," "leader," or perhaps even "boss." With this title, Peter shows he is willing to take orders from Jesus.

c. We have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net: Peter could have come up with any number of possible excuses.

- "I worked all night and I'm tired."
- "I know a lot more about fishing than some carpenter."
- "The best fishing is at night, not in the day time."
- "All these crowds and loud teaching has scared the fish away."
- "We already washed our nets."
- "Jesus may know religion but He doesn't know fishing."

d. They caught a great number of fish: Peter didn't make such excuses, and His faith in Jesus was well rewarded. Peter understood that he probably knew more about fishing than a carpenter did and that he had worked all night without any results. The only reason why Peter did what Jesus asked was because he believed in Jesus, not because the circumstances seemed right.

i. It makes all the difference in the world when our work is directed by Jesus. We can work-even work hard-for a long time with no results. But when Jesus directs our work, we see results.

ii. How many harvests do we miss out on because we make excuses instead of doing what Jesus said?

iii. The story shows us that the worst excuse for not doing what God wants you to do is because you've been a failure in the past. Peter had fished all night with no results, but was instantly blessed when the Lord directed His work.

e. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them: Peter had to work with others to get the job done. "Some will rather leave souls to perish than admit of partners in the sacred work. It is an intolerable pride to think nothing done well but what we do ourselves; and a diabolic envy to be afraid lest others should be more successful than we are." (Clarke)

3. (Luk 5:8-11) Peter's reaction and the call of four disciples.

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men." So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

a. He fell down at Jesus' knees: This was a dramatic gesture, but we should not think that this was not the first time these men met Jesus. This was the time when they made a full-time commitment to following after Jesus.

b. Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord: When Peter saw the great power of Jesus-displayed in Jesus' knowledge in an area where He should have no knowledge-it made Peter realize his own spiritual bankruptcy compared to Jesus.

i. Because Peter was such an experienced fisherman, and because he knew how unfavorable the conditions were, he knew all the more what a great miracle this was.

c. Do not be afraid: In the grammar of the ancient Greek, this is literally stop being fearful; it calms an existing fear. Peter was afraid of Jesus in the sense of holding Him in such great awe, but Jesus tells Him to put away that fear. God wants to relate to us on the principle of love, not the principle of a cowering fear.

d. From now on you will catch men: Clarke says that the word catch signifies to catch something alive. That is true evangelism; it isn't to bring dead people into a building, but to bring real life.

e. They forsook all and followed Him: The catch itself was not as important as what it showed them about Jesus. It showed them that He was much more than any carpenter, and this caused them to follow Jesus.

f. They forsook all and followed Him: Jesus chose unlearned, unlettered men, but He taught them. You don't need fancy degrees and education to start out in ministry, but you must enroll yourself in the University of the Word.

i. These four (as well as Moses, David, Gideon, Matthew, and Paul, among others) were called while already at work. God's call usually comes while we are busy.

B. Jesus heals a leper.

1. The Messiah's ministry as a healer was prophesied: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. (Isaiah 35:5-6)

a. Also, the presence of so much sickness and disease among Israel betrays their lack of obedience to the Sinai Covenant and their current low spiritual state. God promised that such curses would come upon them if they were disobedient to His covenant (Deuteronomy 28).

2. (Luk 5:12) The leper begs Jesus for help.

And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

a. A man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus: The condition of leprosy is a model of sin and its effects. Just like sin it is a contagious, debilitating disease that corrupts a man and makes him essentially dead while alive.

i. Lepers were universally scorned by society and religion; they were especially despised by the Rabbis, who saw their state as the particular judgment of God.

ii. In Jesus' time rabbis spoke about how badly they would treat lepers. One boasted that he refused to buy even an egg on a street where he saw a leper, another bragged that he threw rocks at lepers when he saw them.

b. Lord, if You are willing: The leper has no doubt whatsoever about the ability of Jesus to heal. His only question is if Jesus is willing to heal.

i. In addition, this is the first place in the gospel where Jesus is called Lord. This term was particularly meaningful in light of the fact that the word Lord was used to translate the Hebrew word for Yahweh.

c. Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean: This leper wants more than healing. He wants cleansing, not only from the leprosy, but from all its debilitating effects on his life and soul.

3. (Luk 5:13) Jesus touches the leper and he is cleansed.

Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him.

a. I am willing: Jesus' assurance that I am willing simply answers the man's question, and gives us a starting point for the times we wonder if Jesus is willing to heal. We should assume Jesus is willing to heal, unless He shows us differently.

i. How can we know if Jesus is willing to heal us? By assuming that He is, and by listening to His if He would want to tell us differently. This is how it happened with the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

b. He put out His hand and touched him: This is a bold and compassionate touch from Jesus. It was against the ceremonial law to touch a leper, which made the touch all the more meaningful to the afflicted man. Of course, as soon as Jesus touched him, he was no longer a leper!

i. Jesus often varied the manner of healing, and usually He chose a particular manner that would be meaningful to the afflicted individual.

4. (Luk 5:14) Jesus commands the healed man to give testimony of his healing to the priests only.

And He charged him to tell no one, "But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded."

a. He charged him to tell no one: Why did Jesus often command people to be somewhat secretive about their healing? His desire was to keep down the crowds until the proper time for His formal revelation to Israel, which was an exact date as prophesied in Daniel 9.

i. In addition, Jesus' miracles (though they did give testimony to His ministry) were not primarily calculated to make Him famous or a celebrity. Jesus healed to meet the needs of specific individuals.

b. But go and show yourself to the priest: Jesus does command the man to give a testimony to the priests, and what a testimony this was! The Mosaic Law prescribed specific sacrifices to be conducted upon the healing of a leper, and the priests had to "blow the dust" off that portion of their law (Leviticus 14).

5. (Luk 5:15-16) Jesus fame as a healer increases.

However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

a. Great multitudes came together to hear … so He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed: Jesus never cultivated a following as a healer, so when the crowds started coming for mostly that reason, He made it a special point to withdraw into the wilderness for prayer. The demands of life pushed Jesus to prayer, not from it.

C. Jesus' power to forgive and heal.

1. (Luk 5:17-19) Jesus' teaching is interrupted.

Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.

a. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them: On this day, Jesus taught an audience of religious leaders and common people, but Jesus was there as far more than a teacher-the power of the Lord was present to heal them. The power of God is here to more than instruct us, it is to here to directly touch and change our lives.

i. Wasn't the power of the Lord always present to heal? Yes, but there are times when God pours out special blessings in such areas. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the power of the Lord was present to heal them after Jesus withdrew into the wilderness and prayed (Luke 5:16).

b. There were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by: The Pharisees were devoted and zealous, but for them religion consisted in an exact outward obedience to the law, and they believed that God only loved those that did as they did.

i. Pharisee meant "separated one." They separated themselves from everything they thought was unholy, and they thought everyone was separated from the love of God, except themselves.

c. They went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus: The effort the friends of the paralyzed man go to in order to bring him to Jesus certainly shows determination and a confidence in Jesus. They certainly didn't want to pull him back up to the roof.

2. (Luk 5:20-22) Jesus declares the paralyzed man's sins forgiven.

When He saw their faith, He said to him, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts?

a. Man, your sins are forgiven you: When he forgave the paralytic, Jesus was not saying that the man was especially sinful, or that his paralysis was directly caused by sin; rather He was addressing the man's greatest need, and the common root of all pain and suffering.

b. Who can forgive sins but God alone? There was no error in the thinking of the scribes and Pharisees. It is true that only God can forgive sins. Their error was in failing to see that God was right there among them in the person of Jesus.

i. This reminds us that only God can solve our sin problem. We can't even forgive ourselves, because we don't have the power and authority to forgive ourselves. We must be persuaded of God's forgiveness in our lives.

3. (Luk 5:23-26) Jesus demonstrates the power and authority of God alone.

"Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise up and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"; He said to the man who was paralyzed, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, "We have seen strange things today!"

a. Which is easier to say: With man, both forgiveness and miraculous healing are impossible, but with God they are easy. Jesus demonstrated He has the power to do the invisible (forgive a man's sins) by doing something miraculous that they could see (healing his paralysis).

D. The call of Levi (Matthew).

1. (Luk 5:27-28) A tax collector is called to follow Jesus.

After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.

a. He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi: So far, Jesus has handled a paralytic, a leper, and a demoniac. Now He is ready for the worst of the group-a tax collector.

b. Tax collectors were despised as traitors and extortioners. As a class they were excommunicated from the Jewish faith.

c. He left all: "This must have meant a considerable sacrifice, for tax collectors were normally wealthy. Matthew must have been the richest of the apostles." (Morris)

2. (Luk 5:29-32) Jesus is accused of associating with sinners.

Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, "Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

a. Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house: Though it was great sacrifice for Matthew, and there was no turning back (fishing would be much easier to take up again than tax collecting), he wasn't sad. He threw a party instead.

i. One reason Matthew threw the party is because he wanted his friends to meet Jesus. A saved man doesn't want to go to heaven alone.

b. And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples: The accusation comes indirectly against Jesus, through His disciples. People attack Jesus in the same way today, through His disciples.

c. Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick: Jesus' answer shows us what kind of people are really willing to come to Him as Savior-those who recognize their own need for salvation.

i. Some people think they will come to Jesus for a little bit of cosmetic surgery. They don't think they are sick but they think they could use a little improvement. Jesus, the Great Physician, only admits patients who see themselves are truly sick and in need of a doctor.

ii. The church is the only group in the world where you have to be unqualified before you can join.

3. (Luk 5:33-39) Jesus declares that under Him, things are different.

Then they said to Him, "Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?" And He said to them, "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days." Then He spoke a parable to them: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'"

a. Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? Jesus answered their question with an allusion to the wedding practices of His day. A wedding feast was the most vivid picture of joy and happiness in that culture. During the weeklong wedding feast it was understood that joy was more important than conformity to religious rituals. If any ceremonial observance would detract from the joy of a wedding feast, it was not required. Jesus says that His followers should have this kind of happiness.

i. Basically, they though Jesus was too happy. When was the last time you were accused of being too cheerful or too happy?

b. No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one: "Patching up an old garment with a piece of a new garment not only disfigures the new garment, but also causes the old garment to become more ragged than ever, for the new piece has still to shrink and will then pull the old threadbare garment to pieces. Just as fatal will it be to adapt the principles of Jesus to the old systems." (Geldenhuys)

c. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved: Jesus' point is clear. You can't fit His new life into the old forms. This explains why Jesus did not begin a reform movement within Judaism, working with the rabbinical schools and such. Jesus says, "I haven't come to patch up your old practices. I come with a whole new set of clothes."

d. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, "The old is better": Just because people are more comfortable with the old, they assume that it is better. The epitaph on the tombstone of many a dead church reads: "We never did it that way before."

© 2000 David Guzik-No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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