Bible Commentaries
Luke 5

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

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Verses 1-11

27. Call of Peter, Andrew, James and John (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11)

From the hills of Nazareth the story moves to the fishing villages of Capernaum and Bethsaida on the northern shore of Lake Galilee. The fishermen brothers Peter and Andrew had already met Jesus and accepted him as the Messiah. So too, it seems, had another pair of fishermen brothers, James and John (see notes on John 1:35-42). Jesus now asked the four men to take the further step of leaving their occupations so that they could become his followers in the task of bringing people into the kingdom God (Mark 1:16-20).

Peter learnt more of what lay ahead when, after a day on which they had caught no fish, Jesus told him to let down the nets again. Peter obeyed, with the result that he caught so many fish the nets almost broke (Luke 5:1-7). The incident impressed upon Peter that Jesus was indeed Lord, and in humble submission he fell at the feet of Jesus and confessed his sinfulness (Luke 5:8-11).

Note: The Sea (or Lake) of Galilee, the Sea (or Lake) of Gennesaret, and the Sea (or Lake) of Tiberias were three names for the same place.

Verses 12-16

30. Jesus cleanses a leper (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16)

People with leprosy and other skin diseases were considered unclean and a danger to public health. They were outcasts from society (Leviticus 13:45-46). If they were healed they had to offer sacrifices to symbolize their cleansing and express their thanks (Leviticus 14:1-20).

On the first recorded occasion when Jesus healed a leper, he did what anyone else would normally avoid doing; he touched the man. He then told the man to present himself to the priest (whose duty was to examine him and confirm that he had been healed; Leviticus 14:3) and to offer the sacrifices required by the law. He also told the man, clearly and firmly, not to broadcast what had happened, as he did not want to attract people who were curious to see a miracle-worker but had no sense of spiritual need (Mark 1:40-44).

The man disobeyed and as a result Jesus’ work was hindered. So many people came to see him that he was unable to teach in the towns as he wished. He continued to help the needy, but the pressures upon him caused him all the more to seek his Father’s will through prayer (Mark 1:45; Luke 5:16).

Verses 17-26

31. Jesus heals a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26)

This story shows the first signs of organized Jewish opposition to Jesus. A group of religious leaders from Jerusalem, Judea and Galilee came, with evil motives, to find out for themselves what Jesus was doing and saying (Luke 5:17).

Some friends of a paralyzed man were so sure Jesus could heal him that they allowed no obstacle to stop them from bringing the man to him. In his response Jesus did more than heal the man. He went to the root of all suffering in a fallen world, sin, and on the basis of the faith that had been displayed, he announced forgiveness of the man’s sins. The Jewish leaders saw that Jesus was claiming to be God, for only God can forgive sins. Either Jesus was God or he was a blasphemer (Luke 5:18-21).

Jesus left his critics in no doubt of the meaning of his words and actions. A person can just as easily say ‘You are forgiven’ as say ‘You are healed’, but whereas the first statement cannot be proved by external evidence, the second statement can. If, therefore, Jesus’ claim to heal the man’s disease could be proved true, his claim to forgive the man’s sins must also be accepted as true. When the man, in response to Jesus’ words, stood up and walked, the onlookers had clear proof that Jesus was all that he claimed to be (Luke 5:22-26).

Verses 27-32

32. Call of Matthew (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32)

The next person to join Jesus’ group of chosen disciples was the tax collector Matthew, also known as Levi (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13-14). Matthew took Jesus home for a meal and invited his fellow tax collectors and other friends to come and meet his new master. Jews despised tax collectors as being unpatriotic, dishonest and irreligious. The Pharisees despised Jesus when they saw him eating with them (Matthew 9:10-11; Luke 5:27-30).

Jesus replied that if tax collectors were as bad as the Pharisees claimed, then tax collectors were just the sort of people who needed his help. God was pleased with Jesus’ action in showing mercy to outcasts. He was not pleased with the sacrifices of those who thought they were superior to others (Matthew 9:12-13; Luke 5:31-32).

Verses 33-39

33. Why Jesus’ disciples did not fast (Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39)

Both John the Baptist’s disciples and the Pharisees were slow to realize that Jesus’ coming had brought in a new era. Their traditional ceremonies and fastings were now of no use. The coming of Jesus may be compared to the coming of a bridegroom to his wedding feast. In a time of such joy no one thinks of fasting, and therefore Jesus’ disciples did not fast while he was with them. But Jesus would be taken away from them and killed, and then they would fast because of their great sorrow. Their sorrow, however, would be turned into joy, because Jesus would rise from death victoriously (Mark 2:18-20; Luke 5:33-35).

Jesus reminded his hearers that, now that he had come, they should not expect to continue the old traditions of the Jewish religion. He had not come to repair, improve or update Judaism. Judaism was useless, worn out, finished. Jesus brought something that was entirely new. Judaism was like an old worn out coat that could not be mended; it was like a brittle old wineskin that could not stand the pressure of new wine (Mark 2:21-22; Luke 5:36-38). Yet the Pharisees preferred their old worn out religion (Luke 5:39).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.