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Bible Commentaries
Luke 5

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-39

Luke 5:3 . He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Here he used those beautiful parables, in Matthew 13:0.; but Matthew’s gospel being extant, St. Luke does not repeat the parables in this place.

Luke 5:5 . Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing. The obedience of Peter is the point which arrests attention, and in a case where success was improbable. How much he shames those christians who boast of faith and love to Christ, but lifting up the little finger, except in coïncidence with their own will, is a cross at which the lukewarm shrink, and lose the glory that follows implicit obedience.

Luke 5:10 . Henceforth thou shalt catch men. The Lord spake this to Peter, while on his knees; but the words of Matthew, “I will make you fishers of men,” were spoken to James and John, as well as to Peter and Andrew. Peter had obeyed him as a prophet, in casting his net: now he followed him as the Messiah, the Son of God.

Luke 5:17-18 . As he was teaching, in some large house whose door had opened to the Saviour, there were pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. So far Luke enlarges on Matthew 9:1-7. Those doctors and religious men had come to see and to hear the new prophet. They saw the miracle on the paralytic and approved; but on hearing the voice of pardon, they affected to be horrified at the blasphemy. We find them afterwards asking for a sign, supposed by our divines to be a cloud of glory, like that which appeared in the desert. This cloud would no more have converted them than it did their fathers. The carnal mind cannot be converted. The Lord therefore promised them the sign of his resurrections; yea, the resurrection of the rejected stone, which should crush their nation to powder.

Luke 5:27 . He saw a publican named Levi, or Matthew. He asked not for time and proof as we do, for he knew him. He knew that he had an ardour of soul commensurate to the glory of the work. He knew that he had a heart that would make every sacrifice, whether of gain or promotion, which the work of the Lord required. He knew that Matthew would act with decision, would resign his office, would make a friendly supper for his colleagues, and cast himself on the providence of God. And what did Matthew lose? Did not the Saviour give him in this world a hundredfold reward of evangelical glory, and in the world to come the first reward of life everlasting. Oh that we had more of Matthew’s faith.


Lovely is the family of Christ in every view: sincere piety, godly simplicity, benevolence, and love, are its uniform characteristics. This family, as it was first formed near Jordan, merely on the ground of piety and brotherhood, was all simplicity and love. John 1:45-51. A good man could not be in their company without loving them, in defiance of public prejudice. In the course of a few months, these friends in the Lord met again; for things which seem accident and chance with men, are the ordinations of divine providence. Jesus, after his circuit through Galilee, visited the towns on its spacious lake; and being pressed by the multitudes, he stepped on board a fishing boat for the convenience of address, but he knew his own designs.

Christ pays good wages to those who make sacrifices, or who suffer for his name. He has promised them a hundredfold reward in this life; and this day in the draught of fish he gave St. Peter a pledge in hand, that he might trust for the future. Yes, and he gave it when Peter could scarcely believe in the taking of a single fish. Master, said he, we have toiled all night and taken nothing; nevertheless, at thy word, I will let down the net.

This miraculous draught of fish impressed St. Peter’s mind with exalted ideas of the godhead of Christ. He saw his omniscience, as knowing the shoals which sport in the deep. He saw his omnipotence, as having the sovereignty of all creatures in his hand. He no longer regarded Jesus as a great prophet, or an Elijah, but as inhabiting the fulness of the godhead, for he gave not the fish in the name of the God of Abraham, but from his inherent sovereignty. Hence, from the presence of Christ, Peter made the transition to his own unworthiness and sins. Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, oh Lord. Before the casting of the net, it was, Master, we have toiled all night: now it is, depart from me, oh Lord. I am too mean to deserve the least notice of him who reigns in the worlds above, as in the deeps below. Thus grace conferred on gracious souls, humbles them at the Lord’s feet. Jacob was overpowered with astonishment and awe, when JEHOVAH the Angel departed. Genesis 32:30. Isaiah also, when he saw the glory of the Messiah, said, I am a man of unclean lips: chap. 6. John 12:41. Hence, all who are called and commissioned of God to preach the gospel, should have exalted ideas of Him who sent them out into the world. This will abase them as sinful dust in his presence, and give an air of majesty to their ministry which mortals are unable to resist.

Ministers who engage with Christ must have an unlimited confidence in his providence and care. Peter and Andrew having received the promise, “I will make you fishers of men,” left all and followed him. So did James and John, who presently received a similar call. The supply of fish would be a most encouraging pledge of future mercies, and a happy token of the great success they should have in their Lord’s work. Let ministers learn, so far as circumstances will admit, to give themselves wholly to the work, and the Lord will enlarge their sphere, and supply their lack. It is a consolation to them that they have not thrust themselves into the work. The inward call, long concealed by the bashful modesty of youth, in its more delicate and private appearance, received the sanction of the church; and ultimately, those who are authorized to judge, called them forth to the work. Let them therefore persevere under the blessing of God, and the good wishes of his people; and in the world to come they will be found to stand high in the divine favour, and receive the great reward.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/luke-5.html. 1835.
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