We have in this Chapter the Lord Jesus teaching the People: the miraculous Draught of Fishes; the Leper cleansed; a Man with a Palsy healed; and the Call of Matthew.
(1) And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, (2) And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. (3) And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
I pray the Reader to pause over this interesting account of the Lord's preaching, and the eagerness of the people to hear Him, who spake as never man spake. Let the Reader figure to himself the thronging multitude, pressing upon him, and hanging upon his very lips, to catch the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. Doth it not remind the Reader of what is said of Christ, Psalms 45:2 Grace is poured into thy lips! And of what the Church, in her rapturous view of Jesus, hath said; Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. Song of Solomon 1:2. So precious, so very precious are all the words and manifestations of Jesus, that the Church could hang upon Christ's lips forever.
(4) Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. (5) And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. (6) And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their net brake. (7) And they beckoned unto their partners which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. (8) When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (9) For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: (10) And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. (11) And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
Very many blessed things are contained in this short history of the miraculous draught of fishes. I might call upon the Reader to remark with me, what kindness to the poor fishermen, who had toiled all night and caught nothing, in thus immediately providing for them and their households. I might observe also, what a beautiful application was hereby made of the Lord's sermon. These, and other remarks, might be gathered from it of an instructive nature. But I pass by all these, in order to call the attention of the Reader to a point, yet vastly more momentous; namely, the testimony which this miracle of the Lord Jesus carried with it to the mind of Peter of the Godhead of Christ. For the Apostle's falling down at the feet of Jesus and crying out, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord, was altogether expressive what his views of Jesus at that time were. Peter, it should seem, at the moment recollected what the Lord had said to Moses in the Mount. Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live. Exodus 33:20. And under these impressions, holy men concluded, that the sight of God must produce instant death. Hence Manoah, in after ages, when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and his wife, and did wonderously, expected death: We shall surely die, (said he,) because we have seen God. Judges 13:22. Peter felt all this, and under a conscious sense of sin, desired the Lord to depart from him. The Apostle was convinced, that nothing short of an Almighty power could have produced such a miracle as was then shewn, and therefrom drew his conclusion of the Godhead of Christ. I hope the Reader will as readily, and from the same power as taught Peter, be led to the same conclusion, and then the passage will appear in all its beauty. See Matthew 16:13-17.
(12) And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold, a man full of leprosy; who seeing Jesus, fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. (13) And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; Be thou clean; and immediately the leprosy departed from him. (14) And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. (15) But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear: and to be healed by him of their infirmities. (16) And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
For observations on the history of the leper, See Matthew 8:2, etc.
(17) And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that 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. (18) And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. (19) And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. (20) And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. (21) And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? (22) But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? (23) Whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? (24) But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go unto thine house. (25) And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. (26) And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
I cannot suppose that the cure of the man with the palsy was at the same time as those doctors were present; for Mark, in his relation of this miracle, doth not notice their presence; and moreover it is said, in the close of the wonderful act, the lookers on were all amazed, and they glorified God. A circumstance never ascribed to those men, who only came to entrap Christ, and to accuse him. Concerning this miracle of the paralytic, I have very largely dwelt upon it, Mark 2:2-12, to which therefore I refer.
(27) And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. (28) And he left all, rose up, and followed him. (29) And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. (30) But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? (31) And Jesus answering, said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. (32) I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (33) And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? (34) And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? (35) But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. (36) And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. (37) And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. (38) But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. (39) No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
We have this passage almost literally, Matthew 9:9, etc. I refer therefore to the observations which were then offered. The last verse indeed is an addition to the subject, and only made by Luke; but the sense and doctrine is the same. It should seem to have been a proverbial expression, and well understood in a wine country like that of Judea. But the spiritual sense of it, in application to our Lord's discourse, appears to have been thus: No man having drunk into the spirit of the faith of the old disciples, the Patriarchs, and Prophets, concerning Christ, will desire to taste of any other. That which was from the beginning, and in which the fathers among the faithful all lived and died, is the old wine of God's covenant love. And he which hath drank into this will drink of no other. Christ's love is better than wine! Song of Solomon 1:2.
Reader! think what privileges the men of that generation possessed, which had Christ himself for their preacher! He, who was himself the whole of the covenant, to be the messenger, and administrator of it also! Well might the people press upon him to hear the word of God! And, Reader! see how immediately after the sermon was finished, he kindly rewarded the attendance of his disciples with the supply of fishes. What a testimony at the same time of his being Lord and proprietor, both of earth and sea. Lord! let such a display of thy sovereignty have the same effect on my heart, as on that of Peter; not to say Lord! depart from me, but to impress my mind as his was, that I may say, Thou art my Lord and my God!
Oh! for grace, when I read of this leper, and hear of the mercy shewn to the paralytic, to have faith in my God! Yes! blessed Jesus, all power is thine to cleanse both the leprosy of soul and body; and to remove the crippled state of all thy redeemed, until the lame man shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing. Like Levi, Lord! I would take thee home to my house, to my heart, and invite other poor sinners to the banquet of my God. No Pharisaical fastings would I set up, by way of recommending myself to the Lord; but rejoice in this, Christ came not to call the self-righteous, but sinners to repentance. No patched up garments, no new wine of the Gospel to receive in the old skin of nature; but pray that He who sits upon the throne, making all things new, while He himself remains eternally and unchangeably the same, would make my heart new, and renew a right spirit within me. Lord Jesus! do thou all this, and more; and cause thou me to drink of the old wine of thine everlasting love, which goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany