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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Luke 5

 

 

Verses 1-11

b. The Miraculous Draught Of Fishes ( Luke 5:1-11)

1And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to[FN1] hear the word ofGod, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2And saw two [little] ships[FN2] standing by [the shore of] the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing theirnets 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 peopleout of the ship 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep [water], 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: neverthelessat Thy word I will let down the net 6 And when they had this done, theyinclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake [began to break]. 7And 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 [Go outfrom me, i.e., from my ship]; for I am a sinful Prayer of Manasseh, O Lord 9 For he was astonished [astonishment seized him], and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes 10 which they had taken: And so was also [and so also did it seize] James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fearnot; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.[FN3] 11And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

General Remarks.—In the narrative of the miraculous draught of fishes, the main question is whether this occurrence is identical with the calling of four disciples, which is related by Matthew ( Luke 4:18-22) and Mark ( Luke 1:16-20), or whether it is actually distinct from this and did not occur till later. The distinction between the narrative of Luke and that of the other Synoptics is so great that many have maintained the latter opinion (Krabbe, Sepp, Hug). Yet in the nature of the case it is less probable that a calling crowned with such a conclusion should have been repeated twice in so short a time, and it can be shown that the narratives admit without great trouble of being brought into agreement. As respects the distinction in the notation of time, Matthew tells us only that the calling of the four took place while Jesus was walking on the shore; Mark, that the Lord after this calling returned into the city, and healed the demoniac in the synagogue, while Luke, on the other hand, has placed this last miracle before the miraculous draught of fishes. We believe that the arrangement of the events which Mark under Peter’s guidance maintains, deserves the preference, and that therefore Luke ( Luke 4:31-44) already relates by anticipation what did not take place till after the miraculous draught. Perhaps he has let the events in the synagogue at Capernaum follow immediately after the portrayal of the occurrences in the synagogue at Nazareth, that faith and unbelief in the two places might be the more strongly contrasted. Luke 5:31 he only speaks in general of one of the Sabbaths which Jesus spent at Capernaum. The distinction in locality is removed when we observe that here also the one in no wise denies what the two others say. We do not read in Matthew and Mark any such thing as that our Lord standing on the shore from there called the four, but only that He was walking on the strand. Nothing hinders us from subjoining, what Luke alone relates, that thither also the people followed Him, and Hebrews, in order to preach, ascended a ship. If Luke also had failed to make us acquainted with this, we should have had to conclude, even from Matthew and Mark, that our Lord went into the ship. If Peter was mending nets, is it probable that Jesus would have called out to them from the shore: Leave all and follow me? A third difficulty, that Luke does not mention Andrew at all, is solved by the consideration that Peter in his narrative is so entirely the main person that even the sons of Zebedee are thereby thrown more or less into the shade. Besides he speaks also of other persons who were present in Peter’s ship ( Luke 5:2; Luke 5:5; Luke 5:9), and taken with amazement at the astonishing miracle, and ( Luke 6:14) enumerates Andrew among the twelve. The question left by him unanswered as to how the latter came to the Lord, is answered by Matthew and Mark, and if there still appears to be a difficulty in the fact that Luke alone relates the miracle and Matthew and Mark only the word of the Saviour, we know no better answer than this: “Undoubtedly to him who stands in Strauss’ point of view every single miracle would of necessity occasion afresh so much astonishment and headache that he would not be able to pass over one; but it being presupposed, on the other hand, that Jesus really wrought miracles and, moreover, many miracles, we cannot see why every evangelist was obliged to relate every miracle” (Ebrard). Perhaps Mark has omitted this circumstance of so much moment to Peter, even as he does not relate the walking of the apostle upon the water, because the humble apostle, under whose influence he wrote, wished rather to see it passed over. With Luke this reason did not weigh, and he freely communicates what redounds to the honor of the Lord as well as of the disciple. In brief, if only we make no unreasonable demands, we account it possible and easy to unite the three Synoptic accounts into a whole without needing to do violence to any one of them.

As respects John, he does not communicate this miracle, but has, on the other hand, related a similar calling of five disciples, among whom are three of these here named ( Luke 1:35-52), and the question spontaneously presses itself on us how the one can be brought into agreement with the other. We believe that there is not here the least reason for speaking of a contradiction between the evangelists (Strauss, weisse, B. Baur, Fritzsche, De Wette, Theile, Von Ammon). John describes the first becoming acquainted on the occasion of an unexpected meeting; the Synoptics relate the nearer connection between the Saviour and the disciples. After the first stay of Andrew, John, and Peter with Jesus ( John 1), they had gone away as His friends and had accompanied Him upon His Galilean journey, so that they, even at the beginning, as His disciples baptized ( John 4:2). But still it was as yet a free, not a binding, intercourse, in which they were at liberty from time to time to return to the fish-net. Therefore we have, for instance, in the synagogue at Nazareth ( Luke 4:16-30) not met them in the Saviour’s company. But in what way now this preliminary connection passes over into an abiding relation and in what way the apostles were called and set apart to the apostolic function, this is related to us in reference to these four in the narrative of the miraculous draught of fishes.

Luke 5:1. The lake of Gennesaret.—See Lange on Matthew 4:18.

Luke 5:2. And were washing their nets; ut peracto opere, Bengel, comp. Luke 5:5. That these fishers here appear almost as strangers cannot surprise us, since Luke has as yet not made mention of these friends of the Saviour with even a word.

Luke 5:3. Which was Simon’s.—It appears that Simon had not left the ship. That the Saviour, ascended this ship, not that of the sons of Zebedee, has probably its ground only in the fact that the latter at that moment chanced to be ashore, not on board their vessel. If Simon was older than Andrew, it becomes so much the plainer why he as owner of the ship is first named.

Luke 5:4. Launch out into the deep water.—As the first command had put the obedience of Peter to a slight test, so here his faith is exercised by an apparently arbitrary demand of the Saviour. To him as steersman the command is addressed in the singular; the plural χαλάσατε, κ.τ.λ., has its force with reference to the rest of the crew of the boat, who must have been active therein. That Peter considers this latter command also as addressed to himself personally appears from the answer, Luke 5:5. Without doubt, after a night of unsuccessful toil this injunction to take up his work again in full day must have appeared singular to him, but he already knows enough of the Lord to bring his fisherman’s theory as a sacrifice to his faith at Jesus’ word alone.—Master. Not the common διδάσκαλα, but ὲπιστάτα; about the same as the Hebrew רַבִּי, a title which was given even to such teachers as any one entertained respect for, without as yet standing in a personal relation to them, comp. Luke 17:13.

Luke 5:6. Their net began to break.—If there was here an actual rent, it was, of course, only a beginning of tearing, since otherwise the whole draught might have been immediately lost again. So in like manner the allusion to the sinking of the vessels must be understood cum grano salis, without, however, our being actually obliged with De Wette to see here an exaggeration.

Luke 5:7. And they beckoned.—According to Matthew’s and Mark’s account, also, the two ships lay close enough together to be able with a slight signal to join each other, the more easily as the crew of the second ship had doubtless observed the uncommon occurrence on the first with intense curiosity. That they for astonishment and fear were incapable of speaking, and, therefore, had to limit themselves to beckoning like Zacharias ( Luke 1), is not said by Luke, but only by Euthym. Zigab. and Theophylact.

Luke 5:8. Go out from me.—The cause of this crushing impression of wonder upon Peter is easy to explain. His words by no means entitle us to compare him to a credulous fool who trembles when he unexpectedly espies an arch-magician near him (Von Ammon, Leben Jesu, ii. p378). It appears to us, on the other hand, that the sequel must not be overlooked. Peter had as yet been able to judge no other miracle which he had seen, so well as this. It belonged to his calling, it took place on his vessel, with his fish-net, after his own fruitless endeavors, in his immediate presence. In the case of earlier works of the Saviour, his understanding had indeed doubtless given silent acquiescence, but here both understanding and heart were constrained to bow themselves before a present majesty. Thankfulness and surprise, after so long disappointment, unite themselves with a deep consciousness of his unworthiness, so that he is no longer able to abide in the presence of the Holy One. Had his conscience, perhaps, something to reproach him with that be after a voluntary association of a month with Jesus had again returned to his calling? Had the words: “We have toiled the whole night and have taken nothing,” been expressed in a tone of displeasure and doubt? Or did there perchance in this place concur an instinctive dread of danger when he felt the sinking of the ship, and did he entreat for preservation? In such a disposition as that of Peter, various causes may work together so as to call forth such a cry of distress. That he did not confess any particular offence, but his general sinfulness in the presence of the Holy One, hardly needs, we presume, any proof. The entreaty; “Depart from me,” the Lord heard in spirit, while He dealt exactly against its letter and turned in to be with the man who with trembling hand waved Him from himself.

Luke 5:10. And so also did it seize James and John.—See on Matthew 10:2-4. In respect to their relationship to the Saviour, we must refer the reader to the dissertation of Wieseler in the Studien und Kritiken, 1840, p648 ff, who has convincingly demonstrated that Salome, the wife of Zebedee, was an own sister of Mary, the mother of the Lord, so that her children were own cousins of Jesus. In John 19:25 there are not three, but four women named, and Mary, the wife of Cleopas, must be carefully distinguished from His mother’s sister Salome, the wife of Zebedee. [It will be noticed that among the women mentioned as being present at the crucifixion, Matthew 27:56, three are named as conspicuous: Mary Magdalen, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. Mark 15:40 the same three are mentioned, only that Zebedee’s wife is mentioned by the name of Salome. We have, however, no reason to doubt that Salome and Zebedee’s wife are one and the same. In John 19:25, besides the mother of Jesus, whose presence is not mentioned by the other two evangelists, we find mentioned Mary Magdalen and Mary, the wife of Cleopas, whose identity with Mary, the mother of James and Joses, we have no reason to call in question. But where is Salome? The whole passage reads thus: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” The question here is: Besides the mother of our Lord, are there two women mentioned here, or three? Is Mary, the wife of Cleopas, to be taken as identical with His mother’s sister, or as different? If the former, Salome is not to be found, and John has omitted bearing witness to this fidelity of his own mother. If the latter, Salome is identical with our Lord’s mother’s sister, and the three whom the first two Synoptics mention, are also mentioned here.—C. C. S.]

Luke 5:11. They forsook all.—Not only the ship, but the rich haul. Zebedee soon returned without his sons to Bethsaida ( Mark 1:20), while they proceed with the Lord through Capernaum’s gate, where He immediately after (see above), in the synagogue and in the house of Peter, works the miracles already related by Luke in anticipation ( Luke 4:31-42), to enter with Him afterwards upon the journey through Galilee, which had been already, Luke 4:43-44, mentioned with a word, to be afterwards, Luke 5:12 f, described more in detail.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. We have here in Luke the first account of an anticipatory choice of apostles, which is the less to be passed over unnoticed since the Saviour evidently lays so much weight upon it. Our attention is from the beginning drawn to it by the fact that the Saviour seeks the disciples and does not wait until they approach Him of their own impulse, but takes the first step towards them, so that He can afterwards say to them: Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you. In this act the word, Luke 5:10, which the Saviour spoke on this occasion, bears the stamp of the deepest wisdom. It is a word of might, precisely fitted to come home to a heart like that of Peter; a brief word, but which, therefore, could the less be obliterated from the memory; a figurative word, borrowed from Simon’s own calling, which could the less be unintelligible to him as it was at the same time in congruity with the Old Testament manner of speech ( Jeremiah 16:16; Isaiah 42:10). It Isaiah, finally, a word full of promise, which, it is true, commanded that which was hardest, but promised also that which is highest and was immediately ratified by a sign.

2. It has been asked whether Peter’s draught of fishes was a miracle of omniscience or omnipotence. In other words, whether the Saviour, because of His higher knowledge, because He wished to see, saw at this moment, at a certain part of the sea, the largest number of fishes which were together, or whether Hebrews, through the mighty operation of His will, drove the finny tribes together to one point. It is not to be denied that the former admits of being received into the realm of our conceptions more easily than the latter. On the other hand, we are not to overlook the truth that according to the nature of things and the poetic declaration of the Psalm ( Psalm 8:8), the dominion over all that passeth through the paths of the seas belongs to the ideal of the perfect Son of Man.

3. The miracle here accomplished deserves to be called a striking revelation of the majesty of the Saviour. It took place within a sphere which these four disciples could judge better than any one else, and only after faith had been required of Peter and this faith had been found approved. It stands forth at the same time as a symbol of their whole subsequent apostolical activity: abundant draught of fishes at the simple word of the Lord, after a night also of fruitless wearying toil, without, however, losing the draught. It is noticeable that here there is mention of the tearing of the nets; but afterwards, in the case of a similar miracle, it is no longer mentioned, [Trench, not inaptly, regards the former miracle as symbolical of the gathering of men into the outward kingdom of God on earth, from which they may be lost; the latter one, as symbolizing the gathering of the elect souls into the kingdom of glory, none of whom will be lost.—C. C. S.]

4. In this whole work of wonders, Christ reveals Himself as the Fisher of men. It is known how dear this symbol was to the early Christians; this is testified by their monuments, rings, cups, &c, and by the characteristic word ἰχθύς itself, in which they recognized the initials of Jesus Christ, God’s Song of Solomon, Saviour; but especially by the beautiful words from the hymn of Clemens Alexandrinus:

ἁλιεῦ μερόπων

τῶν σωζομένων,

πελάγους κακίας

ἱχθῦς ἁγνούς

κύματος ἐχθροῦ

γλυκερῇ ζωῇ δελεάζων, κ.τ.λ.

[Fisher of mortals

The saved

From the sea of wickedness

Pure fish

From the hostile wave

For sweet life enticing.]

5. “Where the blessing of God operates aright, there does it operate as coals upon the head, and brings to the knowledge of sin and of grace. To be caught by the Lord, is on earth the greatest blessedness; after this there is no greater than to be able to catch men for the Lord.” Löhe.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Jesus in the midst of a throng longing for salvation.—The Fisher of men on the shore of the most remarkable sea.—All that on earth we name our own must be ready for the service of the Lord.—The Lord’s ways: 1. Other, 2. higher than man’s ways.—Even the Lord’s disciples know dark nights.—After a dark night a bright morning.—The faith of Peter: 1. Tried, 2. enduring, 3. changed into sight.—The obedience of faith: 1. Its ground, 2. its nature, 3. its blessing.—All is yours, if ye are Christ’s.—The remarkable transitions in the life of faith: 1. From disappointment to surprise, 2. from want to plenty, 3. from joy to terror, 4. from fear to hope.—The humility of Peter, Luke 5:8, compared with that of Paul, 1 Timothy 1:15.—Where a contrite heart exclaims: “Depart from me, O Lord,” there does He certainly turn in.—The beholding of the great deeds of the Saviour must lead us to holy wondering.—Whoever has once rightly feared need never fear again.—The preacher of the gospel a fisher of men.—Only he who leaves all can gain all.—The wonderful draught of fishes an image of the preaching of the gospel: 1. The wide-reaching command ( Luke 5:4), 2. the hard labor ( Luke 5:5 a.), 3. the sole might ( Luke 5:5 b.), 4. the rich fruit ( Luke 5:6-7), 5. the right temper ( Luke 5:8), 6. the highest requirement of the evangelical function ( Luke 5:10-11).—Whoever is himself caught of Jesus, must again catch others.—How admirably does Jesus understand the art of winning hearts for Himself!—Canstein:—To the Christian all places are hallowed for the transaction of divine things, whether for himself or for others.—J. Hall:—Labor in our calling, however simply it may be done, makes us fitted for the blessing of God ( Psalm 127:1-2).—Majus:—The Lord brings His own wonderfully into the deep and into the height.—Nov. Bibl. Tub.:—Whoever receives Jesus to himself, such a one does He reward with abundance, not only of spiritual but of temporal blessing.—Abundance makes not less care and trouble than lack.—Before we let the blessing of God perish, we should beckon to others and have them enjoy it with us.—Hedinger:—Spiritual poverty is the nearest way to the greatest riches in God.—Brentius:—Whoever is faithful in that which is least, to him is more committed.—Herder:—“Launch out into the deep” is God’s word of command to every one in his vocation, and let: “Lord, at Thy word,” be the answer of every one in order to draw God’s blessing with his net.—Heubner:—The miraculous draught of fishes a prophetic type of Acts 2:41.—The humility of the Christian in good fortune, first makes the blessing truly a blessing.—The blessed fishermen: 1. Blest by Jesus’ gracious presence, 2. by the rich gift, 3. by the gracious call of Jesus.—The just means of gaining temporal blessing: 1. God’s word, 2. labor, 3. trust in God, 4. acknowledgment of personal un-worthiness, 5. right use of the blessing.—Rieger:—How nothing humbles man so much as grace.—Fuchs:—Peter an example for us: 1. Hear when the Lord speaks; 2. labor when the Lord commands; 3. believe what the Lord promises; 4. follow whither the Lord calls.—Bachmann:—Concerning a blessing in our vocation: 1. We should desire it according to this order; a. hear willingly and diligently God’s word, b. go faithfully on in thy toil, c. trust the Lord thy Helper2. We should rightly apply it after this rule; a. recognize in receiving it thy unworthiness, b. prove therewith thy thankfulness, c. follow after Jesus with joyfulness.—Thomasius:—Man as he is: 1. Before the Lord comes to him, 2. when the Lord comes to him, 3. after the Lord comes to him.—Fr. Arndt:—The Christian a fisher of men.—Lisco:—Blessing in our temporal calling: 1. On what it depends; 2. of what nature it Isaiah 3. for what it inspirits us.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Luke 5:1.—Rec.: τοῦ ἀκούειν, instead of which we read with Tischendorf καὶ ἀκούειν. Not the purpose, but the circumstance is expressed. [Inter al. c. A, B, Sin.—C. C. S.]

FN#2 - Sin. has πλοῖα, but omits the preceding δύο.—C. C. S.]

FN#3 - Luke 5:10.—Ἔσῃ ζωγρῶν. The resolved form expressing that it should be his calling.—C. C. S.]


Verses 12-26

2. The first Excursion from Capernaum to the surrounding Districts. The Son of Man the Physician of the Sick, the Friend of Publicans, the Lord of the Sabbath, the Lawgiver in the Kingdom of God

Chs. Luke 5:12 to Luke 6:49

a. The Son Of Prayer of Manasseh, The Physician Of The Sick ( Luke 5:12-26)

(Parallels: Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45.—Paralytic: Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12.)

12And 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, thoucanst make me clean 13 And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: bethou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him 14 And he charged him to tell no man: but go, [said he,] and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thycleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them 15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him [did the report concerning him go abroad]: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him[FN4] of their infirmities 16 And [But] he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed [kept himselfsecluded in the solitary places, and gave himself to prayer]. 17And it came to pass on a certain day [on one of the days], as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors [teachers] of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town [village] of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord [God of Israel] was present18[in Jesus] to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy [who was paralyzed]: and they sought means to bring him in, and to layhim 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 thetiling with his couch [pallet] into the midst before Jesus 20 And when he saw theirfaith, he said unto him,[FN5] Prayer of Manasseh, thy sins are forgiven thee.[FN6] 21And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Whocan forgive sins, but God alone? 22But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering 23 said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether [Which] is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24But 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 into thine house 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay [had been lying],and departed to his own house, glorifying God 26 And they were all amazed [utter astonishment seized all], and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange [unheard of] things to-day.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

General Remarks.—Mark and Luke relate the healing of the leper immediately after the Saviour’s leaving Capernaum; Matthew, on the other hand, puts it after the Sermon on the Mount. To us the former order appears to be the most exact. A glance at Matthew 8:9., compared with Mark and Luke, gives clear indication that in this chapter of the first Gospel many miracles are chrestomathically connected without respect to an exact chronology. As Luke relates ( Luke 5:12) that this miracle took place when Jesus was in one of their towns, and Mark ( Luke 1:43), that the Saviour drove from Him (ἐξέβαλεν) him whom He had healed (apparently from a house in which the leper had stopped), this of itself proves that this miracle could not have taken place as Matthew appears to indicate to us ( Luke 8:7; comp. Luke 5:5), on the way between the Mount of Beatitudes and Capernaum, but after His entrance into an unnamed town. From Mark 1:45 it appears, moreover, that Jesus cannot have returned immediately after the healing of the leper to Capernaum, which we should otherwise conclude from Matthew 8:1-13. From all these grounds we adhere to the order of Mark and Luke. Another view will be found represented by Lange, Matthew, p150. Audiatur et altera pars.

Luke 5:12. In a certain city.—The name is not given, but from the connection it appears that it was a town in Galilee which the Lord visited on this journey, undertaken (see above) in order to visit Jerusalem at the Feast of Purim, and ending there, and which, therefore, probably lay in the direction of Judæa.

Full of leprosy.—See Lange, Matthew, p150, and the there cited authors.

Lord, if Thou wilt.—It may be assumed that the faith of the leper had been aroused and strengthened by the report that had gone ut concerning Jesus (see Luke 4:37), and which may have extended even to his neighborhood.

Luke 5:13. And He.—Mark alone adds: σπλαγχνισθείς. The stretching out of the hand, a token of miraculous power, was at the same time a revelation of condescending love, since He by touching a leper might have been accounted Levitically unclean.

Be thou clean.—“Such an imperative as the tongue of man had hitherto never uttered. Thus has hitherto no prophet healed. Thus speaks only He in the might of God who speaks and it is done.” (Stier.) That here it is no declaring a leper clean by already discovering the beginning of recovery (Von Ammon, Leben Jesu, p113), but a miraculous cleansing of a sick man whom the physician Luke designates by πλήρης λέπρας, is self-evident. Why else should silence be imposed upon the Prayer of Manasseh, and to what serves the εὐθέως of Mark?

Luke 5:14. And He charged Him.—According to Mark even in a sharp vehement tone, ἐμβριμησάμενος, from which, however, it by no means follows that the Saviour displayed any resentment against him whom He had delivered, as Von Ammon will have it.—To tell no man.—For the different explanations of this command by earlier and later expositors, see Lange, Matthew, p151.—In order to judge rightly here we must take special note of the place where, the time when, and the person on whom, the miracle was done. The Saviour finds Himself now in the heart of Galilee, in the land of longing after freedom, of enthusiasm, of insurrection. The fame of His miracles at Capernaum had undoubtedly intensified expectation in a high degree. The one healed was a man who by his coming and crying to Jesus had already shown great courage and strength of faith, who now was bound to his deliverer by bonds of most intimate gratitude, and who doubtless was thereby lacking in the necessary considerateness needful to apprehend when he should speak of Him or be silent. Here, therefore, a sharp reminder was just in place, and we do not, therefore, at all need to assume that the Saviour gave it from fear of being Himself accounted Levitically unclean, on account of His contact with the leper.

But go … and offer.—A transition from the oratio indirecta to the directa not strange in the usus loquendi of the New Testament. See Winer, § 63, 2. The here-mentioned sacrifice we find prescribed, Leviticus 14:10; Leviticus 14:21. The Saviour stoops so low as to permit His miracle to be judged by the priest as to its genuineness and completeness.

Εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς. For the priests themselves, and of what else than of Jesus’ Messianic dignity and redeeming power?

Luke 5:15. But so much the more went there a fame abroad of Him.—The cause Mark gives ( Luke 1:45); the delivered one forgets the injunction, 1 Samuel 15:22. Thankful joy makes silence impossible for him. We will not censure his behavior too severely, for it must have come hard to him not to venture to utter the name of his deliverer. It is noticeable also, that in the Gospels we never find the behavior of those who transgress such a command very severely censured. Yet, certainly he did the cause of Christ no service, since, indeed, on every hand the enthusiasm of the people soon reaches such a height that the Saviour holds it advisable to abide in a desert region, where He devotes Himself to solitary prayer. This latter, moreover, is emphasized with peculiar force by Luke, agreeably to his custom.

Luke 5:17. And it came to pass.—In view of the slender thread by which this narrative is connected with the foregoing one, nothing constrains us to suppose that this miracle took place precisely on this journey and very soon after the former one. The variance mentioned here as existing between the Saviour and the Pharisees, testifies to a later period. (See Lange, Matthew, p166.)

Καὶ δύναμις κυρίου. Not to be understood of the Lord Jesus, who, in Luke, is commonly called κύριος (“the healing power dwelling in Him revealed itself,” Olshausen), but of the Father who operated through the Son. Here also the Divine energy does not manifest itself before faith has shown itself. But while in the foregoing miracle the faith of the sick man himself appears in the fore-ground, here the sufferer is passive, and Isaiah, not only in a bodily but also in a spiritual respect, borne by the faith of those who at any cost will bring him before the feet of the Lord. There is nevertheless no ground for the supposition that he himself did not share in this faith. Would he have been brought wholly against his will in so extraordinary a way to the Saviour? On the contrary, we may name him “infirm in limb but fresh in heart, a chief warrior of faith on the litter.” Lange, Leben Jesu, ii. p665.

Luke 5:18. Παραλελυμένος. The cessation of nervous activity is a disease that is found everywhere in various forms. Sometimes it attacks the whole body, sometimes only parts of it. “The old authors named the former ἀποπληξία, the latter παράλυσις; but now I see that they call both παράλυσις. Commonly those who are attacked in all their members by severe nervous debility, are quickly taken away; if not, they live, it is true, but seldom recover their health, and for the most part drag on a miserable life, losing, moreover, their memory. The sickness of those who are partially affected, Isaiah, it is true, never severe, but often long and almost incurable.” From the physician Corn. Celsus, L3. Medicinœ, Luke 27, cited by Hug, “Criticism upon the Life of Jesus by Strauss,” 2. p20.

Luke 5:19. They went upon the housetop.—Hug, l. c. p22, shows that such a thing could be done without any danger. Comp. the valuable statements of Winer, i. p283. Even if in this dwelling there was no stair-case outside, a way could have been made over the roof of another to gain access to the place where Jesus was stopping. A breaking up of the roof right over the place where Jesus was, is the less inconceivable, inasmuch as corpses were often in this way removed from the house of death. See Sepp, ii. p160.

Luke 5:20. Prayer of Manasseh, thy sins are forgiven thee.—Only the most superficial unbelief can from this word, spoken for an entirely definite case, draw the conclusion that the Saviour at all times regarded special suffering as punishment for special sins. Here, however, trouble of conscience appears actually to stand in the way of restoration of the body, and the Saviour, who with unerring glance looks through the outward and inward condition of the sick Prayer of Manasseh, begins in this way to heal his soul.

Luke 5:21. Who is this.—This very wondering of the Pharisees shows plainly that here not only was forgiveness promised but also bestowed, which was exclusively a Divine work.—Who can forgive sins, but.—And, therefore, whoever forgives sins must be infinitely more than man. So think they, much more justly than many later scribes.

Luke 5:23. Which is easier.—Which was easier could be well made out without trouble. Miracles had other prophets also performed, but really to bestow forgiveness, that belonged to the Searcher of hearts alone, or His highest representative on earth. They think, however, that to say that sin is forgiven, is undoubtedly the easiest, particularly so long as inquiry is not made respecting the credentials of the speaker’s authority; that they may not, however, doubt longer of these latter, the Saviour accomplishes the miracle of healing, whereby the blessing of the forgiveness of sins is at once manifested and sealed.

Luke 5:25. Took up that whereon he had been lying.—Suavis locutio, lectulus hominem tulerat, nunc homo lectulum ferebat. Bengel.

Luke 5:26. They glorified God.—An admirable antithesis, the enthusiasm of the people over against the murmuring of the scribes. The dissonances dissolve themselves in harmony, the shadows in light and life.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Were we disposed with a certain school of criticism to make a distinction between more difficult and more easy miracles, the healing of the leper, undoubtedly, would belong to the category of the first. To make, by the utterance of a word, a man full of leprosy so clean that he can freely show himself to the most searching eye, is a deed which deserves a place not only in the sphere of the mirabilia, but also in that of the miracula in the strictest sense of the word. Comp. 2 Kings 5:7. It is no wonder that the Saviour mentions this kind of miracle also with special emphasis to the disciples of John the Baptist as proofs of His Divine mission, Luke 7:22. Moreover, like all miracles, this kind of healing especially has a symbolical character. As even in the Old Testament leprosy was an image of sin, see Psalm 51:9; Isaiah 1:6, and elsewhere, so was purification from leprosy a type of the forgiveness of sins. This and the following miracle give us to behold the Saviour as the living image of Him who once said to Israel: I am Jehovah, thy physician, Exodus 15:26.

2. As the miracle itself is a symbol of the highest blessing of the New Covenant, the confirmation of the miracle takes place altogether in an Old Testament manner. The Saviour is not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them, Matthew 5:17. Moreover, the priests must by the testimony here required of them be hindered from denying afterwards that the man had actually been leprous.

3. The forgiveness of sins bestowed by the Saviour on the paralytic is an unequivocal proof of His celestial dignity. With entire justice, therefore, does Bengel say: cœlestem ortum hic sermo sapit. But it may justly be called incomprehensible that sometimes men have imagined themselves to have found in the bestowal of this benefit of the Saviour before His death an argument against the indispensable necessity and power of His atoning death. Was not then, considered from the Divine point of view, the sacrifice of perfect obedience, an eternal deed? And could He who was to bring it, not bestow the highest gift of grace on a sinner even before this deed was as yet in the fulness of time perfected?

4. The connection between natural and moral evil is undoubtedly placed by the Lord here, but by no means everywhere in a similar manner, in the foreground. Before the assertion was ventured that Jesus was in this respect as much in error as the Jews with their limited notions, it would have been better first to take more account of declarations such as Luke 13:5; John 9:8. Is the Saviour to be regarded as standing below the author of the book of Job, or below Moses, who undoubtedly represents misfortunes of the people as punishments of the people ( Deuteronomy 28), but by no means concludes from personal misfortune as to personal transgression? We must rather assume here an especially immediate connection existing between sin and sickness, which, it is true, was not known to the superficial view of the beholder, but doubtless well known to the Searcher of hearts. [The disease was certainly one which is one of the most frequent consequences of sinful profligacy.—C. C. S.] Besides, it might yet be a question, which stood the lower, the Jews who considered misfortune and punishment ordinarily as synonymous words, or so many nominal Christians who will never behold in their own fate a direct retribution of sinful action.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The cleansing of the leper, the image of the redemption of the sinner.—How the sinner stands with respect to the Lord and the Lord with respect to the sinner: 1. a. With an incurable malady, b. with awakened faith, c. with eager entreaty; 2, a. with a mighty arm, b. with a compassionate heart, c. with an earnest injunction.—Whither Jesus comes there He finds wretchedness; where Jesus finds wretchedness He is ready for healing.—Deep misery, great grace, imperfect thankfulness.—The prayer of faith; how sweetly it sounds; how much it desires; how richly it rewards.—The healing of the leper a revelation of the compassionate love, of the boundless might, of the adorable wisdom of the Saviour.—The redeemed of the Lord called: 1. To show himself, 2. to offer sacrifice, 3. to be silent when the Lord will not have him speak.—The injunction of silence which the Saviour here and elsewhere imposes on the healed: 1. Seemingly strange, 2. fully explicable, 3. most momentous: a. for our knowledge, b. for our faith, c. for our following the Lord.—Offer unto God thanksgiving and pay thy vows unto the Most High, Psalm 50:14.—Obedience is better than sacrifice, 1 Samuel 15:22.—Un-enjoined testifying of Christ: 1. Whence it comes, 2. whither it leads.—Solitary prayer the best refreshment, consolation, strengthening, as for the Saviour so also for all His people.—The healing of the paralytic a proof of the truth of Simeon’s prophecy, Luke 2:34 : Christ to the one a Rock of hope, to the other a Stone of stumbling.—The great impulse to hear the word of God why: 1. Then often so great, 2. now often so slight?—The Saviour’s miraculous cures the revelation of a heavenly might.—No better service of friendship than to bring the sick to Christ.—Access to Jesus never barred.—Jesus the Searcher of hearts: 1. Over against praying faith, 2. over against murmuring unbelief.—The greatest message of joy for the sinner.—The connection between sin and sickness.—The first accusation of blasphemy in the public life of the Saviour: 1. Its occasion, 2. its injustice, 3. its result.—Two things, both alike impossible with Prayer of Manasseh, both alike easy for the Son of Man.—The authority of the Son of Man upon earth: 1. An extended, 2. a beneficent, 3. a vehemently disputed, 4. a triumphantly vindicated authority.—The mournful coming to Jesus, the believing waiting on Jesus, the God-glorifying return from Jesus.—The result of this miracle, a confirmation of the old word of the sacred poet, Psalm 2:11; Psalm 12:1. Serve the Lord with fear, 2. rejoice with trembling, 3. kiss the Son—blessed are all they that trust in Him!—The benefit of the forgiveness of sins: 1. Missed with pain, 2. sought with earnest desire, 3. graciously bestowed, 4. unbelievingly denied, 5. convincingly sealed, 6. thankfully enjoyed.—Jesus: 1. The Searcher of hearts, 2. the Physician of the sick, 3. the Bestower of eternal life.

Starke (on the first miracle):—Temporal things we pray for with conditions, but spiritual things, for the most part, wholly without conditions.—Thus does it often fare with us that we doubt not, to be sure, of the might of God, but do doubt somewhat of His will, 2 Chronicles 20:6; 2 Chronicles 20:12.—It is to the almighty Saviour easy to help by a word.—Majus:—A faithful servant of Christ must seek neither honor or renown with his works.—Quesnel:—Sometimes, after Jesus’ example, we must prefer to the exercise of Christian love, solitude and prayer.—(On the second) Quesnel:—The faith, the prayer, and the love of pious people often help towards the conversion of the sinner.—It must needs come inwardly and outwardly to a thorough breaking through all hinderances to Jesus.—Majus:—The faith of another may well in some respects be serviceable to one, but to the forgiveness of sins he can give no help at all.—Brentius:—God gives us the most useful and best things always first.—A healthy soul in a healthy body a great benefit.—Hedinger:—Respecting Divine things and works partisan reason judges as the blind of color.—People of over-brisk wits must be met in love, and with speeches spiced with salt, Colossians 4:6.—Canstein:—The enemies of Christ must often against their purpose further the honor of Christ.

Heubner:—Jesus, the Pure, is infected by no impurity.—What would avail us an impotent even though benevolent Saviour?—The healing of the paralytic: 1. Christ begins it in the soul, 2. vindicates it against suspicious thoughts, 3. accomplishes it victoriously and gloriously on the body of the man.—Christ’s power to forgive sins: 1. The nature of this power ( Luke 5:20), 2. its certainty ( Luke 5:22-24), 3. its importance ( Luke 5:26).—Rieger:—Jesus, a Saviour after the heart of the men who have begun to be heartily disposed towards God.—Steinhofer:—Three states of the soul in reference to the forgiveness of sins: 1. When one seeks it, 2. when one believes it, 3. when one has it.—Ranke:—Happy he who seeks his help with Christ, for: 1. For His love there is no man too mean, 2. for His power there is no misery too great, 3. the condition of His help is for no one too hard.—Rautenberg:—Pray for One another: 1. How this is done, 2. what fruit this brings forth.—Otto:—The leper: 1. The sufferer’s lamentation; he entreats: a. believingly, b. patiently2. The Physician’s gracious promise; He utters: a. words of comfort and promise, b. words of might and command.—Fuchs:—The paralytic; theme: the blessing of sickness: it leads: 1. To knowledge of ourselves, 2. to the Physician of our souls, 3. to the exercise of Christian virtues, 4. to the praise of the Lord.—Brastberger:—Forgiveness of sins, the source of all comfort.—Ahlfeld:—1. The sick Prayer of Manasseh, 2. his friends, 3. the Physician.—Bachmann:—Christ’s power to forgive sins: 1. A most comforting, 2. a variously misapprehended, 3. an irresistibly attested, 4. a much to be glorified power.—Stier:—Concerning the comfort of the forgiveness of sins: 1. How much we all need it, 2. how Christ has it ready for us all, 3. how each one may receive for himself this comfort.—J. P. Hasebroek:—We have seen strange things to-day. A glance: 1. At the subject, 2. the means, 3. the fruit of true spiritual recovery, of which this miracle is a type.

Footnotes:

FN#4 - Luke 5:15.—Rec.: ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ. To be omitted, as by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, [Alford,] &c, not only on account of authorities of weight, but also of its uncertain position [om. B, Sin.].

FN#5 - Luke 5:20.—Rec.: αὐτῷ, apparently only a gloss [om. B, Sin.].

FN#6 - Ἀφέωνται. The old grammarians are not at one as to the explanation of this form. … The correctest view explains it as perf. pass. of the Doric form, related to the perf. act. ἀφέωκα. Winer.]


Verses 27-39

b. The Son Of Prayer of Manasseh, The Friend Of Bublicans ( Luke 5:27-39)

(Parallels: Matthew 9:9-17; Mark 2:13-22)

27 And after these things he went forth, and saw [noticed, ἐθεάσατο] a publican [tax-gatherer] named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him Follow me28, 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 [tax-gatherers] and of 30 others that sat down [were reclining at table] with them. But their[FN7] scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?[FN8] 31And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a32[the] physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinnersto repentance 33 And they said unto him, Why do [om, Why do[FN9]] the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber 35 fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the [om, the] days will come, when[FN10] 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,[FN11] 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 [skins]; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and thebottles [skins] shall [will] perish 38 But new wine must be put into new bottles [skins];and both are preserved.[FN12] 39No man also having drunk old wine straightway[FN13] desireth new; for he saith, The old is better [good[FN14]].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 5:27. Named Levi.—It is superfluous to give here a detailed proof of the identity of Levi and Matthew. Comp. Lange, Introduction to Matthew, § 2, and Herzog’s Real-Encykl. in voce. We also assume that our first Evangelist was originally called Levi, but that later, as Simon was named by the Lord, Peter, received from Him the new name of Matthew. If now this was sufficiently known by tradition to the Christians among whom the second and third Gospels first came in use, there was then no longer need that Mark and Luke should instruct them particularly any further in respect to the identity of the person distinguished by the two names. The new name God’s gift, is certainly doubly fitting in the mouth of the Lord, who in all of His disciples recognized those given by His heavenly Father and now remarked with joy Matthew’s willingness to follow Him.

Follow Me.—Nothing hinders us from believing that Matthew had already belonged, for a shorter or longer time, to the most attentive hearers of the Saviour. But now he is called to accompany Him continually as an apostle, and to leave all for His sake; comp. Luke 5:11. The feast which, however, he yet prepares before going, assumes thereby the character of a farewell meal, but serves also at the same time as a testimony of the prompt and thankful temper with which the former publican entered upon his new vocation.

Luke 5:29. A great feast in his own house.—Matthew says in general, ἀνακειμένου αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, without speaking expressly of the size of the company or of the honor bestowed on his dwelling. Even in that which he passes over, there reveals itself the humility of the newly-called apostle.

Luke 5:30. Their scribes and Pharisees.—Luke does not by any means say that these men were among the company at table, for they would then undoubtedly, according to their own opinion, have defiled themselves. We must, on the other hand, conceive the matter thus: that, where Jesus abode, access was forbidden to no one, and that this feast so far bore in some measure a public character. The desire of His enemies to observe the Saviour was doubtless stronger than their disinclination to enter the house of a publican, with whom, moreover, in daily life, they necessarily came from time to time in contact. Matthew, on the other hand, was so little disposed to forbid them that, on the contrary, he now with so much the greater joy admitted those as witnesses of the honor unexpectedly fallen to his lot, who once so deeply despised his station.

Murmured against His disciples.—It is noticeable that they had not ventured to address their fault-finding directly to the Saviour Himself. The defeat suffered by them shortly before at the healing of the paralytic had probably deterred them from coming too frequently in contact with Himself. Perhaps also they addressed the disciples in order to frighten back others from attaching themselves, like Matthew, to such a Lord, who makes no scruple of bringing them into such bad company.

Why do ye eat and drink?—According to Matthew and Mark, the question is asked more with their eye upon the Master, with whom the disciples meanwhile were also eating and drinking. See Bengel.: ἐσθίετε, plurale, sed Jesum prœcipue petebant, 5:83. The Saviour answers not merely to shame them and to maintain His own cause, but also especially in order to come to the help of His perplexed disciples, who are not yet in a condition suitably to defend themselves and Him.

Luke 5:31. They that are whole.—The sententious form of this utterance might half incline us to suppose that we have here before us a proverb from daily life. Certainly it afterwards became such. The sentence has an entirely ironical character, and the here designated “whole” are no others than the ninety-nine righteous who need no conversion, Luke 15:1.—There is also a holy mockery. See Proverbs 1:26; Psalm 2:4.—It is noticeable how the Saviour here speaks not only of a Physician, but of the Physician, and, therefore, very emphatically, though indirectly, proclaims Himself the Physician of souls. According to Matthew 9:13, He on this occasion cites also the prophetical proverb, Hosea 6:6.

Luke 5:32. To call … to repentance.—The words εἰς μετάνοιαν are, according to the best reading, only found in Luke. The absolute καλέσαι in Matthew and Mark has, however, no other sense. Repentance is for the just-named sick, the restoration of the health of the soul.

Luke 5:33. And they said unto Him, The disciples of John.—According to the more exact account of Matthew and Mark, the disciples of John themselves come, in union with the Pharisees, to the Saviour with this objection. Perhaps the Pharisees had incited the disciples of John in this matter to make common cause with them. The antithesis: Jesus at the Feast and John in Prison could not fail yet more to put them out of humor. They avow their surprise without reserve, and the answer received by them perchance embittered them not a little, and may very well have contributed to their giving their master a report through which his singular question and message to the Messiah was hastened, Luke 7:19. If we find them here united with the Pharisees, we must not forget that these latter on this occasion had not yet appeared as blood-thirsty enemies of the Saviour, but only as crafty liers in wait, perhaps under the guise of interest in the cause of the Saviour. In ascetic rigorism they had with the disciples of John several points of contact. Moreover, momentary coming together is not of itself any actual league of two hostile powers, as we see with the Pharisees and Sadducees towards the end of the public life of Jesus. The Pharisees must have been the more eager to join with the disciples of John, as it must have filled them with great joy if they could bring into public discussion a difference of principles between Jesus and the John who was so highly honored among the people, and, therefore, indirectly oppose the Saviour. Who knows whether this very feast in Levi’s house may not have taken place on one of their weekly fast-days? Luke 18:12.

Καὶ δεήσεις ποιοῦνται.—Luke alone mentions this element of their question, which circumstance, however, does not warrant us to count it unhistorical. (De Wette.) Fasting and praying are often united as signs of a strict religious life. See Matthew 17:21. John had instructed his disciples in the latter also, Luke 11:1. The fact that Jesus in His answer does not return to this point, may have occasioned Matthew and Mark to pass it over in silence.

Luke 5:34. Can ye make?—An evident allusion to the last testimony of John the Baptist ( John 3:29), given with a look at his murmuring disciples. He is the Bridegroom, the chief person of the Messianic feast: the time of His walk upon earth Isaiah, so long as it endures, a festival for His faithful disciples; yet this time hastens soon to an end.

Luke 5:35. But days will come.—The Lord intimates a time as coming in which a much greater sorrow impends over His disciples than even that which had now smitten the sorrowing disciples of John. He was not only to be separated from them in body, not only to go away, but to be taken away. Not ἀπελθῇ, said Hebrews, but ἀπαρθῇ, from ἀπαίρεσθαι, a word which, in the New Testament, is found only here, and is not unfittingly rendered by “tear away.” The Saviour certainly would not have used it, bad He foreseen nothing but a peaceful dying. Moreover, that He as yet speaks only figuratively and cursorily of His approaching decease, ought not to occasion us surprise, John 16:12.

Luke 5:36. No man putteth.—The special fitness of a parable taken from wine and clothing just here, while He sat at the feast, strikes the eye of itself. Comp, as to the sense, Lange, Matthew, p171. Both express the incompatibility of a life in the spirit of the Old and of the New Testament at once. The interpretation, however (Neander), that the Saviour here would teach the great truth that the old sinful nature cannot by outward service of God be really amended, but only through the new birth, Isaiah, indeed, very pregnant, but is in conflict with the connection and purpose of this discourse, especially, moreover in conflict with the words with which the Saviour, according to Luke, concludes His address. No, both parables illustrate the incompatibility of the Old and the New, of the life under the law and that under grace, with the distinction, however, that in the former the new (the cloth) is represented as something added with the intent of mending the old; while, on the other hand, in the second the new (the wine) is more the principal thing, and comes into prominence in its peculiar force and working.

Luke 5:39. No man also having drunk old wine—This last sentence belongs to the communications peculiar to Luke, and there Isaiah, therefore, no ground for the assumption that the Saviour uttered it on an entirely different occasion (Kuinoel). It is evidently the intention of the Lord to intimate here that the scandal taken by the Pharisees and the disciples of John is intelligible, nay, that in a certain sense it may even be excusable. Accustomed to their old ideas, as to old wine, they can feel as little at home in His principles as any one, who has drunk his old wine with appetite, can at once long for the new. Was it a wonder that they judged so awry concerning His disciples? At the same time there is implied an indirect justification of the Baptist in this respect, that the latter had not dissuaded his disciples from strictness in fasting and praying. If he had done this, standing as he did in other things entirely upon the legal position, he would only have set a piece of new cloth upon an old garment. He had done (the Saviour intimates) quite as well in leaving everything on the old footing as Jesus would have done ill if He had restrained the free spirit of His teaching and of His disciples within the narrow forms of Judaism.

The old is good.—So does it read literally: χρηστός, while a few Codd. (B, L.) have the comparative, χρηστότερος. It Isaiah, of course, understood that in the reading accepted by us also, it cannot be used absolutely, but of a relative and subjective goodness of the old wine as respects the taste of the drinker. The old remains good only so long as one is not accustomed to the new, which in and of itself is better.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The calling of Matthew does not only enlarge the circle of disciples with a new apostle, but permits us also to contemplate the image of the Divine Son of Man in a light in which Luke has not hitherto placed Him before our eyes, as the Friend of publicans and sinners. Such a point of view is wholly in the spirit of the third Gospel, which promulgates to us the Pauline doctrine of justification by free grace in the Saviour’s own words and deeds. But at the same time this whole narrative is a gospel in miniature; and exhibiting Jesus, as it does, sitting at table in the midst of publicans and sinners, it offers one of the most beautiful symbols of the whole purpose of His coming.

2. Scarcely does the gospel of grace begin to come in its most lovely form into manifestation, when the scandal taken by those who remain standing in a legal position comes also to view in its full strength. The kingdom of God no sooner comes to the spiritually poor, than the rich, who are left empty, are inflamed with intense anger. The Saviour suffers this displeasure to manifest itself, since the revelation of it prepares the surest way for its annihilation.

3. He who exhibits Himself here as the Physician of the sick, makes Himself known also as the heavenly Bridegroom. Here, too, is a point in which the Christology of the fourth Gospel concurs with that of the Synoptics. Comp. John 3:29 with Matthew 9:15; Matthew 22:2. Through this figurative speech beams a cheerfulness with which the deep melancholy of the words immediately following contrasts the more strikingly. The thought of death accompanies the Saviour even to the social meal; and in the as yet weak manifestations of the hatred of His enemies, He sees a presage of all that is afterwards to come to pass. The mysterious intimations of the fourth Gospe. ( John 2:19; John 4:37-38) being excepted, we find here the first, as yet covert intimations of the bloody death which Isaiah, before they expect, to sever Him from His disciples. It is noticeable how even in this prophecy of His death a regular climax from a less to a more definite, from a figurative to a literal, statement takes place. Yet we shall soon find occasion to come back more particularly to this.

4. The Saviour gives here an important instruction in reference to fasting. When the Romish Church derives from it the doctrine that He ordained fasts as an abiding usage after His death, this comes from the fact that she overlooks the full force of the promise, Matthew 28:20; for is not the Bridegroom taken away in body simply for this purpose, that He may come again in the spirit and remain forever? Without doubt, there is also a Christian fasting ( Acts 13:2; 1 Corinthians 7:5), and the Protestant polemics against Rome, which almost represent the matter as if the Saviour had forbidden fasting and as if this abstinence was in no case to be commended, are not free from gross one-sidedness. There is a liberty for fasting as well as a liberty from fasting, and here also, the apostolic rule, Romans 14:5, holds good. On the other hand, however, we do not venture from the Lord’s words to conclude definitely that the Christian, in days of spiritual darkness and spiritual conflict, when he feels the presence of the Saviour little or not at all (Olshausen, Neander), is called to fast. Jesus does not say that in the days when they are not with the bridegroom they are to fast, but “in the days when the bridegroom is not with them.” Those days, however, since His glorification, have never returned. How literally, moreover, this prophecy was fulfilled with the first disciples of the Saviour, appears in John 16:20.

5. The whole parable of the wine and the bottles throws a clear light upon the distinction between the Old and the New Covenant. It shows how clearly the Saviour was conscious of infusing into mankind a wholly new life, with which the old forms of worship of God were not capable of being lastingly united. So powerful was the new spirit, that it must needs destroy and remove entirely the obsolete form; so peculiar, that every mixture with heterogeneous elements could only injure at once the new and the old. Therefore He could with such assurance commit to time that concerning which He knew that it would certainly come to pass. He could composedly leave those who with good intentions held fast to the old to entertain awhile the opinion that their wine was better than any other. Afterwards they would of themselves come to juster views.

6. The concluding words of the parable in Luke are at the same time the expression of one of the ground-thoughts which the Saviour in the training of His first disciples kept continually in view. He did not take from them the old wine at once, before they were in a condition to relish the new. He began with giving milk, and not at once the strong meat, comp. 1 Corinthians 3:2. Thus does He stand before us, on the one hand, as infinitely more than Moses and ready to break the yoke of the law, on the other hand, as meeker than Moses and concerned not to quench the smoking wick. A wholesome doctrine does this whole passage contain, on the one hand, for those who would weaken the quickening power of the gospel by the imposition of legal fetters, and, on the other hand, for those who wish to lead the weak brother at once to the highest position of faith and freedom, without allowing the leaven time for gradual development. On the whole, we may perhaps say that Romans 14contains the best practical commentary on this word of the Lord. Never were the suaviter in modo and the fortiter in re more harmoniously united than here. Comp. the development of this doctrine in Lange’s Leben Jesu, p679.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The calling of Matthew the striking image of the vocation to a Christian life: 1. The grace glorified in Matthew, 2. the career appointed for Matthew, 3. the sacrifices required of Matthew, 4. the compensation provided for Matthew, 5. the blessing arising from Matthew, 6. the throne of honor ascended by Matthew ( Matthew 19:28).—The distinction between Levi and Matthew the image of the distinction between the Old and the new man. The old man in servitude, the new free, &c.—Follow me! 1. A command of resurrection for the spiritually dead; 2. a word of life for the newly awakened.—Only he who leaves all is on the way to win the highest.—The feast of farewell to the world the feast of communion with the Lord.—Whoever will follow Jesus must not do it sighingly.—Jesus sitting in the midst of publicans: 1. There is His place, 2. there shines His glory, 3. there resounds His voice of peace.—The Wherefore of the natural man in opposition to the words and deeds of the Lord: 1. Its partial right, 2. its actual wrong.—The distinction in principle between the ascetic disciple of John and the free disciple of Christ.—So many who are called Christ’s disciples and yet essentially are still nothing but John’s disciples.—Whoever becomes only a disciple of John, without passing over into the school of Christ, ends with subjection under the Pharisaical spirit.—Jesus the vindicator of His disciples who are wrongly attacked for His own sake.—The well need not a physician, but the sick: 1. A perpetual rule: a. the well are nothing for the physician, b. the physician cannot be anything for the well; 2. a powerfully arousing voice: a. to the well, that they may become sick in their own eyes, b. to the sick that they may become well.—For whom Christ: a. is not, for whom He b. is certainly come.—The distinction between fasting and prayer on the legal and on the evangelical position.—The fast which God chooses, Isaiah 58.—The alternation of the time of mourning and the time of feasting in the life of the disciples of the Lord1. Even the time of feasting is followed by the time of mourning; 2. the time of mourning is something transient; 3. the time of rejoicing is abiding.—The conflict between the old and the new in the spiritual sphere: 1. The ground, 2. the requirements, 3. the end of the conflict.—The kingdom of God like to a new strongly-working wine.—The endeavor in the spiritual sphere to unite the incompatible: 1. Often made, 2. never successful, 3. in the end ruinous.—The new spirit aroused by Christ is: 1. Mighty enough to break to pieces all old forms, and also2. actually destined thereto.—The demeanor of the disciple of Christ towards the old and the new: 1. No mechanical adherence to the old, 2. no premature urging of the new, but3. a gradual transition, by which the friend of the old is made receptive for the new.—The spirit of the Saviour equally far removed from absolute conservatism and from radical liberalism.—New wine must go into new bottles: 1. So was it in the time of the Saviour, 2. so was it again at the time of the Reformation, 3. so does it remain forever.

Starke:—God has in the calling of men His own time and way.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—The order of conversion: 1. Jesus beholds the sinner in grace, 2. He calls him by His word, 3. faith follows without delay, 4. and love shows itself active and busy.—The church of God here on earth is a lazaretto and hospital.—Bibl. Wirt.:—The old bottles and rags of papistical ordinances fit themselves in no way to the doctrine of the Holy Gospel, therefore no Christian’s heart should cleave to the same.—Quesnel:—We must not teach the souls of the unconverted everything good that we know, but feed them with the truth according as their necessities and the capacity of their spiritual appetite demands.—In religion also, every age needs its own food, 1 John 2:13-14.

Luther to Staupitz (on Luke 5:34-35):—“I let it content me, that I find in my Lord Jesus Christ a sweet Redeemer and a faithful High-priest; Him will I extol and praise so long as I live. But if any one will not sing to Him and thank Him with me, what matters that to me? If it likes him, let him howl by himself alone.”

Heubner:—Matthew won is himself in turn to win others. So should we!—Syncretism (as they were of old wont to call the mixture of entirely heterogeneous doctrines and institutes distinct in their spirit, after the law which existed in Crete of forgetting all domestic strife when war broke out) endures not long.—Lisco:—The foolishness of making half-work with Christianity.—Zimmermann:—How with the Christian the old must be wholly overcome by the new: 1. The old unbelief and error by the new faith; 2. the old death by the new life; 3. the old habit by the new hunger and thirst.—Arndt:—All that is old must become new, and then all that is within must be expressed without.—How Jesus out of a publican makes an apostle: 1. The history ( Luke 5:27), 2. the justification of this calling ( Luke 5:28-32).—The Saviour’s instructions concerning fasting.—F. W. Krummacher:—Wherefore came Christ?

Hamann:—Christianity does not aim at patching up all our understanding, will, and all our other powers and necessities even to the potsherds of our treasure, and the main matter does not rest upon any religious theories and hypotheses, else the promise to make all new ( 2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:5), were not then a baptism of Spirit and fire with new tongues.

Footnotes:

FN#7 - Luke 5:30.—Rec. om. αὐτῶν.

FN#8 - Luke 5:30.—The last words, καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν, are omitted by Tischendorf on the authority of D, but, as it still appears to us, without preponderating reasons.

FN#9 - Luke 5:33.—The interrogative form of the Rec.: Διατί, κ.τ.λ., seems borrowed from the parellel passage in Mark. According to the most correct reading in Luke we have not a direct question, but an affirmative objection [Cod. Sin. inserts Διατί.—C. C. S.].

FN#10 - Luke 5:35.—Rec.: καὶ ὅταν ἀπαρθῇ. The καὶ is found in A, B, D, R, omitted by C, F, L, M, Sin. Retained by Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, and Tregelles. Put in brackets by Lachmann. The difficulty of giving an exact sense to it, favors its originality. Meyer says: “It might be taken as explicative. But it is more congruous with the sorrowful tone of the discourse to take ἐλεύσονται, &c, by itself as an interrupted thought, and καὶ as and: But there will come (not be always absent) … (namely, when that will be found, which you now miss), and when the bridegroom shall be taken away, &c.”—C. C. S.]

FN#11 - Luke 5:36.—“The latter part of this verse is peculiar, and is to be thus understood: ‘if he does, he will both rend the new garment’ (by taking out of it the ἐπίβλημα), ‘and the piece from the new garment will not agree with the old.’ The common interpretation (which makes τὸ καινὸν the nom. to σχίζει, and understands τὸ παλαιον as its accus.) is inconsistent with the construction, in which τὸ καινόν is to be coupled with ἱμάτιον, not with ἐπίβλημα. In Matthew and Mark the mischief done is differently expressed. Our text is very significant, and represents to us the spoiling of both systems by an attempt to engraft the new upon the old: the new loses its completeness, the old, its consistency.” Alford.—C. C. S.]

FN#12 - Luke 5:38.—The clause in the Rec., καὶ ἀμφότεποι συντηροῦνται, is omitted by Tischendorf, principally on the authority of B, L.; apparently these words are borrowed from Matthew 9:17, and, therefore, justly declared by Griesbach to be at least doubtful. [Omitted by Sin, which, however, differs from B. in having βάλλουσιν instead of βλητέον.—C. C. S.]

FN#13 - Luke 5:39.—Whether the word εὐθέως actually stood in the original Greek text may well be doubted, but even regarded as interpretamentum, it is certainly entirely in the spirit of the Saviour’s words.

FN#14 - Luke 5:39.—Rec.: χρηστότερος with A, C, R, χρηστός, B, L, Sin. “The sentence seems to have been tampered with by some who wished to make it more obvious, and to bring out the comparison more strongly: εὐθέως being inserted, better to correspond with the fact, and the matter in question, and the comparative substituted for the positive; but the sentence loses much of its point and vigor by the change: the old wine is not better than the new (which has not been tasted), but merely ‘good,’ i.e, good enough, therefore no new is desired.” Alford.—C. C. S.]

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Luke 5:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/luke-5.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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