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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Luke 5

 

 

Verses 1-32

Luke 5:1-2. 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, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

Before folding them up, as if they intended to do no more with them just then, as they had been working all night in vain.

Luke 5:3. 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.

It is very difficult to speak effectively when the people come too close to the speaker; and, sometimes, a little inconvenience like that may interfere with the flow of the speaker’s thoughts and words. Even the Saviour seems to have felt that he needed a little breathing space between himself and his audience.

Luke 5:3. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

That was what some people would have called an unconsecrated place, but Christ’s presence consecrated it, as it does every place where he condescends to meet with us.

“Where’re we seek him, he is found,

And every place is hallowed ground.”

Luke 5:4. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

Whenever he borrows a pulpit, or anything else, he pays good interest for the loan. Christ will not be in even a boatman’s debt. For every cup of cold water given to his disciples in his name the Master will take care to pay.

Luke 5:5. 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.

Out of personal respect and obedience to Christ, having perhaps but a slender hope of any good coming of it, yet, nevertheless, he will let down the net.

Luke 5:6-7. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them.

For they had launched out so far into the sea so scarcely to be within hearing, so they beckoned to their partners in the other ship, and they rowed out to them.

Luke 5:7. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

We can have too much of a good thing, aye, too much even of the best things, for our poor frail vessel cannot hold all that God would be willing to put into it.

Luke 5:8. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

Not knowing what he said, though he knew what he meant; feeling as if he, so sinful, had come too close to the Lord who was so gracious, so he must not dare to keep near to him. Have you never felt the same as that? If not, methinks you have neither known your Lord, not yet yourselves for the knowledge of Christ, combined with the knowledge of ourselves, is sure to produce this holy shrinking, in which we have no need for anyone to say to us, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet,” for we are almost ready to put off our very body, for we can scarcely bear the glory of the presence of the Lord.

Luke 5:9-10. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 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.

He seemed to imply that he should catch them after the same rate, too; and so he did, for the first throw of the net brought in three thousand, and very soon the number caught was increased to five thousand. That was good fishing by those first Gospel fishermen; oh, that we could throw the net as they did!

Luke 5:11-12. And when they had brought the ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him, and it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy:

That is a characteristic touch of Luke, who, as a physician, with a glance of his eye, took in the condition of the man, not as merely a leper, but as one “full of leprosy.”

Luke 5:12-13. Who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and brought him, saying, Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, —

The perfectly pure One touched the leprous man without himself becoming contaminated. In any other house, the man who touched a leper would have been defiled; but, when Christ comes into contact with impurity, he is not defiled, but he removes it. This is what the gospel is meant to do to the world. We are to go and seek the good of the most fallen and abandoned of men and those who do so, ought to have so much of the spirit of Jesus Christ in them, and so much vitality in their piety, that they will not be tempted by the sin upon which they look, but, on the contrary, will overcome that sin, and impart spiritual health instead of receiving infection. May we be in such a state of health as Jesus was! Then shall we be able to touch the leper, and not be defiled. Jesus touched him, —

Luke 5:13. Saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. —

Ask him to touch thee also, poor leprous soul; thou who art full of sin, thou who art deeply conscious that the deadly disease of sin is upon thee incurably. Ask him but to touch thee, for the touch of his finger shall make thee clean in a moment. Christ’s cures are often instantaneous. He, who could speak a world into being with a word, can also speak a man into perfect spiritual sanity with a word.

Luke 5:14-15. 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. But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him:

Some fires burn the more fiercely for being damped, and such was the fame of Christ; it was not to be kept under. The more he bade men be quiet, “so much the more went there a fame abroad of him.”

Luke 5:15. And great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.

Two words that I long to see linked together in this house: “to hear, and to be healed by him.” You come to hear; can you not also come “to be healed by him of your infirmities”?

Luke 5:16. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

The tense of the verb implies that he often did this; it was his habit to withdraw himself for private prayer even in his busiest times, and when he could occupy every minute with great advantage to the people. Thus he gathered new strength from above for each day’s work; and when there was most to be done, then he took most time to pray. It is an evil economy that tries to take time for other things that should be spent in prayer, for the shortening of prayer will be the weakening of our power.

Luke 5:17. 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 Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

Not the Pharisees and doctors of the law; they do not often get healed by Christ, but “the power of the Lord was present to heal the multitude.” The only people for whom there seems to be no power to heal are these Pharisees and doctors, as will appear by the following narrative.

Luke 5:18. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy:

He had had a stroke of paralysis.

Luke 5:18-19. And they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.

And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, — By the external staircase, —

Luke 5:19. And let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

Probably into the courtyard of the house where Jesus was preaching.

Luke 5:20. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

Laying the axe at the root; not healing the paralysis at first, but forgiving the sin which depressed the man’s spirit, and so was, in a measure, the cause of the paralysis. By removing the sin, he raised the man’s spirits, and with his renewed spirits, there same back strength. Note that it was when he saw their faith that he said unto the man, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.”

Luke 5:21. And the scribes and the Pharisees

Here they are, these caviling gentlemen, these Pharisees and doctors of the law, —

Luke 5:21-23. Began to reason, saying, Who it this which speaketh blasphemies? ho can forgive sins, but God alone. But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?

He that could do the one could do the other. He who bids the paralyzed man walk is divine; he, therefore, can forgive sin.

Luke 5:24-26. 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 into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, we have seen strange things today.

May we often see such “strange things” spiritually!

Luke 5:27-32. 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. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. 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. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The murmuring of those Pharisees and doctors of the law had one good result, for it led the Saviour to declare the purpose of his mission to the earth: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”


Verses 12-17

Luke 5:12. 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.

There was not much faith there, but faith even as a grain of mustard seed will serve; and therefore Christ did not refuse the poor leper’s plea.

Luke 5:13-15. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. 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.

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. Oh, that sinners would come to Christ in this spirit now, — “to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities!” Some of you have come to hear, but have you come to Christ to be healed? Have you really come for that purpose? Alas! Some come even to God’s house only to see, or to be seen; how can such people expect to receive a blessing? Yet my Master is so gracious that, often, he is found of them that sought him not. So may it be with any careless ones who are with us now!

Luke 5:16-17. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed. 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 Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

These were the least hopeful patients that the great Physician ever had; for to heal these doctors of divinity, and to bring these proud learned Pharisees down to accept the gospel, needed an omnipotent display of divine power. Penitent sinners are readily brought to Christ; but, often, the self-righteous, who think they are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, are not to be persuaded to accept the fine gold which Christ presents to all who ask him for it. The Lord grant that, if any such people be here, the power of the Lord may be here to heal them!

This exposition consisted of readings from Luke 4:33-41; and Luke 5:12-17.


Verses 12-26

Luke 5:12. And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy:

As far gone with leprosy as he could be; thoroughly tainted, and eaten up with that loathsome disease.

Luke 5:12. Who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

He felt that the difficulty lay in the will of Christ, not in his power. No other teacher would have looked at such a man. Everybody shrank from him, for he scattered defilement wherever he moved. A leper was a being from whom all kept clear, so this one was afraid that the great Teacher was not willing to cure him. “If thou wilt,” said he, “thou canst,” ¾ ‘I know that thou canst make me clean.’

Luke 5:13. And he put forth his hand, and touched him,

This was a wonderful instance of condescending love on the part of the Lord Jesus; and touching the leper did not defile him. On the contrary, Christ removed the defilement from the leper: “He touched him,”

Luke 5:13. Saying, I will: be thou clean.

It was the will of Christ that wrought the miracle, that secret movement of the heart of Christ, that silent omnipotent going forth of divine energy that accomplished the leper’s cure.

Luke 5:13. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.

Christ can heal sin in the same way that he cured this leper. If he touches the worst man in this place, he can make sin to depart from him the moment he touches him. It does not require years in order to perfect the work of salvation, it can be done in a moment. Such is the wonderworking power of Christ: “immediately the leprosy departed from him.”

Luke 5:14. 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.

Our blessed Master did not court fame; he did not wish to make himself notorious, the crowds that flocked around him were inconvenient to him, so he did not wish to have them increased. There was danger in such crowding, and Jesus was wise in his generation, so he charged the healed leper to tell no man, but to show himself to the priest, and to present the offering enjoined under the law.

Luke 5:15. But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him:

Fame is like fire. If you heap anything on it to prevent it from spreading, it often acts as fuel to the flame; so, the very effort to hide the light of Christ’s power, made it spread all the more widely.

Luke 5:15. And great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.

I wish that all congregations would come together from the same motives, ¾to hear and to be healed by Christ. What is thy disease, my hearer? What ails thy soul? What is the mischief in thy spirit? What is the malady in thy heart? Jesus can heal thee. Oh, that thou wouldst at once seek to be healed by him!

Luke 5:16. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

Just when there were such grand opportunities of doing good, just when everybody sought him, does be get right away from them into the wilderness to pray? Yes, because he felt what we ought to feel but often do not, that he needed fresh power, that as the servant of God he must wait upon God for fresh power for his great life-work: “He withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” No doubt it was the constant habit of Christ to pray, but there were certain special times when he retired into lonely places, and his prayer was peculiarly fervent and prolonged.

Luke 5:17. 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 Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

The word “them” scarcely gives the right sense of the original; it should be, “the power of the Lord was present to heal.” Jesus did not heal the Pharisees and doctors of the law, but he healed many of the congregation. Now, how do you account for this power present to heal? Why, by that wilderness prayer: “He withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed,” and afterward, in a very high and remarkable manner, “the power of the Lord was present to heal.” And when the power to heal was present, the patient to be healed was very soon present, too.

Luke 5:18-19. 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.

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. There does appear to have been, according to Mark, some breaking up of the material that formed the roof of the house where Christ was. It was not altogether such an easy matter as some have imagined to let this poor palsied man down into the presence of Jesus; and if some of the dust from the roof fell down upon the Pharisees and doctors of the law who were sitting by, it would only be what they were accustomed to throw into other people’s eyes.

Luke 5:20. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

Christ has eyes with which he can see faith. You and I cannot see it; but he can: “When he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins be forgiven thee.” This was going to the very root of his disease. Jesus knew what the man really ailed; he was palsied in spirit as well as in body, and Christ removed the root of his disease by forgiving his sin.

Luke 5:21. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason,

The gentlemen I alluded to just now began to reason. It was just like them; instead of beginning to praise God, they “began to reason,”-

Luke 5:22. Saying, Who is this, which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, Why reason ye in your hearts?

See, Jesus can perceive thoughts. I have heard of “thought-reading.” Here is a true specimen of it: “Jesus perceived their thoughts, and said unto them, Why reason ye in your hearts?”

Luke 5:23. Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?

Anyone can say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” or, “Rise up and walk,” but to forgive sins, or to give the power to rise up and walk, equally needs a God. If God be present, and can make the palsied man arise and walk, he is also able to forgive his sins.

Luke 5:24-26. 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 into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear,

With awe, and reverence. They felt that God had come very near to them, and they perhaps said, like Jacob of old, when he was afraid, “flow dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” They were filled with fear,¾

Luke 5:26. Saying, We have seen strange things today.

Oh, that we might see such “strange things” in this house tonight, and whenever we meet to worship God!


Verses 12-32

Luke 5:12. And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy:

What a contrast there was between these two persons,— the Lord Jesus full of purity,— and this man full of impurity,— full of leprosy! He could not be more than full; he had as much leprosy as a man could contain.

Luke 5:12. Who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

This was splendid faith. Here was adoration of the noblest kind; no angel before the throne of God could render the Son of God more honour than this poor leprous man did. He believed in Christ’s power at once to rid him of that otherwise incurable disease: “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

Luke 5:13. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.

This is just what Christ can do also in the spiritual realm. If a man be full of sin, let him but fall down on his face before Jesus, and say, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean,” and the Lord will put out his hand, and touch him, and he will be clean in a moment. “Immediately “not needing the lapse of a single hour,—“immediately the leprosy departed from him.”

Luke 5:14. 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.

As long as the ceremonial law was in force, Christ very diligently obeyed it, and bade others do the same. That law is now abolished, and the Jewish priesthood has also ceased to be. But mark the modesty of our Saviour. As a man, he sought no fame or honour, but, as far as he could do so, he suppressed the voices that would have brought him notoriety; yet grateful tongues could not all be silenced, even at his bidding.

Luke 5:15. 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.

There was a double attraction about the Lord Jesus, —his sweet, instructive speech, and his gracious, healing hand. There is a somewhat similar attraction still in every true gospel ministry, not the attraction of the mere words of human eloquence, but in the truth which every faithful minister preaches, and in that matchless soul-healing power which goes with the Word wherever it is believingly heard.

Luke 5:16. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

That is just what you and I would probably not have done under such circumstances. We should have said, “We must seize this golden opportunity of publishing our message. There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to plenitude of blessing; and we must take advantage of it.” But our Saviour did not wish for fame, he cared nothing about excitement and popularity; so “he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” for more of that real power which touches the hearts of men so as to save them, caring nothing for that power which merely attracts a crowd, and excites momentary attention. O servant of God, when thou art succeeding best in thy service, imitate thy Lord, withdraw thyself and pray!

Luke 5:17. And it came to pass on a certain days, 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 Judaea, and Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

To heal the people? Yes, and to heal the doctors, too; and that was a far more difficult thing than to heal the ordinary folk. It must have been a time of great mercy and favor when Christ was ready to bless even the Pharisee and doctors of the law who were sitting by.

Luke 5:18. And, behold,—

For it was a great wonder,—

Luke 5:18. Men brought in a bed a man which was taken with palsy:

A paralyzed man.

Luke 5:18-19. And they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop,—

There was, no doubt, a staircase outside, as there usually is to Eastern houses: “They went upon the housetop,”

Luke 5:19-21. And let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

Most true, O Pharisees; and, therefore he is God, for he can forgive sins, and he has forgiven this poor sinner!

Luke 5:22-23. But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, Why reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, rise up and walk?

“Does not each of these require the same divine power? If I am able to bid him rise up and walk, I am also able, by the same divine authority, to forgive his sins.”

Luke 5:24-26. 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 into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear,

With a reverent awe,

Luke 5:26-27. Saying, We have seen strange things today. And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom:

This Levi, or Matthew, was a tax collector; not like those of our own day, but one who farmed the taxes for the Roman governor, and made what he could for himself out of them; at least, that is what many of the “publicans” did.

Luke 5:27-28. And he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him.

This was just a parallel case to that of curing the palsied man; it is precisely the same morally as the other was physically. The office of a publican was disreputable in the eyes of the Jews, and this Levi was probably making money fast at the cost of his own countrymen. He was paralyzed morally as the other man was physically; but as soon as Christ said to him, “Follow me,” “he left all, rose up, and followed him.”

Luke 5:29-30. 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. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?

It seems that there can never be a great wonder wrought by Christ without somebody or other objecting to it. I suppose that the sun never rose without annoying thieves, who would like a longer time to perpetrate their deeds of darkness; and no miracle of mercy is ever wrought without somebody finding fault with it for some reason or other. Be not dismayed, therefore, now that in these modern days there have arisen many cunning objectors to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let them object to it, as the dog barks at the moon; but still the moon shines on in her silver brightness. So, when all objectors shall have howled themselves to silence, the eternal gospel will shine on with never-failing splendor. These scribes and Pharisees murmured against Christ’s disciples, and said to them, “Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” Their Master did not leave there to defend themselves, but he took the case into his own hands.

Luke 5:31. And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole —

“Such as you scribes and Pharisees claim to be

Luke 5:31. Need not a physician; but they that are sick.

“You regard them as sick, and I regard them in the same way, and therefore am I found where these sick ones are. Why should I turn aside from them to insult you, who are so wonderfully healthy and think yourselves so good?”

Luke 5:32. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Luke 5:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/luke-5.html. 2011.

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