Bible Study: Luke, Chapter Five
Transcript: Today we are going to continue our interactive Bible study and we are going to cover Luke Chapter 5. I would encourage you to follow along in your own Bible, highlight and make notes in the margins. Don’t be afraid to underline things in your Bible. It is a study book, not a sacred artifact. So make it yours.
After the meeting today, or sometime this week, please take the matching Quiz on Luke Chapter 5 that I have prepared on the website. It is on the right hand side and matches this teaching. Thanks to all that have taken last weeks quiz. Last week we had around 30 participants, and 10 people scored a perfect 100. Let’s get started:
Luke Chapter 5 beginning in verse 1 WEB: Now while the multitude pressed on him and heard the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats standing by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
Now as we covered in Luke chapter 4, Jesus had moved His home base from Nazareth to Capernaum and now lived near the sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee, also known as Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias are all the same fresh water lake, called by different names. It is a body of fresh water about 33 miles in circumference, 13 miles long and 7 to 8 miles wide. It is the lowest fresh water lake on earth at 686 feet below sea level, is about 150 feet deep, and surrounded by hills.
Capernaum was a fishing village on the north shore of the sea of Galilee with a population of about 1500 people. The name means “Nahum’s Village”. No one knows who Nahum was anymore, but it was not named after the prophet in the Old Testament. Capernaum is mentioned only in the four gospels and is said to be the hometown of Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, and the tax collector Matthew. So five of Jesus’ Apostles came from there.
The fishermen had left the boats and were washing and mending their nets. They used what I grew up calling a cast net. It is a bell shaped net with lead weights around the edges and rope. You spin it above your head and cast it out into the water, the lead weights sink down around the fish, and then as you pull it in, it forms a bag, hopefully with fish in it. The nets had to be kept in good shape, so the fishermen were washing the weeds from them and mending them to be ready for their next fishing trip.
3 He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
The lake was surrounded by hills, so Jesus could stand on the shore and teach, and the crowds could sit on the hill sides and listen to Him. But this time, there was such a large crowd, with such a hunger to hear Jesus teach the word of God, they were pressing around Him to get closer.
With the crowds pressing in, Jesus would have been pushed right into the lake. So He got it Simon Peter’s fishing boat and asked him to push off from shore, and He continued to teach them from there.
The Galilean fishing boats at that time were about 26 feet long, and they had a sail and oars to move them about. That is about the size of a modern UPS truck. Peter was apparently doing OK at the time, as a married man who owned a fishing boat and a house.
Matthew chapter 4:18 tells us that Jesus met two brothers on the shore of the Sea of Galilee: Simon called Peter, and Andrew, his brother. It is believed that Andrew lived with Peter in Capernaum. James and John were brothers as well, and they were partners with Peter and Andrew (v10).
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered him, “Master, we worked all night, and took nothing; but at your word I will let down the net.”
Jesus wants to reward Peter for letting Him use his boat as a pulpit, so He tells Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets, that they had just washed. To me, this shows some humility on Peter’s part. Here he was as a professional fisherman that had worked all night and caught nothing, and a carpenter was now telling him how to do his job.
Peter and his companions were seasoned fishermen. They knew the lake and all the best places to catch fish, so it was illogical for them to listen when a carpenter told them to go out deeper. Experience had taught them the places where the fish gathered, and those places had been explored “all last night” (5:5). This situation called for real faith in Jesus that would have been contrary to their own thoughts.
The word used for “Master” here (epistata) is unique to Luke and means “Commander, Leader, or Boss.” Peter listened and said, “Boss, at Your word, I will let down the net.” That is the way you do it: “Lord, this makes no sense, but at Your word, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 They beckoned to their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. They came, and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.
When they listened to Jesus instead of their own minds, they caught so many fish that their net began to break. In others, maximum return, all that they could hold. They filled both boats with fish until they began to sink. That was a flat-out miracle. Jesus blessed the work of their hands. They were fishermen, so He blessed them with a plentiful haul of fish. See, Jesus will be in no man’s debt. If you lend Him your boat, he will return it filled with fish. Giving to Him is the surest investment that you will ever make. Though the blessing in your life might look different.
This miracle combined material means with supernatural information. I have worked with computers for the last 20 years. Several times the Lord has blessed us with thousands of dollars worth of high-end computer equipment, things that we could not afford. To me, it was a great catch, natural things came to us supernaturally.
To a farmer, it may have been a good crop. Genesis 26:12 tells us that Isaac planted during a time of famine, and that he reaped 100 fold. This was a natural thing, supernaturally provided. This is often how God works in blessing us. I call it “Super Natural.”
8 But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.” 9 For he was amazed, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had caught; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people alive.”
All the fishermen were amazed. Peter knew what a huge miracle this was, and he bowed down to Jesus and basically said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me - I’m too much of a sinner for You to be around.” Peter knew who he was, and now that he knew who Jesus was, he felt unworthy. Yet Jesus knew who Peter was, and was ok with it. Jesus told Peter, from now on you will catch men. We may feel unworthy, but Jesus sees us differently, and He leaves no one out of His plan. What we were, does not matter. What we can be, is what He sees.
11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed him.
Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John left their boats, the fish, and their careers behind and followed Jesus. They started out as relatively untrained and uneducated men, but Jesus taught them. Their education and training came from an apprenticeship instead of a classroom. God will often raise His people up in the field like David.
12 While he was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face, and begged him, saying, “Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.”
In ancient times, and still in some parts of the world, leprosy was and is a terrible, destructive disease. In Palestine there were two kinds of leprosy. There was a less serious version, which was like a very bad skin disease. The other type starts from a small spot, and eats away the flesh until the person is left with only the stump of a hand or a leg. It was a living death. This man was “full of leprosy.”
According to Jewish law and customs of the time, you had to keep six feet away from a leper. If a person was downwind from a leper, they had to keep 150 feet away. The only thing more defiling than touching a leper was touching a dead body. The Jewish Rabbis especially despised them, and saw lepers as those under the special judgment of God, deserving no pity or mercy.
“If You want to You can make me clean” is a classic example of the fact that people more often doubt the love of God, than they do His power. They believe that He can, but “would He do it for me?”
13 He stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him.
“I want to.” I love that so much. The sick, the lame, the lepers, the tax collectors, He touched them all and He healed them - because He wanted to. Leprosy is a disfiguring disease and also was associated with shame and horror. It still is, in some parts of the world. It carried, in some mysterious way, a sense of guilt. Lepers feel shunned and despised. They often consider committing suicide, and some of them do. Jesus could have healed the man with a word, but He reached out and touched him, and the leprosy left him immediately. Jesus touched the untouchables and He made them feel human again.
14 He commanded him to tell no one, “But go your way, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing according to what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.”
Jesus did not want the fame of healing the man or to attract more attention. He just wanted the man healed. He told the man to show himself to the priest and to follow his instructions because this would be the way that the man would be welcomed back into society.
15 But the report concerning him spread much more, and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16 But he withdrew himself into the desert, and prayed.
Though Jesus told the leper to tell no one, Mark 1:44 tells us that the leper began to tell everyone. Word began to spread about the miracle. So much so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city.
The Messiah’s ministry as a healer was prophesied in Isaiah 35:5–6: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.
When Jesus’ life got busy, and more and more people came, He withdrew to have some quiet time to pray. Isn’t that about the opposite of the way that we normally behave? Usually when we get too busy, we don’t have time to pray - yet Jesus made prayer the priority and everything else would just have to wait.
17 On one of those days, he was teaching; and there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every village of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. The power of the Lord was with him to heal them.
As Jesus taught, religious leaders began to take notice. He was causing quite a stir. The word “Pharisee” means “separated one” and they separated themselves from anything they considered unholy, and thought that everyone was separated from God, except them. They came to hear Jesus teach, sometimes from great distances.
The Power of the Lord was with Him to heal them: Even in the ministry of Jesus, there were times when God’s power manifested more greatly than others. Sometimes, Jesus did not do many miracles because of their unbelief like in Matthew 13:58. Also we should note, that the power of the Lord was present to heal after Jesus withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.
18 Behold, men brought a paralyzed man on a cot, and they sought to bring him in to lay before Jesus. 19 Not finding a way to bring him in because of the multitude, they went up to the housetop, and let him down through the tiles with his cot into the middle before Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, he said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
There was a man who was paralyzed and laying on a cot. The houses of the time usually had a staircase leading up to the roof. The room where Jesus was teaching was so crowded that you could not get close to Jesus. So the paralyzed man’s friends went up on the roof, and according to Mark 2:4, they removed the roofing materials, and let their friend down directly in front of Jesus using ropes.
Jesus “saw their faith.” Jesus could see the faith of the men that were lowering their friend down by the ropes. It was not talk, but action. They believed that Jesus would heal their friend if they could just get to Him. The friends’ faith in Jesus caused the paralyzed man to be healed. Our faith can affect others.
21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”
Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, and the Pharisees said, “That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” This is the only time that Luke uses the word “blasphemy” in all of his writing. Jesus was becoming very popular, He had signs following, and the Pharisees were becoming increasingly jealous and hostile. This was His first charge of blasphemy, but it grew to be the reason that they gave for crucifying Jesus in Mark 14:64.
22 But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, answered them, “Why are you reasoning so in your hearts? 23 Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you;’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk?’ 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (he said to the paralyzed man), “I tell you, arise, take up your cot, and go to your house.” 25 Immediately he rose up before them, and took up that which he was laying on, and departed to his house, glorifying God. 26 Amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God. They were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
“The Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title and He used it regularly. It comes from Daniel 7:13-14: I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
Jesus was the Son of Man that Daniel saw coming, and He had the power and authority to heal, and to forgive sins. He could have referred to Himself as “King” or “Christ” or “Messiah” but those titles, to the Jews, would have sounded a lot like “The One Who Will Defeat the Romans.” The “Son of Man” was not easily attackable, for He was the Son of a man. At the end of their conversation, Jesus just spoke the words and the paralyzed man was completely healed, picked up the cot that he had been laying on, and headed home.
27 After these things he went out, and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and said to him, “Follow me!” 28 He left everything, and rose up and followed him. 29 Levi made a great feast for him in his house. There was a great crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining with them.
Matthew 9:9 tells us that Levi, was also called Matthew. He became one of Jesus’ Apostles and he wrote the gospel of Matthew. Tax collectors were a despised group of people. The Jewish people rightly considered them traitors because they worked for the Roman government, and had the force of Roman soldiers behind them to make the people pay taxes. They were considered extortioners because they could keep whatever they over-collected.
A tax collector bid against others for the tax-collecting contract for a province, and the Romans awarded the contract to the highest bidder. The man collected taxes, paid the Romans what he promised, and kept the remainder. Therefore, there was great motivation for tax collectors to overcharge and cheat any way they could because it was pure profit for them. Levi was a chief tax collector.
Choosing to leave his position would have been a great material sacrifice for Matthew. It says that he left everything, and he would have been the wealthiest of the Apostles. Also there is evidence that the fish taken from the sea of Galilee were taxed, so Jesus recruited the same tax collector who had taxed Peter, James and John for the fish they caught.
Levi threw a banquet at his house and invited all of his friends. He was happy to be a disciple of Jesus, and to tell everyone about Him. It tells us that there was a “great crowd” of tax collectors, and Jesus ate with them.
30 Their scribes and the Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”
The “Separated ones”, Pharisees, began to complain to the disciples of Jesus because He ate and drank with the tax collectors and sinners. The religious elite only hung out with each other, and they would have viewed Jesus a lot differently if He had been “one of them.” Here we have Jesus inside of a building dining with a great crowd of sinners, and the highly religious people standing outside scowling at Him, and them.
31 Jesus answered them, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus gave them a very simple but profound answer: “Those who are healthy have no need of a physician.” Without a real sense of need, no help can be given to “those who think they are righteous.” If your glass is already full, God cannot add more to it.
33 They said to him, “Why do John’s disciples often fast and pray, likewise also the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink?” 34 He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them. Then they will fast in those days.”
A wedding feast in Jewish culture was a week-long celebration of joy. It was not a time for mourning or fasting. Jesus used this image as a setting for His answer: “No, you can’t make the wedding guests fast.” The pharisees were accusing Jesus of being too happy because He did not “suffer” as they did.
Jesus said the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and in those days, His disciples would fast. Jesus was the Bridegroom, He was speaking of His crucifixion, and “in those days” is now. I believe that fasting should be a part of your Christian life today, but it does not have to be something mournful. Basically you just trade the time that you would spend doing something, into spending time with Him. Whatever it is that you fast from, replace it with some time in prayer. The Bible records that Moses, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, the Jews in Esther’s day, Jesus, Paul, and the Christian prophets and teachers at Antioch, all fasted at times. It is covered in both the Old and the New Testament.
By Luke’s account, this dispute about fasting arose at Levi’s banquet. The religious leaders objected that Jesus’ disciples were feasting instead of fasting in verse 33), and they tried to compare Jesus’ ministry with John’s. John the Baptizer was most likely subject to a Nazirite vow, which involved abstinence from alcohol and other things (Luke 1:15; Num 6:1–4).
John had grown up in the wilderness and developed a diet that consisted of locusts and wild honey (Matt 3:4; Mark 1:6). In contrast, Jesus attended banquets. Luke mentions ten of them, seven which are only found in Luke. (7:36–50; 10:38–42; 11:37–54; 14:1–24; 19:1–10; 24:29–35, 41–43). The disciples of Jesus enjoyed a freedom that was not found in circles associated with John the Baptist, or with the Pharisees.
While Jesus fasted forty days in private and recognized the spiritual value of fasting, He strongly opposed fasting as a legalistic practice, or as a show for others. There was a proper time for feasting, and another for fasting. This was the time for celebration, when the bridegroom (Jesus) was with them and the Kingdom of God was bringing joy to those who welcomed it. After Jesus was taken away from them, there would be plenty of time for fasting.
36 He also told a parable to them. “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old garment, or else he will tear the new, and also the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 No one puts new wine into old wine skins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wine skins, and both are preserved. 39 No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ”
The cloth: If you put un-shrunk (new) cloth on an old garment, the new cloth will shrink and tear an even bigger hole.
The wineskin: At the time they sewed animal skins together to form a bag and filled them with wine. As the wineskins grew old, they became brittle. New wine is volatile and will bubble and expand as it ferments. If you put the new wine into an old wineskin, it will burst it.
The meaning: “Give me that old time religion” is what the Pharisees clung to. The traditions that had been handed down through the years were more important than anything that God was doing. Jesus was saying that He was bringing something new, and that not everyone was going to be able to accept it. He brought the New Covenant and was the subject of the New Testament, being saved by grace, and forgiveness for all that ask for it. It was a radical change of thinking that many would not be able to accept.
For us: Today, we cannot look back on what used to be, for God put us here for such a time as this. Our “golden days” are still ahead of us. We cannot try and hang onto the way things used to be in the church. Technology is making the world smaller. We have church here in South Carolina, and people all around the world attend. The first offering that RHM ever received was from a lady living in Kenya. We began as an international ministry. At RHM, we cannot try to imitate what the church has done in the past. We do not have pews to sit in. Jesus has something new in store for us, and we are only at the beginning.