Luke: Chapter 5 - Follow Me

Bible Study @ Hurst Gospel Hall

Author: John Whitmarsh
Added: 2015-05-26

CHAPTER 5

 

FOLLOW ME

 

General

 

We are introduced to the idea of following in this chapter. Until this chapter the word has not appeared. The result of the first incident is that men followed Him. The instruction in the second is for the leper to go and show himself to the priest. The instruction in the third incident is to go home. The chapter finishes with an individual who left all and followed the Lord Jesus.

 

The first eleven verses were covered on two occasions the second being at a ministry meeting held on 310315. Notes are given here.

 

Verses 1-11 Fishers of fish(es) to fishers of men

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. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 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. 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. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.


There is discussion as to the validity of the word fishes. Most will say that it is not a word and that fish should be used for both singular and plural. Fishes is a word in the right context. If the water is full of the same type of fish then the plural is fish. If the water has many different kinds of fish then the plural is fishes. It is interesting to note that the feeding of the 5000 is recorded in all four gospels and in each one the word used is fishes despite there being but two of them.

 

Lake Gennesaret is the Sea of Galilee. The Lord Jesus spoke Gods word. Everyone pressed Him to hear Him. Are we like those people or are we lethargic? There is much around that purports to be the truth but He is the truth and we should be listening to Him.

 

Verse 2 Why were they washing their nets? They were cleaning and scrubbing them to remove debris. It was a tedious but a necessary task (in Matthew 4.21 there were those who were mending their nets And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.). There are different kinds of fishing practice in scripture for example the dragnet of Matthew 13.47, Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. This would have been a net attached to two boats and drag to catch fish (or fishes!!). Isaiah 19.8 speaks prophetically of a day that is to come upon the earth, The fishers also shall mourn, and all that cast angle into the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither. Angling is also mentioned in the NT in Matthew 17.27, Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up, and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for thee and me. This incident was miraculous for not fish will accept a hook once there s something already in its mouth it is contrary to nature. The Saviour specialised in doing things that were contrary to nature.

 

These men were going about their daily jobs, their normal routine. The Saviour was interested in them as He is likewise interested in us

 

Verse 3. The people listened from the shoreline. The ship was put out a little way into the lake. The Lord Jesus had asked Peter to let the boat out a little from the land. This was not the first encounter with Peter. In John 1 there are many verses describing the meeting with men who were later to become disciples of the Lord Jesus. There is a record of a meeting with Peter there in the region beyond the river Jordan close to Bethabara. On that occasion the Lord Jesus gave him a name other than the name Simon by which he was known and which means rock. The Aramaic name was Cephas and the Greek equivalent, Peter, is given to us there. This meeting in Luke 5 is a separate encounter and there is another recorded for us in Matthew 4 which took place at the Sea of Galilee.

 

Verse 4 Peter let his encounter with the Lord Jesus mull over in his mind. Whenever it is that meet with Him, that we come face to face with His claims, we need to understand all that we will gain and all that we will need to leave behind.

 

Verse 5 The Lord Jesus was no fisherman. Fishermen worked at night and this one had toiled all night for no reward. Nevertheless Peter was prepared to do whatever the Saviour asked of Him. What a lovely attitude and how great it would be to find such an attitude in each of us. He was prepared to do what the Lord said. This one was not just a good man, a good teacher. He was those but more than that He was the Lord. Maybe we can relate to this in life. When the Lord is with us then events go very differently. When we are invited to take a step of faith there are two ways that we can go. Had Peter rejected the invitation there may not have been another one. He invites us to see his wonders. He wont force us but He invites us. He invites us to leave the crowd and leave the shore and push out with Him.

 

Verses 6-7. The story is superb. We can almost see the scene as it is described to us and even smell the smell. There were fishes everywhere. The men must have scrambled around on the deck. There was the call to colleagues for help. Flapping fishes everywhere. What did the Lord Jesus do? Probably He just sat there and smiled.

 

Verse 8. The only reason that it says that Peter fell at the Saviours knees is because the boat was full of fishes. Peter recognised that the spectacular catch was miraculous. Peter realised who He (the Lord Jesus) was and who he (Peter) was. This hard worker and hard swearing man was completely incompatible with the presence of God.

 

Verse 9. Not only Peter but James and John were impacted by the events of that day.

 

Verse 10. Do not be afraid harks back to the phrase used in chapter 1. It is right that we have a healthy respect for God. Do we have that respect and realisation of who we are and of who we are not? God had great plans for Peter greater plans than Peter had for Peter. He was to be part of His life for three and a half years and then after the Lord Jesus had died and was raised again and rose up on high, Peter was to champion the Saviours cause eventually being martyred on a cross as far as we know from history. He went from being a son of thunder to being a martyred man. The Lord Jesus wants us to take a new direction in life but this can only happen when we leave everything. For Peter it was the largest catch of his life but he left it all behind. Are we prepared to walk away from a lucrative job or from hobbies (both things that are not wrong in themselves) to follow Him?

 

Ministry on the same passage 100415

 

The call of Peter, Andrew, James and John are recorded in Matthew, Mark, & Luke but Luke gives most detail and records the fishing incident. Peter was brought to the Lord by his brother Andrew in John 1. He was saved and became one of many followers of Lord but not spending all time with Him as seen here. The setting here is early in the morning at the sea of Galilee with 2 families of fishermen washing nets after a fruitless night of toil. The Lord Jesus arrived with crowd anxious to hear Him v1.

 

a) people pressed on Him - came to where they knew He was going to be present

 

b) came to hear Word of God

 

These are personal and assembly challenges. Do I reflect His presence? Is the assembly the place where people feel the Lord is present? As I witness do I give them the word of God? Is the assembly the place where people will hear the word of God? There were no special effects, no trying to compete with the worlds methods and attractions. We need to keep the gospel simple, true and clear. No changing, adding, subtraction, modernising - just Christ and Him crucified. Early church gossiped the gospel despite the persecution but it is also important in reverse. We must make sure that what is heard and read is the word of God and not mans ideas and the assembly is the place to go to follow the teaching of the word of God.

 

Consider Peters involvement in that mornings action. Like us he was an expert. In his case an expert fisherman. Us - housewife, mother, teacher, banker, engineer.

 

1. THE EXPERT

 

v 2 They had been out all night they were tired they were disappointed they had got nothing they just wanted to go to bed but despite all that they were preparing for the next nights fishing. They werent giving up. Like that for us maybe? Weve worked long and hard no results need to prepare for the next burst of activity. Need to keep praying witnessing delivering tracts.

 

2. GENEROUS EXPERT

 

v 3 Peter willingly allowed Lord to use boat as a pulpit. Do we allow the Lord to use what we have? car home skills - time money?

 

He sat down = authority; compare 4.20. When He speaks it is always with authority

 

 

3. RELUCTANTLY OBEDIENT EXPERT

 

v 4 A carpenter now gives an expert fisherman advice about fishing! We dont like that!!! How often we get upset if others tell us how to do things. One secret of spiritual life & service is to be guided by Lord even when think we know best and He goes against instinct or experience. That guidance may come from others. Note that the Lord guided him into the deep. Sometimes Lord guides us into deep out of our comfort zone.

 

Peters response could have been Lord I am tired I just want to go home I want to see the family not really convenient now.

 

Peter had good reason to question Lords instruction been out all night no fish there not best time of day. I am the expert fisherman so he could have said, I tried all night without results. What about me? Do I make excuses for not helping not at the Prayer Meeting not using possessions for Lord?

 

How did he say v 5? What was the intonation? Compare Proverbs 16.9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

 

We sense a reluctant obedience because he did not fully obey the command. Compare v 4 plural nets and v 5 singular. We need to be fully obedient, humble and teachable.

 

4. SURPRISED EXPERT

 

v 6 There is tremendous blessing from his obedience and problems!! Too many fish for the net. Obedience is not a guarantee for a problem free period of service. We need to be faithful God gives the increase so will help with the problems. If only they had obeyed fully. They lost some of the blessing - his net broke. He needed nets.

 

God always knows best He knows the end from the beginning. We, sadly, often only realise later. We need to keep fishing even when there seems be no fruit. Peter had been with the Lord for teaching now the Lord was with him for fishing. Teaching and obedience to the word of God comes before service. Compare Acts 2. 42a.

 

5. EXPERTS IN FELLOWSHIP

 

v 7 Peter was prepared to share the blessing with others even though the blessing came as a result of his efforts. Compare Barnabas at Antioch when asked Paul to come and help and share. Dont hog the work share the blessing and the load.

 

v7 When Peter asked for help others came - partners v 10 = fellowship

 

the partners could have said we are busy off home - you got into the trouble you get out. Or could have been jealous that the Lord used Peters boat. They all pulled their weight together and got the greater blessing. We need to be prepared to help when needed and accept it when it arrives. Am I supporting the assembly activities praying outreach - cleaning helping? Am I a partner in full fellowship with others ready to help even when blessing brings problems?

 

6. AN IM SORRY EXPERT

 

Peter could have been filled with own success its all of me with just a bit of help from Lord but he gave the Lord all the glory. As he saw the Lords glory he had an overwhelming sense of his own unworthiness v8

 

Isa 6.1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

V 3 the whole earth is full of his glory.

V 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

 

Peter was broken by the blessing. We too need to remember success is the Lords and not ours and to acknowledge it to God and others. How could a carpenter be such a good fisherman? He is not just carpenter but creator. Maybe there are two miracles here one trip in the boat; no fish the other trip in the boat; many fish.

 

As I appreciate who the Lord is and what He has done for me I should be overwhelmed by my own unworthiness. God still gives me a gift to work for Him.

 

In John 1 Peter met the Lord, was saved and became a disciple one of many.

In Luke 5 he met the Lord again and received the call to service v10.

In Luke 6.13, 14a he was chosen to be an apostle

In v10b did he fully understand the commission? Probably not but now there was a

 

7. WILLING, OBEDIENT BEGINNER

 

Peters relationship with the Lord Jesus had changed v 5 master and v 8 Lord

 

1st he gave his boat to help the Lord then he gave his ear to be taught by the Lord then he gave his body in obedience to fish now in v11 he gives everything to the Lord to follow Him. Forsook everything his business family friends past life. He followed the Lord now he is behind and it is the Lord who is leading him.

 

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

 

Verse 12-16 I will be thou clean

12 And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 13 And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. 14 And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.


The section under consideration today is but a few verses and yet to understand them a knowledge of many more verses from the Old Testament is necessary. People of the day would have known these scriptures without reference to them but for us we have to search the scriptures to find out treasures relating to the cleansing of the leper and the sacrifices that had to be made. Can we imaging the plight of the leper? Leprosy was a terrible skin disease. This man was full of leprosy that is he was covered from head to toe with leprosy. According to Old Testament law the leper was to have his clothes torn and his hair uncovered and dishevelled. He was to cover his moustache and to cry, unclean, unclean. Whilst the scripture was not read to us due to time constraints it is included here

 

Leviticus 13.45-46, And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

 

The leper could not go to the temple or to the synagogue. In effect he was separated from God. He was cut off from the whole of society. The Lord Jesus was prepared to touch the leper. Despite many forms of the disease being contagious the Saviour touched the leper being willing to do so and not with a fear of contracting the disease but in order to banish the disease and its destructive power. The leper knew of the Saviours power to make him clean. That was not in question as far as he was concerned. The only question in his mind was whether the Saviours power was available to him. The Saviours answer removed all doubt. He is still as willing today and He still has the power to deal with that of which Biblical leprosy speaks, namely sin. He is well able to remove its stain and undo its destructive power. He is willing the question is whether are willing to recognise the disease called sin and to ask Him to remove its uncleanness and deal with its destructive power.

 

The man was healed because the Saviour was not only able but willing to heal him. But the Lord Jesus told the man to show himself to the priest. What was to happen on the day of the lepers cleansing according to Old Testament law? For the answer to this question we need to turn to the next chapter in Leviticus where we find these words:

 

Leviticus 14, And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: he shall be brought unto the priest: and the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: and the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: as for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: and he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.

And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days. But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean. And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil. And the priest that maketh him clean shall present the man that is to be made clean, and those things, before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the priest shall take one he lamb, and offer him for a trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the Lord: and he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the holy place: for as the sin offering is the priest's, so is the trespass offering: it is most holy: and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot: and the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand: and the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord: and of the rest of the oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering: and the remnant of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed: and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord.

And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering: and the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

And if he be poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take one lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make an atonement for him, and one tenth deal of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, and a log of oil; and two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering.  And he shall bring them on the eighth day for his cleansing unto the priest, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, before the Lord. And the priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering, and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord: and he shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot: and the priest shall pour of the oil into the palm of his own left hand: and the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the Lord: and the priest shall put of the oil that is in his hand upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the place of the blood of the trespass offering: and the rest of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall put upon the head of him that is to be cleansed, to make an atonement for him before the Lord.

And he shall offer the one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can get; even such as he is able to get, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, with the meat offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed before the Lord.

This is the law of him in whom is the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to his cleansing.

 

Clearly all of this was to be performed yet was symbolic but of what was all this a picture? There are two major pictures in the text. In the first sacrifice on being presented to the priest the two birds were taken. The one was slain and the other could only be set free once it had been dipped in the blood of the dead bird. The live bird was free only because the other bird died. One bird was sacrificed in order that the other could be free to go. So it is with the sacrifice for sin made by the Lord Jesus at the cross. He had to die in order that others might go free. In effect the dead bird paid the price for the cleansing of the leper. The Lord Jesus paid the price for the cleansing of the soul from its sin. Now we can go free but only by appropriation of the death of the Lord Jesus on our behalf and that by faith.

Not only was there to be an offering on the first day that the cleansed leper showed himself to the priest but after a period of seven days during which there was cleansing including the removal of hair then on the eighth day there was to be further sacrifice. Why the eighth day? Eight is a symbol of resurrection and new life and the man that was cleansed was to have a new life. He was going to be free just like that bird from the day that he showed himself (or was brought as the OT text says) to the priest. Blood was put on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb on the right hand and the big toe on the right. Clearly this is a symbol but of what? This symbolised that what the man had heard, what he had done (his work) and where he had been were all cleansed.

But there was more. Oil was to be applied to the very same parts of his body. Why? What significance has this action? It was one thing to be cleansed but now he was entering into a new life. Now he had to be careful what he heard, what he did and where he went. That is equally true of everyone who trusts the Lord Jesus to be his or her Saviour. The past is cleansed but there is a life, a new life in Christ to be lived. Oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit and He is given to each child of God to help that person live a life that is to Gods praise and glory. We have just witnessed a baptism (Becky Morris was baptized on 021113). This, too, is a picture of burial and rising again to a new life in Christ.

 

Back to the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing; patently we have a picture of sins and their cleansing. A sacrifice was required and blood had to be shed. So, too, with the sacrifice that ended all sacrifices even that made by the Lord Jesus at Calvary; the Lord Jesus could never have provided salvation from sin and sins had He just lived the perfect life that He did and then ascended back to heaven. What are sins? Violence? Murder? Rape? All of these are sins and these result in separation from God in the same way that the leper was separated from the community. For some sin means immorality adultery; for others it is stealing; for yet others it is trying to be good; for others it is calling up the dead. All these sins can be cleansed. To know cleansing we each need to accept the sacrifice that was made on our behalf. There is a need for repentance, a change of life. We need to recognise that what we have heard, what we have done and even where we have been are wrong and that there is a need for care in these matters. Just as the leper needed cleansing so we need cleansing. There is no need in our day to go to a priest we just need to claim the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus made as our own. For those who are cleansed or should there be someone cleansed this day then such have a new life now and we need the gracious help and power of the Spirit of God to live the new life that God wants us to live.

 

Verses 17-26 Rise up and walk

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. 18 And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. 19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? 22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.


Have we ever engaged in people watching? I wonder what that person is doing here? We may be at a railway station, waiting to see the doctor or at an airport. We wonder dont we? The purpose of the meeting tonight is to speak about the Lord Jesus Christ. While we do so there are six separate people or groups of people that we need to consider:

 

1. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself for He is the key to all that takes place in the narrative.

2. The man who was sick. His sickness was such that he could not help himself. To get to the Saviour he needed to brought there. He was made whole and he had his sins forgiven. He needed no one but himself to repent of his sins such that he was in a position to be forgiven. This mans life was changed in two ways. No wonder the people said that they had seen strange things this day.

3. The four friends for the number of friends we need to consult other accounts of the same story which includes this detail

4. The religious leaders

5. The crowd

6. Us

 

The Lord Jesus was talking to the crowd and the Pharisees and doctors of the law were sitting by. The house was crowded and the only way to get to the Lord Jesus was through the roof so the tiles were displaced and the palsied man and his couch was let down through the roof. When the Lord Jesus saw the faith of this mans friends He said, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. This is a difficult verse to explain but two things took place that day. The first and most important thing was that the mans sins were forgiven and the second was that he was cured of his ailment. The Lord Jesus weaves the two together. It is an individual thing for a soul to have his or her sins forgiven. It is a transaction that takes place between that soul and its God. By the way, have you had your sins forgiven? God is willing to do so but we must repent. The Lord Jesus (as verse 32 tells us) had not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. The Pharisees were right when they said, Who can forgive sins, but God alone? They were, however, wrong about the one who had promised this man that his sins were forgiven. They did not and would not equate the Lord Jesus with God. The man who was healed in his body also had a change of heart. The four friends knew that it was worthwhile to take the trouble to bring their friend to the Lord Jesus for he was healed but they were doubly glad (or should have been if they were not) that he was healed of his souls sickness. Their faith had meant that the man was cured of palsy. His own faith meant that he was cured of sins disease. The Lord Jesus knew that the man had repented of his sin and was in a position to be forgiven. The message that the Lord Jesus had that day was not just for the man and his friends but for those doubters who surrounded Him. Which was easier to forgive sins or to say to the man to rise up and walk. They could do neither. He could do both. He had power that they did not have - power to heal and authority to forgive sins. Fail in the one and His claims of deity were not true. Succeed in both then the doubters had no right to doubt any longer.

The palsied man knew that his life had been changed. He had strength and was able to walk. He took up his bed and walked. He glorified God for the change and not he alone but all those who saw did the same. They had witnessed things beyond their expectation. They had seen a man who could not walk able to do so by an act of mighty power. The religious leaders rejected who the Lord Jesus was. They considered Him to be a blasphemer. Do we do the same? We accept Him as a good man, a man with power to do good and who did that good. We are Ok with the healing but not with the saving. We accept Him as a healer but not as Saviour. Is He our Saviour? Have we accepted Him as such? The crowds may have been amazed at what they saw and glorified God for the physical change in this mans life but how many believed as the man had done to be transformed spiritually? And what of the friends? It was their faith that was seen. We wonder whether, as a result of the happenings of that day, their faith was strengthened. What is our expectation of the Lord Jesus Christ? Perhaps it is that we have come to know Him then surely we are to get to know Him more each day as our faith grows and is strengthened.

There is a verse or two in the next section that says, 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 Saviour did not come for the self righteous but for sinners. You could speak to plenty about the Lord Jesus. Some would say that the purpose of His presence here was to show us how to live our lives and this would be true but it was not the only reason for His being here. Some would take this further and say that because they love way He lived that they want to live as He did. When such an approach is done in the power of the flesh, i.e. of oneself, then there is no recognition of need. The person is saying that he or she can work out their own salvation and the intervention of another is not necessary. The sick man in the narrative is a picture of someone in great need. His physical condition is a picture of a moral, spiritual condition. We cannot attain Gods standard on our own. We all have the same difficulty. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags and they are just fit for burning. We cannot earn salvation. We can only earn separation. Romans 6.23 says, The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are shortly coming to the season of gifts. Each month a person in work expects to see his or her wages. That person has earned that money. We cannot, however, earn our salvation. How many stumble at this. The eternal life that God offers is a gift, a free gift and it is to be received. It cost Him tremendously in the death of His dear Son but to us it is offered as a gift. The Lord Jesus is key to all that happened in that house that day. There were believed who believed and accepted that he had power to heal and authority to forgive sins. Acts 16.31 say, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. It was no good the man lying on his bed and not believing. He had to believe to be carried there. He was not dragged there against his will. He believed that he could be healed (and so did his friends) and he believed that he could be forgiven. The Pharisees and doctors of the law thought that they knew everything. They rejected Him. There are many who do just that today. They may not openly reject Him but they do not accept Him. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 16.25. The Lord Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me. John 14.6. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3.36. Dont remain on a pathway that leads to judgment. There is forgiveness of sins with God and all made possible because the Lord Jesus paid the price in blood at the cross out of love for us. Just as He showed His great love that day as far as this man was concerned so, too, in relation to our souls deep need He shows His love today. Friend, do not walk away from love.

 

Verses 27-39 Follow me

27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. 28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. 30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? 31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 33 And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. 36 And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. 37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. 39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.


The section under consideration this time may be broken down into three smaller sections:

v27-32 Debate surrounding the calling of Levi (Matthews gospel account calls the same person Matthew)

v33-35 A question about fasting

v36-39 New onto old

 

The call of Levi (Matthew)

When we read the word therefore we have to ask what it is there for. Our section begins with after these things and we do well to ask what things. In verse 24 we have been told that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins. This is the background to the section before us. The Lord Jesus went forth but from where and to where we are not told. We take it that he was still in Galilee. The parallel passage in Matthew (9.9-17) starts with the Lord Jesus passing forth from thence where the place that He had been was His own city (Matthew 9.1 - Capernaum). Mark 2 informs us that the incident with the man let down through the roof took place in Capernaum. Mark 2 also tells us that He went by the sea side and we have no reason to think other than this being the Sea of Galilee.

The Lord Jesus saw Matthew as he worked, as he was going about his business. The Bible describes him as a publican but this does not mean someone who ran a public house but someone who was a public official a tax gatherer. In chapter 19 of this same book there is another tax collector but the Lord Jesus saw Him up a tree. He knew that tax collector by name and he no doubt knew this one by his name. The tax collector was collecting taxes for Herod Antipas (who, by the way, was tetrarch of Galilee see chapter 3.2) and was no doubt collecting for himself as well. Tax collectors were seen as those who had defected to the other side. They were seen as collaborators, extortioners and robbers. Matthew was called while he was at work. The call was not complex follow me. When we are called to follow the Lord Jesus we must not view this as a complex command. Matthew left all, rose up, and followed Him. This is not the first time that we have read this phrase in this same chapter (see verse 11). A dedicated follower is someone who has to leave his or her old life. We can imagine the table with the money left on it as he went to follow the Lord of time.

The important thing about the call is that there was no going back. Peter might have been able to return to his fishing as he did in John 21 but Matthew couldnt go back to the receipt of custom. This was a life changing decision. There was no going back. Matthew was to follow the Lord Jesus for time and into eternity. Did he have anything that put him in credit with the Lord? No. And neither do we. We may be thinking that we are not good enough for God. Whatever our life has been to this point then each of us is allowed to follow and He calls us to be His disciples, His followers. Matthew was between a rock and a hard place if he did not follow the Lord Jesus. He was a marked man.

Then there was a feast. Matthew wanted everyone to know about the Lord Jesus. The purpose of these meetings is to introduce you to the lord Jesus. It says of the feast that it was a great feast and that it was in his house. He must have been a man of means. By the way Luke is keen to mention about meals theres one here in chapter 5, and then others in chapters 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 19, 22 and two in chapter 24 (ten in all). At the feast the Pharisees murmured against the Saviours disciples. This is the first mention of them as a group in this gospel account but how many were in the group is not told us here. Luke has only recorded the calling of the two men and this latest recruit has only just left his tax table!! Their question that was directed at, we suggest, new disciples was to do with publicans and sinners. These two groups of people go hand in hand in scripture. It is as if the people thought that publicans were down there with the worst in society. All alike were sinners. All alike are sinners. These new disciples did not know how to answer the question and the Lord Jesus stepped in, 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 Pharisees thought that they were righteous. In fact the Lord Jesus told a parable one day unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous. It was about a Pharisee and a publican (a tax collector) going to the temple to pray and it can be founding chapter 18 of this same book. The Lord Jesus was prepared to associate with sinners and even the worst kind of sinner in the pharisaical way of thinking that being a publican. How remarkable that the Lord Jesus should call a publican to be a disciple. How remarkable that later on He calls one down from the tree to bring about a change of life for Zacchaeus. The Pharisees did not want to associate with publicans as being representative of sinners in general. No wonder Pharisees found it difficult to follow the Lord Jesus. Here were sinners repenting (Luke mentions repentance 13 times) and they felt no need for repentance.

 

A question about fasting

John the Baptists disciples fasted often and so did the Pharisees. Why didnt the Lord Jesus disciples fast? At a wedding there is a feast and not a fast. The time was right for the children of the bridegroom (a strange phrase that probably needs some explanation; surely we would talk in terms of a father and his children) to acknowledge the presence of the bridegroom (the Lord Jesus). It was not a time for fasting. It was a time of rejoicing for the nation of Israel for their Messiah had come. Few recognised that fact but these disciples lived in the joy of having just started to follow the Messiah. There was going to come a day, though, when the bridegroom was going to be taken out of their midst and such a day was for fasting. While the Lord Jesus was with them it was any other than a day of fasting. Fasting as a ritual was pointless. Fasting must be done for a reason.

 

New onto old

No sooner had He spoken about the bridegroom than He spoke about the new onto the old. The old thing was coming to an end. Gods testimony in the world was not going to be through a nation but through the church comprised of both Jew and Gentile. The Lord Jesus had to come to patch up the old but establish something brand new. Fasting, displays on the corners of the streets, etc. were to be done away with. Judaism was not for patching up. It was going to replaced with something far better. Christianity was not an add on to Judaism. New wine, the power of the Spirit, could not be put into the wineskins that were legal ordinances. The Pharisees were not happy at such news for they were more than content with the old and did not want the new. Psalm 34.8 says, O taste and see that the Lord is good. Have we done that?