Luke chapter 5

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What does Luke chapter 5 mean?

Luke began his Gospel by comparing Jesus' and John the Baptist's early lives and recording Jesus' qualifications for ministry (Luke 1:1—4:13). He then started his account of Jesus' Galilean Ministry (Luke 4:14—9:50). This included a quick introduction of the way Jesus ministered—by expelling demons, healing, and teaching—and a preview of the negative responses He would face (Luke 4:14–44).

Although Luke has carefully placed his Gospel within the context of history (Luke 3:1–2), his record is not meant to be strictly chronological. His "orderly account" (Luke 1:3) is largely thematic. Though biblical scholars have labeled Luke 4:14—9:50 Jesus' "Galilean Ministry," not all of the events occur within the borders of Galilee. The title differentiates this period from Jesus' Travelogue to Jerusalem (Luke 9:50—19:27) and the events that occur in and near Jerusalem (Luke 19:28—24:53).

Having given examples of Jesus' authority over demons, disease, and the message of the kingdom of God, Luke records how Jesus carefully chooses His first disciples. Jesus already met Andrew and Peter on the banks of the Jordan River not far from Jericho (John 1:35–42). Jesus uses Peter's boat to teach. He then instructs him to go into deeper water and fish. The massive haul which results threatens to sink two boats. This obvious miracle causes Peter to repent, leave everything, and follow Jesus. Jesus promises that Peter—and his brother Andrew (Mark 1:16–18)—will now "fish" for men. James and John soon follow (Luke 5:1–11).

Luke next turns to two controversial miracles that begin to reveal who Jesus is. In the first, a man with severe leprosy meets Jesus in a city and asks to be healed. Jesus touches him, the leprosy disappears, and Jesus tells the man to show himself to the priests. Luke has already affirmed Jesus can heal (Luke 4:40). By touching and healing the man, Jesus makes him ceremonially clean: able to enter Jerusalem and worship at the temple, his sacrifices once again acceptable to God (Luke 5:12–16).

In the story of the paralytic, Jesus rewards faith with forgiveness. Four men (Mark 2:3) lower their paralyzed friend through a hole in the roof of a packed house to get Jesus' attention. Jesus sees their faith and forgives the man's sins. When Pharisees and scribes judge the act to be blasphemous, Jesus proves His authority by healing the man (Luke 5:17–26).

Luke continues his pattern of alternating stories and calls to discipleship with Levi, sometimes called Matthew (Matthew 9:9), the tax collector. These men were hated by fellow Israelites for cooperating with the occupying Roman government. Jesus sees Levi at the tax collecting booth and calls him to follow; Levi immediately responds. Levi's repentance echoes Peter's. Levi's invitation to other sinners to meet Jesus reflects Jesus' promise that Peter and the others would fish for people. The setting of the feast draws the attention of religious leaders and will later be the basis of Jesus' comparison of Himself to John the Baptist (Luke 5:27–32; 7:24–35).

Expanding on the analogies between food and spirituality, Luke compares Jesus' willingness to eat with sinners to the inappropriateness of fasting in His presence. During His incarnation—the physical presence of God the Son—it is more appropriate to eat in celebration with repentant sinners than to fast with legalistic religious leaders. The grace inherent in Jesus' message of cleanness, forgiveness, faith, and repentance cannot fit within their legalistic observance of the Mosaic law (Luke 5:33–39).

In the next chapter, Luke masterfully segues. He moves from eating in celebration of the presence of the King to feeding one's own body even if it means a bit of work during the Sabbath. The section on Jesus' countercultural teaching finishes with Jesus loving another by healing on the Sabbath. After Jesus gives His final call to the Twelve, He shows a crowd what everyday discipleship looks like and invites them to base their lives on Him—a call for us as well (Luke 6).
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