The Gospel of Luke - Part 16: Jesus' Healing Touch
Luke 5:1-16
--Terry Heames

(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for Connection Class Leaders at Hoffmantown church.)

Review:

When people met Jesus they had to come to grips with who He really was. Most people came with their own bias, their own opinions about Jesus. Remember the struggle His own townspeople had in Luke 4 - "Isn't this Joseph's son?," they asked" (v.22). No! Even this simple, obvious statement was wrong.

The only real Jesus is One who is larger than life, who escapes our categories, who eludes our attempts to reduce Him to manageable proportions so that we can claim Him for our cause. Any Jesus who has been made to fit our formula ceases to be appealing precisely because He is no longer wondrous, mysterious, surprising. Categorize Jesus and he isn't Jesus anymore.
               -- from Andrew Greeley's introduction to Lloyd C. Douglas's The Robe
Jesus wasn't Joseph's son, He was and is God's Son. Jesus continually acted in ways that surprised people because they didn't understand who He was or what purposes directed His life.

Today: Beginning Chapter 5:

As you read through this chapter, consider what we can learn about the Lord and about ourselves from these "close encounters" people had with Jesus.
A.He Is Our Lord(v.1-11)
B.He Is Our Healer(v.12-16)
C.He Is Our Savior(v.17-26)
D.He Is The One We Follow(v.27-39)

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A. He Is Our Lord - (v.1-11)
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around Him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him. --Luke 5:1-11
v. 1 - Lake Gennesaret (another name for the Sea of Galilee) with the people crowding around Him and listening to the word of God. Teaching was a major part of Jesus' ministry. There are almost 20 references just in the book of Luke to Jesus' teaching. As has been noted before, this was one of the customary things Jesus did. Apparently the crowd was so large that Jesus needed to get into a boat and move a short way off shore to speak to everyone who had gathered (v.2-3).

The picture this verse draws is vivid - people crowding around Jesus to hear "the word of God". Imagine Jesus explaining various passages and addressing different issues. Jesus' heart to teach is shown here and also the people's heart to learn. People have a "soul-hunger" for God's Word. Jesus said clearly that people "shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" (Matt. 4:4).

Amos 8:11 (New Century Version) says,

The Lord GOD says: 'The days are coming when I will cause a time of hunger in the land. The people will not be hungry for bread or thirsty for water, but they will be hungry for words from the LORD.'"
How hungry are you for the words of the Lord? How well fed are you? If you ate physical food only as often and as much as you "eat" God's Word, what would your physical condition be? That's why a daily Quiet Time is so important - we need regular intake of God's Word.

v. 2 ...fishermen were washing their nets.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John had probably been up all night fishing.  It was their livelihood, or as some might say their "skill set". Peter knew the best time to fish, the best places to fish, the best way to fish and probably tried them all the night before. Now they were cleaning, repairing, laying out the nets to dry for the next outing.

v. 4 - Put out into deep water... Notice Jesus' sensitivity to Peter and his fishing partners here. Even with the crowds, He was sensitive to what Peter says in verse 5 - that they've worked hard all night and caught nothing.

This event was very significant in the life of Peter. Peter learned some important truths about Jesus and about himself through this incident:

#1 HE LEARNED TO TRUST JESUS.

 v. 5 - "But because You say so, I will let down the nets."
What Jesus said didn't make sense to Peter, but he followed Jesus' instructions anyway. He had seen first hand what Jesus had done in his own home (healing his mother-in-law in the previous Chapter) and the wholesale healings that happened in Capernaum, so there was a basis for the trust.

The result was a catch of fish so great that the nets began to break (v.6) and the boats nearly sank (v.7).

These boats were seven and a half feet wide and 23 feet long and could hold a lot of fish so filling them to the point of sinking meant a ton of fish, or more. The crowds on the shore had to be going wild. They were all seeing that even the fish of the sea obeyed Christ.

The Lord's way doesn't always make sense to us, whether it's fishing at noon, work ethics, finances, or marriage and family. But God's way is always best. We can do what we think is best and work hard and "catch nothing". Or we can follow the Lord's instructions in His Word and experience His blessing.

Do you remember a time when Christ came through for you? Can you think of an area in your life where you now need to trust and obey Jesus even though you may not understand why He wants you to do what He has said in His Word?

#2 HE LEARNED THAT JESUS IS LORD.

v. 8 - When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord..."

In verse 5, when Peter first speaks to Jesus, he calls Him "Master". The Greek word used here is επιστατης [epistates] and is found only in Luke in the New Testament. Luke seems to use this word (epistates) and another διδασκολος [didaskolos] - also translated "Master" but from the root word διδασκο [didasko], meaning "to teach" as synonyms for the title, Rabbi. "Rabbi was an Aramaic word signifying 'my master', a title of respectful address to Jewish teachers" (Vine's Dictionary). The title "Rabbi" is found in all the Gospels except Luke. Because Luke was writing to a non-Jewish audience, he apparently selected Greek words with which they would be more familiar. Επιστατης [epistates] emphasizes the authority and leadership of one called "Master" while διδασκολος [didaskolos] emphasizes the instruction. What's interesting here is that in v.5, Peter calls Jesus "Master". Then, after the miraculous provision of fish, in v.8, Peter calls Jesus "Lord" (Greek word - κυριος [kurios]).

After this experience, Peter changed in how he saw Jesus. Now he recognized that Jesus was more than just a rabbi, a respected teacher. Now Peter saw Jesus as his Lord - to be obeyed, to be followed, to be served unconditionally. For the first time Jesus had performed a miracle in area of life where Peter knew all the rules. It must have been overwhelming to him. He had realized that this person was a great rabbi, but now it was obvious that Christ was way beyond that, that there was a divine presence within Him.

For most Christians, most church-goers, Jesus is "Rabbi" - He is a teacher whom they learn from. But the question this passages asks us is, "Is Jesus your Lord?". Do you submit unconditionally to His authority? Will you go where He leads, do what He says? Surrendering to Christ's lordship is a life-long process. Maybe you know specific areas of your life that you need to surrender today.

When Wayne does his altar call, it is not only for those who need to receive Jesus into their heart for the first time, but also for all of us who need to ask God to reveal what areas we need to surrender and the strength to surrender them.

#3 HE LEARNED THAT HE WAS A SINFUL MAN.

The more clearly we see God for who He is, the more clearly we see ourselves for who we are. When Isaiah saw the Lord in the temple (Isaiah 6:1-7), he did not start praising but rather saw his own sinfulness. When Job is talking with God at the end of his ordeal (Job 42 1-6) he said: "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes". Peter's experience here is similar. From the pride and self-confidence he implies in verse 5, now there is a humble and contrite spirit, a sense of unworthiness. As we will see in verses 27-31, one of the greatest barriers between people and the Lord is our failure to see ourselves as genuinely sinful. We tend to think of ourselves as "good" people. We need to recognize that.  We need to follow Peter's lead and go from the pride and self-confidence of being "good people" to the humble and contrite recognition of the sinners that we are.

#4 HE LEARNED OF HIS NEW MISSION

v. 10b - "don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men. So they pulled their boats ashore, left everything and followed Him."

In this case the word "catch" - ζωγρων comes from the Greek words αγρειν [agrein] and ζοος [zoos] meaning to "catch alive". So from now on Peter would be catching men not for death, but to bring them alive, to a new life in Christ.

B. He Is Our Healer - (v.12-16)

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged Him, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. "I am willing," He said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, "Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. --Luke 5:12-16
v. 12 - covered with leprosy - literally, "full of leprosy", probably indicating this man was in the final stages of the disease. Hansen's disease destroys the body's warning system of pain and brings numbness. Hence, the devastation that follows comes from incidents like reaching into a fire for dropped food or stepping on sharp object. The incidents go unnoticed and become infected. When corrective surgery is done the patient is sent home with a cat, to keep vermin away.

Leprosy as a disease is an effective picture of sin. It runs from the soles of our feet to the tips of our ears. The more we have it, the less we realize its effects. We become, "the walking dead" of biblical times in "filthy rags". We need the healing touch of God's grace to wash us.

Why tell the person to go through the cleansing process? To allow the leper to return to his family and friends, to have a record of the healing so that others would know that the Messiah has arrived, to show the religious establishment that grace was available and had been given to him. The Bible doesn't say

Jesus' commitment to the Scriptures is shown here, isn't it? In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus said,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.   I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
v. 16 - "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
Jesus did not let other people determine His schedule. Though the crowds were growing, Jesus kept time with His Father as a priority. The more people wanted to see Him and be helped (v.15), the more steadfast He was in guarding His time alone with The Father.

Conclusions on Luke 5:1-16

In the first section we learned how Peter became aware of his sinfulness and in the second section about how the leper was healed, in part because he knew of his condition. Only if we are aware of our sinful state can we be healed.

In the first section we learned that Peter found out that Jesus was Lord, much more than rabbi or master or leader. In the second section we see a leper who already knows that Jesus is his only hope bow in worshipful submission. If only we surrender all to Him we can also be healed.

In the first section we see how Peter having faith is told to become a catcher of men alive while in the second we have a leper of faith being healed and becoming alive. Healing leads to life.

We need to evangelize. After Christ's command to honor God above all, then to love your neighbor as yourself, the other command was to evangelize.

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Next week - I will finish the rest of Chapter 5.