Fishing, Healing, and Forgiving (Luke 5:1-26)
Fishing (verses 1-11)
The instruction that Jesus gives Peter is accompanied with a promise, telling him that if he lets his net down, there will be a catch. Although with hesitancy, Peter obeys. Though we are often hesitant, reluctant, doubting, fearful, and moved by mixed motives, obedience is crucial for our relationship with Jesus. All reason tells Peter that letting the nets down again is foolish, but he says, “I will do as you say.” Peter obeys because it was his Master that had said it. His obedience gives way to abundant blessing, with nets so full they could hardly haul them in.
When Peter sees the power and majesty of Jesus displayed in the boat, his sinfulness is also exposed. His response is like that of Isaiah’s and Job’s upon seeing the glory of God, acknowledging his own unworthiness in the presence of His holiness. While Peter is fearful, concerned about his usefulness in light of his sinfulness, Jesus assures him that he is actually the ideal candidate for usefulness to God. It is saved sinners like Peter that God looks for to become those fishermen who cast the net of the Gospel into the ocean of the world to bring in the lost.
– Can you think of any other situations where Christ makes a promise that is hinged on obedience?
– Why are saved sinners the ideal candidates for usefulness to God? What are certain attributes that make someone useful to Him as a fisher of men?
Healing (verses 12-16)
Leprosy was considered “the father of all uncleanness; a living death.” It was “easier to raise the dead than to cure leprosy.” Lepers were shunned and isolated from society and kept outside of the city walls. It was a wretched and hopeless condition. Though Jesus could have healed him with a word, He instead reaches out his hand and touches the leper, becoming ritually infected and “unclean” in order to cleanse the leper. Christ became sin for us, in order to bring about our cleansing by absorbing the wrath of God on our behalf. The mind of Christ toward this leper is the mind of Christ toward sinners, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
As news about Jesus was spreading, more and more people were coming to Him to be healed of their sicknesses. The man who was healed was unable to remain silent about this man who made him completely well. As the crowds were coming to him, Jesus slipped away to spend time with His Father. The busier things became, the greater the need to be intentional about slipping away to be alone with God.
– Why was it so important for Jesus to spend time alone with His Father when he could have been helping so many people in the meantime?
– What are ways that you are currently making time alone with God a priority in the midst of your busy schedule?
Forgiving (verses 17-26)
The friends of this paralytic were determined to get him inside to see Jesus. Intercession is hard work, but it is easier than dropping a stretcher through the roof. We have been given the incredible opportunity to lay all of our requests before the Lord and intercede for the needs we see in our lives and in those around us. The friends did not gently knock at the door of the house, giving up when they heard no answer. They looked for any way possible to get their friend to the feet of Jesus, and would not give up until they got him there.
When Jesus announces that the paralytic’s sins are forgiven, the Pharisees scoff, stating that only God can forgive sins. Jesus demonstrates with proof that He has authority to forgive sins, because He is the Son of Man. He is declaring that He is God. As the paralytic gets up and walks out, we see that Jesus has all authority to set sinners free. The man came in paralyzed and guilty, and he left freed from his paralysis and free from his guilt.
– How might we pattern our intercession after the model of the paralytic’s friends? According to this account, what do you think a lack of intercession reflects?
– How ought the knowledge of Jesus’ authority to forgive sins affect our approach to God when we are paralyzed by our own guilt and sinfulness?