Simon had already known Jesus but until this incident he had remained a fisherman. It was his business and not a hobby but a way of earning his living. Fishing was his profession and he was good at his work. Simon was partnered with James and John and they were very successful in the fishing business.
The command that Jesus gave Simon most likely took him by surprise. Simon was a man who spook his mind and told Jesus that they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. But because He had told him to do so Simon dropped the net into the water. Simon knew that Jesus was different than any other man he had met and obeyed His command in obedience.
The miracle of the tremendous amount of fish caught in the net of Simon overwhelmed Simon, the nets, and the boat of Simon. Simon already knew that this man, Jesus, was unlike any other and the great amount of fish confirmed what he had been feeling about Jesus. Simon had already observed miracles performed by Jesus by the result of His authoritarian Word. Overwhelmed by this experience Simon was humbled to his knees in the presence of Jesus.
Simon confessed, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” We may recall that the Prophet Isaiah had the same reaction when in the presence of God. (Isaiah 6:5) Simon felt and knew the difference between him and Jesus. The grace and power of Jesus made Simon aware of his own sinfulness. Knowing that he was unworthy Simon asked Jesus to depart from him.
Instead of leaving Simon Jesus spoke words of comfort and challenged him. Because Jesus understood what Simon was feeling He dealt compassionately with Simon’s fear and agitation of spirit. Then Jesus called Simon and told him to follow. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mathew 4:19)
One of the themes of the Gospel of Luke is the acceptance of Jesus of the unacceptable. This was the experience of Simon. Simon was confident not only because of the words of assurance from Jesus but also that He would call him to service. This is a beautiful picture of God’s amazing grace that He not only allows us into His presence but call us into His service.
Simon’s response was that of complete commitment. He may have already been thinking about it from previous meetings with Jesus. Simon was an established fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, he was married, and had a home. This was not an easy decision for Simon to make but in his heart he knew that this was an opportunity that he must take. In the mind of Simon the die was cast and he cut ties with his past and followed Jesus for the remainder of his life totally committed.
We know enough about Simon that this was just the beginning. It was just the beginning of his pilgrimage as a disciple of Jesus. But it was the first step and no pilgrimage can begin without that first committed step.
Reaching the untouchable 12-16
In all of society there was none more pitiful than the leper. Their disease was a slow and lingering death. They were put off from the rest of society and had no contact even with their own families. Only a corpse was more unclean that that of a leper. Yet Jesus dared to touch the leper and to speak with His authority to bring healing. Here again we see Jesus’ ability to reach the untouchable. Jesus told the leper to tell no one that He had healed him but to go to the priest and offer sacrifices, the word got out to the people, and they flocked to hear Him and to be healed. Jesus then withdrew and went off to pray. Jesus was not wanting to be known only as a miracle worker.
The “Sins” of Jesus 5:17 to 6:11
The New Testament testifies that Jesus was sinless. But His opponents, however, accused Him of a number of sins. In this section of Scripture we read of four issues that his opponents saw as sinful. The forgiveness of sins, associating with sinners, fasting, and the Sabbath.
The dignitaries 17-26
The scribes and Pharisees have heard of Jesus and now they have turned up to investigate. They have come from all over Galilee and Judea and including Jerusalem. At this point there was no evil intent mentioned but they became Jesus’ worst critics.
The Pharisees were a leading party of the Jews in that day. They held to a strict interpretation of the law and kept it according to their tradition. They were people who were superior in their biblical knowledge and would not associate with unclean people or things. The teachers of the law were called scribes and were professional students of the law. Most of the scribes were Pharisees as well.
Sins forgiven 18-20
Why did Jesus deal with a man’s sins before healing that man? There could be a connection between sin and illness either real or imagined. There were many in that day that believed that sin brought on sickness. (John 9:2) Most likely Jesus dealt with the man’s sin first because this was his greatest need. The total person was a concern of Jesus but at the heart of a person is the problem of sin and guilt. Jesus’ healing was a sign of salvation from the moral and spiritual sickness of sin.
Blasphemer of Savior 21-26
Here we see the first charge against Jesus from the scribes and Pharisees was that of blasphemy. Jesus forgave sins something that only God could do according to the scribes and Pharisees. This would have been correct if Jesus was not the Son of God and was just another man. Any person who claimed to be God was a blasphemer. Only the Messiah or the Son of God could claim deity. But Jesus was no a blasphemer because He acted with Divine authority to declare sins forgiven. Jesus said, “But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
Jesus did claim divine status but He did not use any of the Messianic titles, instead He called Himself the Son of man. Verse 24 is the first time in the Gospel of Luke Jesus uses this title. This is the title that Jesus used more than any other when referring to Himself and who He was. It may be that Jesus avoided the better known titles because the people had preconceived ideas as to their meaning. Jesus was able to bring His own meaning to the title Son of man.
Jesus used this title, Son of man, to stress two aspects of His redemptive work, death and resurrection. (Luke 9:22) In one way the Son of man is a humble sufferer who seems weak and then on the other hand He is vindicated and glorified in Divine power. (Luke 9:26)
Associated with Sinners 27-32
In this Gospel of Luke we see Jesus as a friend to the sinners. Jesus associated with all kinds of people and this placed Him on a collision course with the Pharisees.
Levi the tax collector invited Jesus to supper. Fellowship around the super table is one of the closet of human associations. Pharisees only associate with people who observed the law strictly and followed the rituals of cleanliness.
There were two groups that were guest at the supper with Levi. Neither of these two groups met the standard of the Pharisees. Tax collectors were social outcast in the Jewish community. They were known to be collaborators with the foreign dominated government of the day. They were extortionist and took more tax than was required by the government to line their own pockets. In their daily duties they had contact with many people who were unclean. In this text the word sinner means people that paid little heed to the religious rituals of the Pharisees.
It has been said that the Pharisees believed in salvation by separation while Jesus practiced salvation by association. The Pharisees made every effort to separate themselves from the unclean people. They would receive sinners but only after they had repented and became a Pharisee. Jesus only befriended the sinners but He did not become a sinner. He befriended them only to help them to find their way to God and a new life. The Pharisees called Jesus a sinner for associating with sinners and Jesus called the Pharisees sinners for not associating with sinners.
Fast or Feast 33-39
In the Old Testament there was only one time of required fasting and that was in connection with the Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 16:29) During a crisis fasting was practiced. The Pharisees, as pious as they were, fasted twice each week. (Luke 18:12) Fasting for the Pharisee was a mark of their special commitment and dedication. So the Pharisees were critical of Jesus and His disciples for not fasting.
Jesus explained to the Pharisees that fasting was not appropriate during the weeding feast. In the Bible the messianic age was referred to as the weeding feast. In this statement Jesus was claiming to be the Bridegroom for whom the feast was being held.
The Pharisees accused Jesus of frivolousness and neglecting basic spiritual disciplines. Jesus on occasion did fast, and He often spent time in prayer. But Jesus did not make fasting into a ritual. Fasting for Jesus was a natural fast which resulted from more important matters. (John 4:31-34)
Old and the New 36-39
Jesus offered an analogy to broaden the application which Luke called a parable. At issue was the new way of Jesus with the old way of Judaism. Jesus’ way cannot be patched onto Judaism like a piece of cloth.
Jesus also used an analogy with old and new wine. Pouring the new way of the gospel into the old wineskins of Judaism would result in spilling the new wine and ruining the old wineskins. Luke only records the words of verse 39. Jesus may have been speaking of those who would always cling to the old way. Their argument would be that the old way is best as old wine is best.