Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.
‘The dramatic scene here is emphasized by the last two clauses. It had been an unsuccessful night of fishing, and the men who were about to be called to the apostleship were cleaning up the gear and getting ready to store it for the next fishing trip. With marvellous insight, Jesus accomplished several things at once. By using one of the boats as a pulpit, he could avoid the press of the throng and, by means of the great catch a little later, he could provide further insight for the men about to be called to accompany him as apostles. Luke did not record the sermon Jesus preached on that occasion; and thus we should look to what Jesus did, rather than to the unrecorded message. Like the apostle John, Luke recognized the deeply spiritual overtones of such an event as this.’
Jesus says two boats or ships as the KJV renders it.
Barnes in his commentary, says the following.
‘The ships used on so small a lake were probably no more than fishing boats without decks, and easily drawn up on the beach. Josephus says there were 230 of them on the lake, attended by four or five men each. That they were small is also clear from the account commonly given of them. A single large draught of fishes endangered them and came near sinking them.’
Jesus takes full advantage of using Simon’s boat as a pulpit to teach the large crowd who were following Him. After speaking, He turns to Simon and tells him to throw his net into the deeper parts of lake Gennesaret, that is, lake Galilee, Simon, however, appears to be reluctant because they had been fishing all night and caught nothing. But because Jesus commanded him to do so and out of respect for Jesus, he went ahead and did so.
Notice that Simon calls Jesus, ‘Master’. This is the first time that the word translated ‘Master’ occurs in the New Testament, and it is used only by Luke. The other evangelists call him Rabbi, or Lord. The word here used means a ‘prefect’, or one placed ‘over’ others, and hence, it comes to mean ‘teacher’ or ‘guide’.
The result of obeying Jesus’ command was such a large number of fish that the nets began to burst. They had to call for James and John, Luke 5:10, to bring their boat, but even that wasn’t enough, as both boats began to sink.
After witnessing the miraculous catch of fish, Simon falls to his knees and confesses that He is a sinful man. Although Andrew isn’t mentioned by Luke, Matthew 4:18-22, we can be sure that he was one of the ones who were astonished at the catch of fish.
Jesus tells Simon not to be afraid, not only He but also the other four disciples will become fishers of men and so, without any hesitation, he pulls up their boats and leave everything to follow Jesus. These men recognised Jesus’ greatness.
He was the one whose shoes John was unworthy to untie. God had specially acknowledged Him by His own voice from heaven. So, when Jesus demanded radical action, to drop everything and follow Him, they responded immediately.
Note the characteristics of followers of Jesus, these fishermen demonstrated the meaning of discipleship, Mark 1:16-20. When Jesus called, they.
1. Acted immediately.
2. Left both job and family.
3. Started following Him.
Christ calls today through His Word. When we perceive His greatness, we too will:
1. Obey immediately all He says.
2. Put Him ahead of everything, including our job and family.
3. Follow Him, allowing His example to direct every step.
People, who know that Jesus wants them to change, but put it off, are not like these four fishermen.
Peter was a Galilean fisherman who lived on the shores of the Sea of Galilee with his wife, his brother Andrew and his mother-in-law.
People at the time worked as a family unit, so the men and women of Peter’s family worked together to catch and preserve, dry fish for export to the surrounding towns. This particular family was probably in partnership with Zebedee and his sons, James and John, Matthew 4:21.
Like his father and brother Andrew, Simon Peter was a fisherman by trade, working on the Lake of Galilee. His family seems to have been caught up in the revival movement led by John the Baptist. Peter met Jesus at Bethany through his brother Andrew and was immediately impressed.
Jesus called him ‘Peter’, the rock, an odd choice of name since Peter seems to have been passionate and impulsive rather than rock-like. Jesus actually called Peter ‘Cephas’, which is the Aramaic equivalent of ‘Petros’, a rock, John 1:40-42.
The name Andrew is a Greek name which means ‘manly’ or ‘of valour.’ Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter and son of Jonah. He was born in Bethsaida in the province of Galilee and was a fisherman like his brother Peter.
Before he met Jesus, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. However, when John pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God he realized that Jesus was greater and immediately left John, found his brother Peter and became a disciple of Jesus, John 1:25-42.
After this Andrew and Peter continued to be fishermen and lived at home until being called permanently by Jesus to be ‘fishers of men.’ Matthew 4:18-20.
Later Jesus is teaching the multitudes on the mountainside and he asks Philip where they could find food to feed the crowd and Philip says, ‘eight months’ wages could not buy enough bread’ to feed them. It was Andrew who brought the boy with five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus which Jesus miraculously multiplies into enough food to feed everyone, John 6:8-9.
And it was Andrew who during the Passover Feast brought a group of Greeks, Gentiles, to meet Jesus which prompts Jesus to remark ‘when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to myself,’ John 12:20-32.
Andrew knew that Jesus came not only to save Israel but everyone on the earth. The last time Andrew is mentioned in the Bible is in Acts chapter one where he is listed as one of the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension into Heaven. Acts 1:13.
Because they were fishermen, who were used to fishing for fish, Jesus tells them He will make them fishers of men, they will preach the Good News and share it with others, in order that those they teach will become followers of Christ, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15-16.
The apostle James was honoured with a favoured position by Jesus Christ, as one of three men in his inner circle. The others were James’ brother John and Simon Peter.
When Jesus called the brothers, James and John were fishermen with their father Zebedee on the Sea of Galilee. They immediately left their father and their business to follow the young rabbi. James was probably the older of the two brothers because he is always mentioned first.
Three times James, John, and Peter were invited by Jesus to witness events no one else saw, the raising of the daughter of Jairus from the dead, Mark 5:37-47, the transfiguration, Matthew 17:1-3, and Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36-37.
But James wasn’t above making mistakes, when a Samaritan village rejected Jesus, he and John wanted to call down fire from heaven upon the place, this earned them the nickname ‘Boanerges,’ or ‘sons of thunder,’ Mark 3:17.
The mother of James and John also overstepped her bounds, asking Jesus to grant her sons special positions in his kingdom, Matthew 20:20.
James’ zeal for Jesus resulted in his being the first of the 12 apostles to be martyred. He was killed with the sword on the order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea, about 44 A.D., in a general persecution of the early church, Acts 12:1-2.
John was the brother of the apostle James, he was also the son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Galilee. His mother’s name was Salome who is believed to be the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary. John, his brother James and the apostle’s Peter and Andrew were all partners in a fishing business prior to their calls by Jesus to follow Him, Zebedee was also a partner.
It is said that John owned a home in Jerusalem and that it’s possible that the interview Nicodemus had with Jesus was held there. John with his brother James wanted to call down fire from heaven upon the place, this earned them the nickname ‘Boanerges,’ or ‘sons of thunder,’ Mark 3:17.
The apostle John rose to a position of influence within worldwide Christianity and shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D., he moved to Ephesus.
He became the elder of the church in Ephesus and had a special relationship with other churches in the area, as we know from the letters to the Seven Churches in Asia, in the Book of Revelation.
John’s brother, James, was the first of the apostles to die, on the other hand, John was the last. All of the apostles met a violent death, however, John died peacefully in Ephesus, at an advanced age, around the year 100 AD.
There is a church tradition, which says, that while John was living in Ephesus, John had with him Mary, the mother of Jesus, for a few years. While in Ephesus, by order of the Roman emperor Domitian, John was exiled to an island called Patmos.
In what is known as the cave of the Apocalypse, located on this island, the sacred text of the book of Revelation was given to the apostle John by Jesus, it’s here that John recorded what is written in the New Testament Book of Revelation.
Other New Testament books accredited to John are the Gospel of John, along with 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. When he was released from exile, he returned to Ephesus and lived till the time of the Roman emperor Trajan.
It’s said that John, founded and built churches throughout all of Asia, and worn out by old age, died in the sixty-eight year after our Lord’s passion and was buried near the same city, Ephesus.
Peter and Andrew drops their nets and followed Jesus, James and John left their nets and their father and followed Jesus too. Think about this, they left their jobs, their family, and their comforts immediately to follow Jesus, Matthew 10:37-39 / Mark 10:28 / Luke 9:23.
What does Jesus’ choosing of Peter, Andrew, James and John tell us about the character of a person who can take Jesus to the world? They all had their strengths and weakness, they were ordinary people who weren’t highly educated people.
The term ‘leprosy’ which includes the words leper, lepers, leprosy, and leprous occurs 68 times in the Bible, 55 times in the Old Testament, ‘tsara’ath’ and 13 times in the New Testament, ‘lepros’, ‘lepra’.
In the Old Testament, the instances of leprosy most likely meant a variety of infectious skin diseases, and even mould and mildew on clothing and walls.
In the New Testament, it seems to mean an infectious skin disease. The disease itself was considered by some as some kind of sin but not necessarily a specific sin relating to the leper themselves.
We can’t begin to imagine what life would have been like for a leper as they lived in their own colonies, separated from society. Their food and clothing needs would have been provided by their families and close friends.
Living in isolation can never be easy, not being able to shake someone’s hand or hug your husband or wife or even your children. This explains why they stood at a distance.
Imagine never being able to go to the temple to worship God, imagine not being able to work, imagine the itchiness and daily struggles they would have had!
This was through no fault of their own, but because they were lepers they couldn’t associate with society because they were classed as unclean by the law, Leviticus 13:45-46 / Numbers 5:2.
The man’s faith in Jesus is obvious as he requests Jesus to heal him if He was willing. He is in great need but he knows who can heal him.
Jesus’ response is far more than a momentary pang of conscience, a tug at the heartstrings that lasts a few moments and is then forgotten.
Compassion speaks of sympathy that desires to remove the cause of the suffering. This provides us with an insight into the heart of God. He is a compassionate God.
Jesus reaches out and touches him. Touching is an effective way of communicating. Jesus didn’t have to do this, a spoken word would have sufficed, but so much is said by a touch. Jesus was coming into contact with the untouchable, he was entering into his world.
Jesus’ touching the leper tells us something about the ministry of Jesus, alienation is being removed and reinstatement is taking place.
Jesus doesn’t rebuke him for the uncertainty in his words. Jesus didn’t say, ‘what do you mean, if? What kind of faith is that?’ Compassion doesn’t respond in that way.
Jesus was more than willing and with the words, ‘be clean’, the man was healed. Notice he was healed from his leprosy immediately. The healing is instant, there’s no need for a medical examination. No need to place him on a period of probation just to make sure that the leprosy has really gone.
Jesus made no deal with the leper, no money changed hands, and no performance was given, only love from the compassionate Christ.
Jesus said to the leper, ‘don’t tell anyone’ simply because, at this point in His ministry, He didn’t want to be bombarded with other people coming to be healed.
He still had a lot of work to be done at this stage, Matthew 9:30 / Matthew 12:16 / Matthew 17:9 / Mark 1:44 / Mark 3:12 / Mark 5:43 / Luke 4:41 / Luke 9:21.
Jesus tells him to show himself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them. After any leper was cleansed of his disease, the law said they were to present themselves to a priest in order to receive confirmation that he was clean, Deuteronomy 24:8 / Leviticus 13:1-6 / Leviticus 13:45- 49 / Leviticus 14:1-32 / Luke 5:14.
Imagine how his life would have been changed after his healing, imagine them hugging their wife or husband and children for the first time in whatever amount of time they’ve had this disease.
Imagine being able to go to the priests to show themselves and to be able to socialise again and worship God in the temple again. To get a mainstream job and walk through the marketplace places in Jerusalem. This healing was life-changing on all kinds of levels, physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually.
Despite Jesus trying to keep a low profile, the news about Him spread all the more, and as a result, many came to hear Him and to be healed of their ailments. Jesus often went to be alone and spend time in prayer with the Father, Luke 4:42-44 / Luke 4:9:10.
As a result of His teaching and miracles, Jesus’ popularity grew rapidly. So many wanted to hear Him that they filled the house in Capernaum where He was teaching and crowded around it, Mark 2:1-12.
Just then, five men arrived, eager to see Jesus too. One of them was paralysed and the other four carried him on a stretcher.
It was impossible for them to get in through the door, so they climbed up on the roof, dug a hole in it and let the paralytic down through the opening they had created. You can imagine the commotion among the crowd in the house below.
When Jesus saw the faith, they had demonstrated, He told the lame man that his sins were forgiven. That was probably not what the man had expected, but it is every man’s greatest need.
His disability may have been caused by some sin he was involved in during his life, we can’t be sure, but we do know that sin can have a devastating consequence in our lives.
Notice the lame man, those who brought him in and everyone else didn’t say a thing, it was only the teachers of the law who were present who thought Jesus had blasphemed because God alone can forgive sins. Jesus read their minds and asked, ‘which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven, or get up and walk?
To prove His ability to forgive sins, something invisible and therefore impossible to verify, He healed the paralytic who then got up and walked.
Jesus proved His power to conquer invisible, spiritual problems by overcoming a visible, physical problem. The crowd was dumbfounded. They had never seen anything to compare with Jesus.
Consider the five men as they approached the house in which Jesus was teaching. They had come in order to see Him, but their way to Jesus was blocked by a big obstacle: the crowd. Many would have simply turned around and gone back home. Not these men.
They were determined, even desperate, in their desire to see Jesus.
Their procedure, un-roofing the roof, was radical but it worked. Even today, those who want to come to Jesus frequently encounter barriers in their path.
The only ones, who actually reach Him, are those who are absolutely determined and who refuse to allow anything to keep them from following Him. How determined to be with Jesus are you?
Because Capernaum was the location of the tax office, where taxes, tolls and land duties were collected for both the Romans, who occupied Palestine and the Herodians, who ruled Galilee.
It hardly needs to be said, that those who were involved in the work of collecting money for either Romans or Herodians, were despised and hated by the general public so they had to find their friends among other ‘social outcasts’, who included prostitutes.
One of Jesus’ more surprising actions was calling Levi to be a disciple. Levi had been a tax collector.
In that era, tax collectors were viewed as both thieves and traitors because they used dishonest tactics to raise funds for the hated Roman invaders. Adding a tax collector to His inner circle was hardly a move that could be expected to increase Jesus’ popularity!
The expression ‘many tax-collectors’, in Mark 2:15, is also significant because it reveals how lucrative the business of tax collection was for both the Authorities and the Officials who served them!
We have evidence of this in this chapter, when Mark records the call of Levi, later named Matthew, Mark 2:13-17. After deserting his Tax Office at the call of Jesus, he called together ‘many tax collectors and sinners’ to a feast.
Notice, also, that, in Mark 2:14, when Mark records that Levi left his Tax-office and ‘followed’ Jesus, the word ‘followed’ is in the imperfect tense, and means that he ‘kept following’ Jesus. It was a defining moment in his life.
Levi was not moved by a passing curiosity in this remarkable teacher. He made a commitment that day! I think that this ‘great feast’ was his way of marking his break from his past life, and used as an opportunity of introducing his friends to Jesus.
This calls to mind another incident that occurred about that time and in that region when Andrew broke the news to his brother Simon Peter that he had found the Messiah.
His response to Peter’s scepticism was ‘Come and see!’ At that stage, neither Matthew nor Andrew knew enough to say very much about Jesus, but they could bring people to personally meet Jesus!
It is interesting also to compare Mark’s account with that of Luke. Luke describes the meal to which these guests were invited, as a ‘Great feast’, but his language used in describing them is different from that of Mark.
He describes them as ‘a great company of tax-collectors’. As a Greek, himself, i.e., a Gentile, Luke does not use the religious designation used by Mark, who was a Jew, who describes them as ‘sinners’.
I wonder if Luke realised that he, also, as a Gentile, would have been included among the ‘sinners’? By the way, the difference in the use of the language used by Mark and Luke is an example of how divine inspiration worked. The Holy Spirit did not inspire Luke to use language that would have been foreign to his thinking.
Luke would never have described non-Jews as ‘sinners’ or ‘Gentile’, which was an even more offensive expression. Greeks would not use such a discriminative term.
It is true that he does use the word ‘sinners’ in Luke 5:30, but he does so because he is recording accurately, something that had been said by the Scribes and Pharisees.
Furthermore, the use of Luke’s expression ‘a great feast’ and the number of guests who were invited, reveals that Matthew the tax-collector and the ‘fourfold’ restoration he declared he would make if he had ‘defrauded’ anyone!
Later, Levi held a banquet in Christ’s honour. He invited his friends, other tax collectors and sinners. The scribes and Pharisees were outraged because they thought it improper for a teacher of religion to eat with immoral people.
When Jesus overheard their criticism, He asked, ‘Who needs a doctor, the sick or the well?’ His purpose, He said, was not to call righteous, but sinners. The Lord never hesitated to break society’s norms and customs.
Jesus is basically saying to the teachers of the Law, ‘I have no message for you! You guys think you are not sick and think you are already righteous’. I wonder what they must have thought when Jesus said those words!
Some of the Pharisees and disciples of John came to Jesus asking why He and His disciples didn’t fast as other religious people did. Jesus explained by illustration.
He said that no one would fast at a time of celebration, such as a wedding. His own presence on the earth made it a joyous time of feasting because He was the bridegroom. Since fasting should fit the occasion, it was inappropriate in this situation.
He also explained that just as no one would put new wine in old bottles or a new patch on old jeans; it was equally out of place to put the newly revealed Gospel of Christ into the old traditional forms of the Jews. Fasting was just not the right thing to do when the Son of God Himself was present.
The ‘new’ is in reference to Jesus’ teaching and the ‘old’ is in reference to the Jewish system. Jesus is saying that fasting isn’t required under his new teaching but was under the Jewish system. John was practising old system requirements, Acts 19:1-4.
Fasting was an accepted part of everyday life in Old Testament times. Bear in mind that Israel was not a political state, but a theocracy, which is a religious state in which the Law and will of God were preeminent.
The first reference to fasting is in the Book of Judges, Judges 20:26. The last in the Book of the prophet Zechariah and devout Jews fasted, Zechariah 8:19.
Most of the fasting was undertaken voluntarily and was not undertaken at the command of God but devout Jews undertook fasting for at least two reasons.
Not for health reasons, but,
1. Because they believed it was a way of attracting the attention of God. If they fasted, they thought that God noticed them.
2. Because they thought that, if they fasted, He would be prepared do something about the situation that had caused them to fast.
If you think about this second reason, you will see that if a man thought fasting had influenced God to act, it was very easy for him to imagine that he, personally, was someone special!
The reality, although, through the centuries, the Jew, especially after the Babylonian Captivity, introduced fasts for a whole range of reasons, but only one fast was specifically commanded by God, and that was the fast associated with the Day of Atonement, the most important and solemn Day in their religious year.
In Leviticus 16:29, the expression, ‘deny yourselves’ or ‘afflict your souls’ is the expression for fasting, and this was the only fast that the Jews observed faithfully every year.
When we examine the New Testament, it surprises some people to find that the Lord only mentioned fasting twice, Matthew 6:16-18 / Mark 2:18-22. Notice that both passages above, record Jesus’ response to the practice of that time.
But also, notice, although about 16 times He says, ‘it was said by those of old-time…. but I say to you’, Jesus doesn’t use these words because this kind of fasting about which He was speaking wasn’t covered by the Mosaic Law, but because it was something that the people had taken on themselves in the old law.
In Acts 13:1-3, Luke records that the church in Antioch sent Barnabas and Paul on the First Missionary Journey, with prayer and fasting, and in the next chapter, they fasted in connection with the appointment of Elders in the congregations that they established during that journey. Please note that the whole church didn’t fast, it was only those mentioned in Acts 13:1.
Notice Paul mentions sexual fasting in l Corinthians 7:1-5 but neither here nor anywhere else, does he impose it as a command. In 2 Corinthians 6:5, and 2 Corinthians 11:27, he refers to what he suffered for the sake of the Gospel and speaks of times when he went without food. But this wasn’t because he was ‘fasting’, but because he had no food to eat!
The answer to the question, should a Christian Fast? is, therefore, yes! If they want to! but remember that fasting, like ‘bodily exercise’ may do a little good, but ‘godliness is profitable for all things!’ 1 Timothy 4:8.