Luke 5:1

I. PREVIOUS AND LESS FORMAL CALL. Our Lord now calls to his side the first four disciples - Andrew and John, Peter and James. With the former pair he had already made acquaintance when they were disciples of John the Baptist. The account which St. John in his Gospel gives of the matter is complementary, and throws light on it, enabling us to understand more clearly how it was that these two brethren showed such alacrity and readiness in now obeying the Saviour's more formal call, and in following him. Andrew was one of the two disciples whose attention the Baptist directed to Jesus as "the Lamb of God," and John was in all probability the other, though, with his usual reserve, he does not name himself in the narrative. These two were privileged to spend a day with Christ, by special invitation, from ten o'clock in the morning, if we adopt the modern reckoning; otherwise from four p.m. Andrew was the means of bringing his brother Simon Peter to Christ, and John may have rendered the same signal service to his brother James. In the interval between the first and this more formal call, these disciples had returned to their daily duties, biding their time till the Master would require their more special and active services.

II. THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT OF ANDREW. The Christian spirit is in its very nature missionary. As soon as Andrew, with whom in one sense the Christian Church begins, got good for his own soul, he wished to share it with others; soon as he found Christ for himself, he set about making him known to others. His charity, too, begins at home, for he does not rest satisfied with the great discovery he had been favored with, nor does he selfishly keep it to himself, he immediately goes in quest of his own brother, to communicate to him the good news. But though charity in his case began at home, it did not confine itself to such narrow domestic limits. On two other occasions we find Andrew similarly employed in bringing persons to Christ. It was he that brought the lad with the five barley loaves and the two small fishes to Christ, as we read in John 6:8. Not only so; it was Andrew who, in company with his townsman Philip, introduced to the Saviour those Greeks who, having come up to worship at the feast, expressed their earnest wish for that interview, saying, "Sir, we would see Jesus." And now that Andrew, in the fullness of his brotherly affection, had brought Peter to Christ, Andrew and Peter were bound together ever after, in a dearer, because a double, bond of brotherhood. Here is an example worthy of imitation, and that not only by the brethren of the same family, but by dwellers in the same neighborhood and members of the same community, who may have shared with us in the amusements of childhood or the employments of youth, or who still walk side by side with us in manhood on the journey of life. Nay, as far as in us lies, by proxy, if not in person, we must seek to be instrumental in brining our fellow-creatures of every name and clime to the foot of the cross, and in thus winning the world for Christ.

III. THE EMPLOYMENT OF THESE DISCIPLES. While Andrew and Peter were brothers and joint-occupants of the same dwelling - as we learn from ver. 29, owing to St. Mark's attention, to minute details - we are informed by St. Luke that James and John were partners in trade (κοινωνοί), i.e. in a sort of fishing firm, with Simon, and so sharers in the general profits of the little company. They were also fellow-workers, for they are called, some verses earlier in the same chapter, sharers in the work. Diligence in business, whatever our employment may be, is an important duty, and one which God is sure to acknowledge and bless; while Satan is ever ready to find mischief for idle hands to do. Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, when the angel of the Lord, appearing unto him in that bush that burned with fire and yet was not consumed, sent him to bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt. Gideon was threshing wheat by the wine-press, to hide it, when he was summoned to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Saul was making search for the lost asses of his father, when he was taken by Samuel and anointed with oil to be captain over the Lord's inheritance. David was tending a few sheep in the wilderness, when God called him to the high office of shepherd of his people Israel. Elisha was "ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth," when Elijah cast his mantle upon him in token of his becoming his assistant and successor in the prophetic office.

IV. THE PLACE OF THEIR WORK.

1. Name of the lake. "The Lake of Gennesaret," as St. Luke accurately calls this sheet of water so famous in sacred story, is termed" the Sea of Galilee" by St. Matthew and St. Mark, "the Sea of Tiberias" also by St. John, and in the Old Testament "the Sea of Chinnereth," i.e. harp-like in shape, of which "Gennesaret" may be a corruption, if the latter word be not derived from two Hebrew words meaning "gardens of princes" (ganne satire) or "garden of Sharon" (gan sharon); while it gets the designation "of Galilee" from the province in which it is situated and that of " Tiberias" from the Roman emperor Tiberias, in compliment to whom the town Tiberias was so named by Herod Antipas, its founder. From this, too, comes the modern name by which the lake is sometimes named Bahr-al-Tabariyeh.

2. The shape and size of the lake. We have already referred to its shape as resembling a harp. It is somewhat oval, and very like a pear in form; while its length is twelve miles and a quarter by six and three quarters in breadth at its widest part. The depression of the lake is remarkable - . between six hundred and seven hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. Its waters, reflecting the blue of the sky above, are clear, transparent, and sweet to the taste; while all sorts of fish, largely contributed by the numerous streams that enter it, abound therein.

3. Scenery and surroundings. The margin of the lake is surrounded by a level beach, here covered with smooth sand or small shells, there strewn with coarser shingle, and discernible as a white line encompassing the lake. This beach (αἰγιαλός), so often mentioned in the Gospels, while laved on one side by the bright waters of the lake, is fringed on the other side in many parts by shrubs and oleanders with their rosy-red blossoms. From this shore-line rise gradually in most places the surrounding hills, though to no considerable height, with brown outline but ever-varying tints; while away in the distance are seen in white lines along the sky the snowy peaks of Hermon; also on the eastern side the undulating table-lands commencing in Gaulonitis run southward from Caesarea Philippi down to the Yarmuck, and onward through Peraea. But coming close to the lake and commencing at Kerak, we proceed northward to the hot springs, near to which extend the ruins of Tiberias now Tabariyeh. This was the noble city where once "the Jewish pontiff fixed his throne," and where the Sanhedrin was established; where, moreover, existed for three centuries the metropolis and university of Judaism. Near this place are steep rocks and a mountain approaching the water's edge. Further north we reach Magdala, now a miserable village called Mejdel, where Mary Magdalene had her home. It is situated at the southern extremity of the plain of Gennesaret, now called El Ghuweir, "the little hollow." Here again the mountains recede, and this plain on the north-western shore of the lake is formed; its extent is two miles and a half long and one mile broad. It is now covered with brushwood and some patches of corn, though once so celebrated for fertility and beauty. The description of it by Josephus has been often quoted; it is as follows: - "One may call this place the ambition of nature, when it forces those plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together. It is a happy contention of the seasons, as if every one of them laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruits beyond man's expectation, but preserves them a great while. It supplies man with its principal fruits, with grapes and figs continually during ten months of the year, and the rest of the fruits, as they become ripe together, through the whole year; for besides the good temperature of the air, it is watered from a most fertile fountain." The abundant waters that irrigate this plain proceed from a large round basin of antique structure, called Ain-el-Medawara, or Round Fountain; or according to others, from the fountain called Ain-et-Tabiga. At the other or northern extremity of the plain are the ruins of Khan Minyeh, marking, perhaps, the site of ancient Chinnereth, but wrongly identified by some with Capernaum Close to this is the Fountain of the Fig Tree, called Ain-et-Tin, with its rather indifferent water; and a quarter of an hour further in the same direction brings us to the little bay and great spring of Tabiga, supposed, as we have seen, by some to be that of which Josephus speaks as watering the plain of Gennesaret. A mile and a half further northward we find the ruins of Tell Hum, rightly identified, as we think, with the ancient Capernaum, Kerr-ha-hum being changed into Tell Hum by abridging the termination into hum, and substituting for Kerr, a village, Tell, a heap, when a heap of rubbish was all that remained of it. If Tell Hum be in reality Capernaum, then Kerazeh, two miles and a half from the lake, and about two miles north from Tell Hum, is Chorazin. Two miles further onward bring us to mounds and heaps of stones called Abu Zany, at the northern mouth of the Jordan, identified by the author of the ' Land and the Book' with Bethsaida of Galilee - the native place of Andrew and Peter and Philip; while on the opposite bank are ruins which the same writer considers to be Bethsaida Julias. With the east side of the lake we have less to do, and the very few spots on that side of any importance have less interest for us. There is the very fertile and well-watered plain of Butaiha along the north-east shore of the lake, which bears a close resemblance to the plain of Gennesaret on the north-west shore. There are besides the ruins of Khersa, the ancient Gergesa, on the left bank of the Wady Semakh; the remains of Gamala, on a hill near the Wady Fik; and the ruins of Um Keis, the ancient Gadara, a long way southward.

4. State of matters at present. In the days of our Lord and his disciples the fisheries yielded a profitable revenue, while one, perhaps two, of the villages on its shores, viz. Western and Eastern Bethsaida, "house of fish," got their names therefrom. The white sails of vessels, amounting to some thousands, were seen in its waters, from the ship of war or merchantman down to the fishing-smack or pleasure-boat. Its surface was astir with life and energy and joy. Now a single miserable bark is all that furrows its waves, and even that is sometimes difficult to procure. The noise and bustle and activities of numerous villages and towns are hushed in unbroken silence.

5. The sacredness of this district. Here indeed is holy ground. "Five little towns," says Renan, "of which humanity will speak for ever as much as of Rome and of Athens, were, at the time of our Lord, scattered over the space that extends from the village of Mejdel to Tell Hum;" the towns he refers to are Magdala, Dalmanutha, Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin. Elsewhere he says," We have a fifth Gospel, lacerated, but still legible (lacere, mais lisible encore)," in the harmony of the gospel narrative with the places therein described. It was here Jesus called his first disciples; it was here he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; it was here from its deck he taught the pressing crowds that lined the shore; it was here he walked upon the waters; it was here he stilled the storm; it was here, after his resurrection, he was known to the disciples by the great draught of fishes; it was here he directed them to bring of the fish thus caught and "come and dine." "What," says Dr. Thomson in 'The Land and the Book,' "can be more interesting? A quiet ramble along the head of this sacred sea! The blessed feet of Emmanuel have hallowed every acre, and the eye of Divine love has gazed a thousand times upon this fair expanse of lake and land. Oh! it is surpassingly beautiful at this evening hour. Those western hills stretch their lengthening shadows ever it, as loving mothers drop the gauzy curtains round the cradle of their sleeping babes. Cold must be the heart that throbs not with unwonted emotion. Son of God and Saviour of the world! with thee my thankful spirit seeks communion here on the threshold of thine earthly home." Still more beautiful and touching are the verses of the sainted McCheyne on the sea of Galilee, of which, though so well known, we venture to cite the three following

"How pleasant to me thy deep blue wave,
O Sea of Galileo!
For the glorious One who came to save
Hath often stood by thee.

"Graceful around thee the mountains meet,
Thou calm reposing sea;
But ah, far more! the beautiful feet
Of Jesus walked o'er thee.

"O Saviour I gone to God's right hand!
Yet the same Saviour still,
Graved on thy heart is this lovely strand
And every fragrant hill."

V. MANNER OF THEIR WORK AND ACTUAL ENGAGEMENT WHEN CALLED, Simon and Andrew were actually engaged in fishing when the Master called them; James and John were mending, or rather preparing (καταρτίζοντας), their nets. Here we are taught the right use and proper economy of time. When not actually engaged in the labours of our calling we may do much in preparing for it, either taking necessary rest and refreshment for our bodies, and so acquiring vigor by repose, or in getting our apparatus or equipments of whatever kind in readiness for the resumption of labour. Different kinds of nets. Three kinds of nets were used by the Galilean fishermen. There was the δίκτυον, the most general name for any kind of net, and derived from δίκω, I cast, a word akin to δίσκος, a quoit. It is sometimes used figuratively in the LXX., as παγίς is in the Pauline Epistle in the New Testament. Nets of this sort John and James were repairing when they were summoned by the Saviour. There was the ἀμφίβληστρον, from ἀμφί, around, and βαλλώ, I cast - the casting-net spreading out in a circle when cast into the water, and sinking by weights attached. From its circular shape it enclosed whatever lay below it. There was also the σαγήνη, from σάττω σέσαγα, I load, which was a sweep-net of wide reach, and included a wide extent of sea. Hence it is used, according to Trench, in a parable, "wherein our Lord is setting forth the wide reach and all-embracing character of his future kingdom," and where neither of the other two words would have suited as well or at all.

VI. READY AND UNRESERVED COMPLIANCE. No sooner had our Lord said, "Hither, after me," as the original words literally mean, than these four brethren, James and John, as well as Simon and Andrew, at once obeyed the summons. St. Mark's words here are very expressive - they went away or off behind him - and imply the completeness with which they separated themselves from previous connections and severed themselves from past pursuits, as also the entire devotion with which they joined their new Master and commenced their new calling. They do not seem to have entered into any worldly calculations as to their present maintenance or future prospects, or to have counted the cost of the sacrifice they were called to make; neither did they consult with flesh and blood, or take into account considerations such as carnal policy is apt to suggest. They left all at once and for ever. What if their boats and nets were comparatively of small value or little worth in the estimate of the rich? Still to these fishermen the sacrifice was great, for it involved their worldly all.

VII. THE GOODNESS OF THE MASTER. Hardly, if ever, does Christ give us a precept that he does not add a promise to encourage us to, and help us in, the performance. If he bids us come to him, however weary and worn, sad and suffering and sorrowful we may be, he promises to give us rest; if he bids us take his yoke upon us, he assures us it will be light; if he bids us seek, he promises we shall find; if he urges us to ask, he promises we shall receive; if he presses us to knock, he pledges his word that it shall be opened to us; and so of all the rest. Thus it is here, when he summons them to forsake their humble occupation of fishermen, he gives them the appropriate and characteristic promise to make them "fishers of men."

VIII. INSTRUCTIVE INCIDENT. True religion, instead of cutting the ties of kinship, as a rule consecrates them. Times of persecution, indeed, may separate us from the nearest relatives and dearest friends; for, unless we love Christ more than the nearest and dearest, we are unworthy of him. Still, such cases are exceptional. Here a beautiful circumstance is brought to our notice by St. Mark. John and James, when leaving their father Zebedee to follow their Master, were not forgetful of the claims of filial piety and natural affection. They did not leave their aged father helpless, but with "the hired servants." From this the obvious inference is 'that he would be still enabled to continue his ordinary business, and pursue his usual avocation as heretofore.

IX. INTERESTING INFERENCE. There is good reason to infer that, for his station in life, Zebedee was, as it is called, well to do. If not rich, he was not positively poor. He was in the happy mean which the wise man sought when he said, "Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." The boats and nets and hired servants bespeak the possession of at least a competence for one in his humble position yet honest walk in life. - J.J.G.







And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the Word of God.
What could have been the wonderful secret power by which the great Prophet of Galilee drew all men after Him?

1. One simple and very intelligent element in it was the way in which he recognized the wholeness of human nature, that, at the bottom, peer did not differ from peasant, nor monarch from villager.

2. And not only did He recognize the wholeness of human nature, hut also its many diversified needs.

3. He was sinless, and yet He never had a harsh word for the sinners — provided they were not hypocrites.

4. He had the tenderest feelings for those who enjoyed fewest opportunities.

5. He recognized the natural or social wants which are common to all men. Feeding five thousand; making wine at wedding.

6. He disdained no man.APPLICATION. Oh that God would give us grace to preach fully, faithfully, wisely, lovingly this gospel in the spirit, and with the simplicity and abounding sympathy with which it was first preached in the cities and on the mountain slopes and by the lake shores of Galilee; and then I believe the people would be found pressing to hear it as they pressed then.

(Bishop Fraser.)

I. THE WORD OF GOD THAT IS NOW PREACHED AMONG US.

II. THE EXISTING URGENCY TO HEAR IT. Of diffusive religion we have abundance; a concentrative Christianity is what we require.

III. THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ITS FAVOURED, AND TOO OFTEN ITS FORGETFUL HEARERS. TWO great classes; those who know the revelation of the will of God through Christ as a mass of doctrines and commands demanding from our understandings a simple assent to their truth; and those who know it in such a sense and degree, as that it becomes the pervading principle of all their actions. Beware of the Christianity of the formalist. When rightly received, "the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword."

(W. A. Butler, M. A.)

One of the finest conceivable pictures presented in this verse — people pressing to hear the Word of God! They often pressed to. see Christ's miracles, and to listen to His parables, with more or less of mere curiosity; but in this case the motive was spiritual and pure. Why do people attend the sanctuary? To hear the word of man? Then will there be debate, opposition, doubt, or at best, admiration, fickle and selfish. The remedy is partly in the hands of ministers themselves. When they insist upon delivering the message of God without any admixture of human speculation, their spiritual reverence and earnestness may carry a holy contagion amongst the people. God's Word should always be supreme in God's house. "Them that honour Me, I will honour."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

It is the centre of the ministry of our Lord; it is not too much to say of it what Dean Stanley has said, "It is the most sacred sheet of water that the earth contains." The Rabbins say, "I have created seven seas, saith the Lord, but out of them I have chosen none but the sea of Gennesaret." In the day of our Lord, it was a scene of teeming life as well as the centre of a peculiarly hushed and hallowed solitude. No doubt, as compared with many quarters of the globe, it was secluded; but still its shores and its waves were the way of traffic. It was situated in the midst of the Jordan valley, or the great thoroughfare from Babylon and Damascus into Palestine; hence it was "the way of the sea beyond Jordan." Along its banks a wondrous vegetation spread, and full of especially beautiful birds and flowers and fruits. What a scene it must have presented — fishermen by hundreds on the Lake; in hamlets around the numerous shipbuilders; and the sails and boats of pleasure flying before the frequent gusts from the mountains. There was no other spot which would so instantly have been a conductor to the words of our Lord. There is a Divine providence in even the very spot itself. The dwellers of the Sea of Galilee were free from most of the strong prejudices which, in the south of Palestine, raised a bar to Christ's reception. There were the people of Zabulon and Nephthalim, by the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. They had sat in darkness; but for that very reason they saw more clearly the great light when it came to them in the region of the shadow of death. There He came, to that spot, to preach the gospel to the poor, the weary, and the heavy laden, to seek and to save that which was lost. Where could He find what He sought so readily as in the ceaseless turmoil of those busy waters and teeming villages? Roman soldiers, centurions quartered with their slaves; here, too, the palaces of the princes. Hardy boatmen, publicans, and tax-collectors sitting at the receipt of custom, women who were sinners from neighbouring Gentile cities and villages. Thus all was prepared to concentrate and give effect to the power of His teaching by the Lake.

(E. Paxton Hood.)

The Sea of Galilee is shaped like a pear, with a width at the broadest part of 6.75 miles, and a length of 121; miles; that is, it is about the same length as our own Windermere, but considerably broader, though in the clear air of Palestine it looks somewhat smaller. Nothing can exceed the bright clearness of the water, which it is delightful to watch as it runs in small waves over the shingle. Its taste, moreover, is sweet, except near the hot springs and at Tiberias, where it is polluted by the sewerage of the town. There is much more level ground on the eastern side than the western, yet the western side was always, in Bible times, much more thickly peopled by the Hebrews than the other; partly from the fact that "beyond Jordan" was almost a foreign country; partly because the land above the lake on the east was exposed to the Arabs; and in some measure also because it always had a large intermixture of heathen population.

(Geikie's "Holy Land and the Bible.")

The original population of the shores of the lake was Sidonian, and when Tyre and Sidon were founded on the shores of the Mediterranean they moved westward, but the town of Bethsidon still retained the name given it by its first inhabitants. The richest part of the shores was at the north-west, where is a luxuriant plain of half-moon shape, walled out from the north and west winds by mountains, and exposed to the sun. This was where the princes and the nobles had their country residences, and the gardens were filled with all kinds of flowers and fruit. The lake was called by its first colonists, Cenuereth, or the Harp, from its shape. The Jews thought so highly of its beauty that they said, "God created seven seas — but for Himself He elected but one, and that the Lake Gennesareth"; and again, "It is the Gate of Paradise." Josephus says, "It is a district where Nature seems to have constrained herself to create an eternal spring, and to gather into one spot the products of every one." To the present day the date-palm, citrons, pomegranate, indigo, rice, sugar-cane, grow there; cotton, balsams, vines, thrive; the purple grapes are as big as plums, and the bunches weigh twelve pounds. Here also the fig-tree yields her fruit throughout the year, ripening every month. The Jews call Gennesareth the Garden Lake, and if there were any place in Palestine that could recall the lost Paradise, it was this fruitful, beautiful tract, watered with its five streams. At Chammath, about two miles south of Tiberias, are hot springs, of old much used for baths, and half an hour's walk above Tiberias a cold spring of beautiful water bursts out of the mountain side, and pours down to the lake in five or six streams. At Tabigha also are hot springs, that gush streaming down into the blue waters of the lake. Now the neglect of mismanagement of the Turkish Government have led to the devastation of this beautiful corner of the world, and many of the foreign plants once introduced into it have died out, or are disappearing. We can only guess what a garden of delight it must have been in the time of our Lord, when the aqueducts were in working order, and canals carried water to all the gardens and fields.

(S. Baring-Gould, M. A.)

Let a man be a true preacher, really uttering the truth through his own personality, and it is strange how men will gather to listen to him. We hear that the day of the pulpit is past, and then some morning the voice of a true preacher is heard in the land, and all the streets are full of men crowding to hear him, just exactly as were the streets of Constantinople when was going to preach at the Church of the Apostles, or the streets of London when Latimer was bravely telling the truth at St. Paul's.

(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)

The nameless and potent charm of intense personality cannot all go down into a dead book. Truth in personality is where the hidings of power are. We look in vain along the pages of Whitefield for the secret of his mighty effectiveness. We search the famous sermon of Edwards, and wonder what there was in it that moved men so. It was not the sermon on the printed page; it was the sermon in the living preacher. While men are men, a living man before living men will always be more than white paper and black ink. And therein will for evermore lie the supremest possibilities of pulpit power, which no competing press, however enterprising and ubiquitous, can rival. The Founder of Christianity made no mistake when He staked its triumphal progress down through all ages, and its victorious consummation at "the end of the "world," on "the foolishness of preaching." He chose the agency in full view of the marvels of these later centuries, and the pulpit is not therefore likely to be despoiled of its peculiar glory and made impotent to its work by any device born of the inventive genius of man.

(Dr. Herrick Johnson, of Chicago.)

I have seen in different countries some very wonderful pulpits, some of them exquisitely carved in stone or wood, some of them richly inlaid with the choicest mosaics, some of them illustrating scenes from the Bible. Perhaps the loveliest pulpit I have ever seen is in a place where you would least expect to find it. In Italy you often see places that are called Baptisteries — that is, places built specially for the baptism of children. In the old city of Pisa there is a most lovely Baptistery, and in it the most beautiful pulpit, which every one who sees greatly admires; but, strange to say, it cannot be used, because there is such a wonderful echo in the building that the preacher's voice could not be heard. If you speak quite softly in it you hear a sound as of a great choir right up in the roof, and so the pulpit can only be admired and not used. But the pulpit from which Christ preached on this occasion was a very simple one; it was not richly carved, nor beautifully decorated, nor of massive form. It was only a tiny boat resting upon the bosom of a lake.

(W. A. Herder.)

The form of the preaching of Jesus was essentially Jewish. The Oriental mind does not work in the same way as the mind of the West. Our thinking and speaking, when at their best, are fluent, expansive, closely reasoned. The kind of discourse which we admire is one which takes up an important subject, divides it out into different branches, treats it fully under each of the heads, closely articulates part to part, and closes with a moving appeal to the feelings, so as to sway the will to some practical result. The Oriental mind, on the contrary, loves to brood long on a single point, to turn it round and round, to gather up all the truth about it into a focus, and pour it forth in a few pointed and memorable words. It is concise, epigrammatic, oracular. A Western speaker's discourse is a systematic structure, or like a chain in which link is firmly knit to link; an Oriental's is like the sky at night, full of innumerable burning points shining forth from a dark background. Such was the form of the teaching of Jesus. It consisted of numerous sayings, every one of which contained the greatest possible amount of truth in the smallest possible compass, and was expressed in language so concise and pointed as to stick in the memory like an arrow. Read them, and you will find that every one of them, as you ponder it, sucks the mind in and in like a whirlpool, till it is lost in the depths. You will find, too, that there are very few of them which you do not know by heart. They have found their way into the memory of Christendom as no other words have done. Even before the meaning has been apprehended, the perfect, proverb-like expression lodges itself fast in the mind.

(James Stalker.)

I. The circumstance mentioned in the first verse of the text was A NATURAL CONSEQUENCE OF OUR LORD'S OFFICE AND CHARACTER. "The people pressed upon Him to hear the Word of God." Jesus Christ was "that Prophet which should come into the world." He brought down a message of mercy from heaven to earth; a message of pardon for the guilty, of life to the dead, and of salvation to those who were utterly and eternally lost. They were astonished at His doctrine; for He taught them as one having authority. They " pressed upon Him to hear the Word of God." And surely it is not too much for us to expect to witness a continuance of the same spirit. If God has indeed sent His Son and His servants to communicate an authentic revelation of His will to man, these teachers must be listened to by all who understand their own character and circumstances, and the great ends for which they live.

II. Such AN ATTENTION TO THE WORD OF GOD IS MATTER OF ABSOLUTE AND UNIVERSAL DUTY AND OBLIGATION. We are all bound to receive Divine instruction, and to receive it in the mode contemplated in the text. The law of Moses directed that, at stated seasons, there were to be holy convocations of the people; when they were to be collected in masses, to engage in holy duties, to enjoy holy delights, to receive holy light and power, and thereby to be filled for those high and holy ends for which they existed as a separate people. In the gospel, Christians are commanded not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. They are to "exhort one another." Along with these commands, there are "given unto us exceeding great and precious promises." "In all places where I record My name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee" (Exodus 20:24; Matthew 18:20). We are bound to give this attendance on the word and worship of God, because He requires it. We are bound to do this, because we ourselves have need of it. If the highest archangel in heaven were commanded to frequent religious assemblies, as a learner, and as a worshipper, he would not refuse. This was done by Him who has received "a name which is above every name." As the Mediator, Jesus Christ was subject to the Father; and He testified that subjection by a devout regard for His ordinances. He was a stated attendant on the services of the Temple. But we are not merely creatures: we are also sinners. We are not only subject to our Maker's authority; we need our Maker's mercy. If we would obtain His blessing, we must seek it in the way of His own appointment. In any other way He has not promised it; in any other way we have no right to expect it. It does not mean that the vulgar and illiterate must go to Church, but that men of science and literature are at liberty to stay away. A man may be as great a philosopher as Socrates or Plato; but then he is a creature and a sinner. He must therefore attend to his Creator's word; he must kneel at his Creator's feet. Neither can political rank at all free us from this great obligation. A man may be a lord, a duke, a king, or an emperor; yet he must imitate the example of Him who is Lord of lords, and King of kings. No man is excused on the ground of poverty and meanness. It may mortify him excessively to exhibit his rags before a large and respectable congregation; but Christ hath left us an example that we should tread in His steps. His piety and poverty were great and manifest. The plea of a high and refined spirituality of mind will be equally unavailing. It is useless to say, "I have no need to observe the mere forms of piety, since I enjoy its spirit and its power."

III. The men of bustle and business are sometimes disposed to look upon all this attendance on the Word of God AS SO MUCH LOST TIME, AND AN INCONVENIENT INTERFERENCE WITH THE CONCERNS OF LIFE. If such excuses could ever be seasonable, they might have been urged by the fishermen of Galilee, on the occasion referred to in the text. They had toiled all the night before, and caught nothing. They were now in the act of washing their nets, in order at the earliest opportunity to go to sea again and make another attempt. Several of them, it is probable, had families dependent on their industry and success. Under such circumstances they might have said, "Lord, we have no time to hear sermons now. It is impossible for us to comply with your request, and to spare our boat for preaching purposes at present. We must follow our employment, or our debts cannot be paid, nor our children's wants supplied." But not a word of objection or excuse was heard. What follows proves that in the end they suffered no loss. Know, therefore, that there is a providence; a blessing of the Lord which maketh rich.

IV. THE WORD OF GOD DESERVES TO BE IMPLICITLY BELIEVED AND OBEYED. We may always venture to carry out its instructions into practical effect in the face of every difficulty and discouragement. But Peter reasoned on a different principle, and came to a different conclusion. He called Jesus "Master," and was consistent with himself. Many of us talk like servants while we act like masters. We say, "Lord, Lord," but do not the things which He enjoins. But Peter understood his duty better. When the Master commands, the servant's business is, not to argue, but to obey.

V. THAT WORD DESERVES OUR ATTENTION ON ACCOUNT OF ITS POWER TO REACH AND CONTROL THE HUMAN HEART. The Author of the Bible knows what is in man. He can speak to the heart of His own creatures. His Word touches the hidden springs of thought and feeling, and thus turns us about whithersoever He will (Hebrews 4:12). Peter found this by experience. The sermon was heard, and such was the silent and secret but powerful effect of Divine truth upon his heart, that he saw his unutterable guilt and depravity as in the light of open day; and became so agitated with grief and terror, that, in the end, he fell down at Jesus' knees, exclaiming, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (ver. 8). You will soon be brought to the same temper, if you listen to the same Teacher.

VI. IT IS NOT INTENDED, HOWEVER, TO INTIMATE THAT THIS MATCHLESS WORD WILL INTRODUCE US TO A REST AND PEACE, WHICH IMPLIES AN EXEMPTION FROM WORLDLY CALAMITIES. When the disciples were favoured with the immediate presence of Christ, and were in the very act of receiving a miraculous blessing at His hands, we scarcely expected to hear anything of a broken net and a sinking boat. Yet both these inconveniences were experienced on this memorable occasion. The afflictions of a good man only tend to heighten his gratitude, by more abundant displays of the Divine faithfulness and love. It was wonderful that the net should be suffered to break; but it was more wonderful that, after this accident, the fishes were not lost. It was wonderful that the boat should be suffered to begin to sink; but it was more wonderful that, in such a state, they should all come safe to land. God often reduces His people to the last extremities, and then shows them His salvation. The vessel which bears the saints to glory is often in a leaky and sinking state. All hope of being saved is not unfrequently taken away. Yet, while they have an ear to hear, and a heart to obey, they continue to float.

VII. THE BENEFITS ARISING FROM. AN ATTENTION TO THE WORD OF GOD ARE NOT CONFINED TO OURSELVES; THEY EXTEND TO OTHERS. While attention to the Word of God teaches us the duty of instructing others, it also gives us the disposition to make the attempt. Piety and charity are inseparably connected.

(Samuel Jackson.)

Jesus as a preacher "drew." What was the attraction? He used no rhetorical device to produce an effect. His method was startling in its novelty. He did not follow the customs of His age. Though claiming to be a religious teacher, He did net adopt the conventional role of a priest or scribe. But to really appreciate the spirit of the Preacher we must understand His doctrine. The message He brought men made it imperative that His attitude towards them should be that of large-hearted sympathy. Now, there are some things I want you to see as the result of this exposition.

1. The first is that the gospel of Christ, when proclaimed in the proper spirit, never fails to touch the heart. In a sermon of Bishop Fraser's I read the following story: A well-known Anglican Bishop was announced to preach in a certain church. A tradesman in the parish, the leader of a set of Atheists, made up his mind to go and hear him. He listened attentively, and after the sermon he said to some one, "If that bishop had argued, I would have fought with him; but there was no arguing about him; he preached to us simply about the love of God, and that touched me." Let the gospel be preached with the simplicity and sympathy with which it was first preached in Galilee, and people will still be found pressing to hear.

2. The next thing I want you to see is, that the gospel and spirit of Christ are the powers that have been refining and elevating society ever since He lived and taught. Slowly, almost insensibly, the gospel has been making its way in society.

3. The last thing I want you to see is, that the gospel and spirit of Jesus alone have the power to make humanity noble and good. What a principle this is on which to base individual, social, and political life — God is the Father of all men and has given His Son to redeem them from death; all men are the sons of God, bound to obey Him with loving and filial spirit; each man owes to every other man the duties of a brother. Were that principle realized the happiness of the world would far surpass the dreams of the most ardent socialist. Getting rich by methods that injure others would be unknown.

(S. If. Hamilton, D. D.)

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