Luke 5-6
(Blessed are the Fishers of Men)
October 23rd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to the Bible version of your choice to read this section. For your convenience, links are provided below that take you directly to these chapters in multiple versions

Luke 5-6 (King James Version - KJV)
Luke 5-6 (New Revised Standard Version - NRSV)
Luke 5-6 (New International Version - NIV)
Luke 5-6 (The Message - MSG)

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Luke 5 (New American Bible - NAB) (click the "next chapter" link on the site for chapter 6)

British Bible Society
Luke 5 (Good News Bible - GNB) (click "Next" for chapter 6)

Key Verse

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

- Luke 5:10b (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

Chapters 5 and 6 record some of the miracles and teaching of Jesus. The first is a bounty of fish on a day when the experts could not catch anything. Simon didn’t understand how the nets were going to be filled, but he obeyed anyway.

Some of these stories are ones that are familiar to readers of the first two Gospels, but Luke makes at least one observation that we might have overlooked in the previous Gospels. In two different occasions within these two chapters he notes how Jesus withdrew to pray:

In chapter 5, Jesus had been healing and telling people not to spread the word about him, but they kept talking and more people kept coming, consequently "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16 - NIV).”

In chapter 6, Luke begins one section with the words, “On one of those days, Jesus went to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God (Luke 6:12 - NIV).” He then selected the twelve who would be his disciples.

Subsequently, he delivered a series of sermons that correspond with the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew. He begins with the Beatitudes and discusses loving our enemies, withholding criticism, and building our lives on the Word instead of things of this world:

    "But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
      What you have is all you’ll ever get."

    "And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
      Your self will not satisfy you for long.
    And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.
      There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it."

    “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular."

    - Luke 6:24-26 (MSG)

Reflection and Application

In one case Jesus prayed after healing many people, as if this was his holiday from work, a time when he could be restored. In other cases recorded in these two chapters, he prayed in advance of making a major decision. For example, Jesus went to a mountain to pray when he was about to select his management team. He was going to pick the guys that would carry on his ministry after he left - which would be sooner than the disciples realized, so it was a relatively important decision, and certainly one worthy of consultation with the Father.

It’s interesting to note that this particular prayer session was an all-nighter, as recorded by Luke. Why did this take so long? Did it take time to deliberate on who the best twelve would be? Did he and the Father review the pluses and minuses of each particular candidate? A modern recruiter might have observed that Simon (Peter) for example, had a tendency to be impulsive and overly emotional, as we saw in chapter 5 (“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" -Luke 5:8 - NIV). Was Jesus worried about including Judas? Here was a man whose ambition and personal objectives would overrule his loyalty to Jesus and the team. Was he concerned that nobody was really fit for the job – and based on the story of what happens shortly afterwards it certainly seems the case.

Or maybe, the selection process was immediate, and he spent the rest of the night in prayer giving thanks for these men and for the goodness of God.

We can never spend too much time in prayer. Like Jesus, we can find it to be a good time of solace after a long work period, and we can also find it to be a good reflective time in advance of making major decisions. When we find ourselves in either of these situations we ought to stop, drop, and pray as Jesus did and then do what he tells us. Notice the reaction of Matthew, as recorded by Luke, when Jesus called him. He dropped everything and then threw a party!

    After this (the healing of the paralyzed man in the crowded house), Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

    Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

    Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

    - Luke 5:27-32 (MSG)

Matthew's behavior was in stark contrast to the rich man described in the Gospels who is reluctant to give everything up to follow Jesus. Luke wrote that Matthew gave up everything and followed Jesus. Matthew would have had difficulty getting back into the tax business after quitting so suddenly but he had no concerns or regrets. By comparison, the anonymous rich man walked away disappointed because he would not let go of his material possessions, but the one who gave it all away was full of joy. Go figure.

Meanwhile, the Pharisees played their role of the party poopers because they did not like the idea of sharing the Grace and Redemption offered by God. Jesus tried to change their attitude but their hearts only became harder. When Jesus or a good friend corrects us we should accept the advice with an open mind and not let our hearts become so hard that we cannot embrace the Grace.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the most number of fish that you have caught in a single day?
    2. For what type of decisions do you consult God in prayer?
    3. What do you think were the attributes of the twelve disciples that Jesus liked?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we know you do extraordinary work with ordinary people. Help us to be extraordinary for you.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Tax Collectors

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Luke 7-8 (Extraordinary Healing and Extraordinary Faith)

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