Verses 1-11 describe the call of Simon, Peter, James, and John.
There are several important lessons in this portion.
1. The Lord used Peter’s boat as a pulpit from which to teach the people. Then He rewarded him with a great catch of fish.
2. Peter and his partners had toiled all night and caught nothing. Self-directed service is futile. The secret of success in Christian work is to be guided by Christ.
3. Notice Peter’s obedience. “At thy word I will let down the net.” The Lord rewarded him by giving such a great harvest that the nets broke. The boat could not contain the fish so they beckoned to their partners to come and help them. There was such an abundance of fish that both the boats began to sink.
Note the reaction of Peter in verse 8. “Depart from me” etc. The vision of the glory of God produced in Peter a sense of his own unworthiness.
It was so with Job. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Isaiah saw the glory of God, and cried out, “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.”
Every true servant of God has seen the glory of God, and realized his unworthiness.
The result of this encounter with Christ was that he was commissioned and called to leave off catching fish, and henceforth catch men. Nothing in this world can be compared with the incomparable privilege of leading a soul to Christ.
Verses 12-15 is the story of the healing of the leper.
Note that Dr Luke says that he was “full of leprosy.” He was in an advanced state, and hopeless humanly speaking. The leper had absolute confidence in Christ’s ability to heal. Verse 12. But he wondered if it was His will. “If thou wilt.”
Similarly Christians should recognize Christ’s power to heal, but should always pray, “If Thou wilt.”
Paul prayed three times for the removal of his thorn in the flesh. But it was not God’s will to remove it.
The Lord prayed, “Not my will but Thine be done.”
Verse 13 To touch a leper was dangerous medically - defiling religiously - degrading socially. The leprosy fled at His touch - immediately he was made clean.
Verse 14 The man was commanded to show himself to the priest. This was possibly the first healed leper the priests had ever seen. This should have alerted them that the Messiah was among them, but their hearts were blinded by unbelief.
Verses 16-26 A paralyzed man healed.
Notice the prelude to this marvelous miracle. “And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed.” The secret and source of power is prayer.
As the fame of Jesus spread, the hostility of the rulers increased.
See Verse 17. Describe the incident.
When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the palsied man, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” This caused a controversy. Verse 21.
Why did the Lord say that it was easier to say, “Thy sins be forgiven you” than “Arise and walk?”
In one sense it is just as easy to say one as the other. The point here is that it is easier to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” because humanly speaking there is no way of telling if it has happened. If you say “Rise up and walk” then it is easy to see if the patient is healed. To prove that He had forgiven the man’s sins, He gave the paralytic the power to walk.
In healing the man He was proving His Deity. He said, “Arise take up your couch, and go into thine house” Verse 24.
Verse 25 He rose up, picked up his bed and went home glorifying God. The crowd was amazed, and they too glorified God. They acknowledged that they had seen incredible things. The pronouncing of forgiveness of sins and a miraculous miracle to prove it.
Verses 27-28 The call of Levi.
Levi was a tax-collector. One day Jesus passed his office, and invited him to become His follower. Levi or Matthew immediately forsook all and followed Jesus.
Apply the call of Jesus to the audience.
Verses 29-39. The feast of Levi.
Three possible reasons for arranging this feast.
1. He wanted to honor the Lord.
2. He wanted to witness publicly to his new allegiance.
3. He wanted to introduce his old friends to Christ.
The Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus for eating with sinners. The reply of Jesus is a classic. See Verse 31-32. Sick people need a doctor - healthy people don’t.
In so saying Jesus said, “My actions are in accord with My purpose in coming into the world.”
They also interrogated Jesus on the custom of fasting. They said John the Baptist fasted - his disciples also. Jesus replied that there was no reason for His disciples to fast while He was still with them. The time would come, after He was taken forcibly from them, then they would fast.
The three parables that follow teach that a new dispensation had begun, and there could be no mixing of the old and the new.
In the first parable the old garment speaks of the law. The new garment speaks of grace. The two can’t possibly mix.
The second parable teaches us the folly of putting new wine into old skins. They will burst. The joy of the Lord as pictured in the new wine, cannot be contained in the old outmoded forms and ordinances of Judaism.
The final parable says that no man having drunk of old wine will drink new wine. He says, “the old is good enough.” This reflected on the reluctance of the religious Jews to forsake Judaism for Christianity.