Luke 5The Lake of Gennesaret, or Sea of Galilee, was about seventeen miles long and six broad, and was surrounded by a beautiful and romantic country, which was inhabited by a simple-minded people. The whole region has become sacred, as the scene of our Savior's childhood and youth, and of his early public ministrations. His labors in this secluded province, sometimes among the fishermen upon the shores of the lake, and sometimes in the villages, or in the solitudes of the neighboring mountains, contrast strongly with the more public and exciting scenes of the closing year of his life, among the crowds and imposing magnificence of Jerusalem.
Two ships, &c.; what would now be called fishing boats; they appear to have been drawn up upon the sand.
Simon's. This was Simon Peter. His residence was Bethsaida.—That he would thrust out a little, &c.; so that he might be relieved from the pressure of the crowd, and address them as they stood upon the shore.
Brake; that is, began to break in some places.
Began to sink; to sink near to the water's edge, so as to be in danger of being overturned.
Depart from me. This was only an expression of humility and self-abasement. Peter, far from desiring to be separated from Christ, left all, and followed him.
We are not to suppose that these words are all that was said. They express the substance of what was, perhaps, a long conversation.
This city was Capernaum, according to Mark, (2:1,)—a city where Jesus was then residing, (Matt. 9:1,) having removed from Nazareth, (Matt. 4:13,) to be safe from Herod Antipas.—Leprosy. In order to prevent the spread of this dreadful disease by contagion, those afflicted with it were subjected to great restrictions and privations,—being cut off, in a great measure, from direct intercourse with others, and thus rendered wretched and almost hopeless outcasts from society. The directions in regard to their examination by the priests, and the rules and restrictions which they were to observe, are given in Lev. ch. 13 and 14.—Fell on his face; that is, prostrated himself before him.
Show thyself to the priest, &c. The directions in respect to the ceremonies to be performed by such lepers as should recover from the disease, in order to relieve them from their disabilities and restrictions, and restore them to their standing in society, are given in Lev. 14:1-32. From among the great number of miracles which Jesus performed at this time, it seems to have been only those which had something marked to distinguish them, that were particularly recorded. The distinguishing circumstance in this case, perhaps, was, that the disease was the leprosy.
Out of every town, &c.; that is, from many towns,—from all parts of the country.
The construction of the ancient houses was very different from that of ours. They were made with flat roofs, and sometimes with a court in the middle, partly or wholly uncovered.
The meaning is this: Is not divine power required as truly to heal the sick by a miracle as to forgive sin?
Levi is supposed to be another name for Matthew. (See Matt. 9:9.) He was a collector of the customs, or duties, at this port, on the lake. The practice was for men of property to pay a specific sum to the government for the right to collect a certain tax or custom. Then, in collecting the tax, they employed subordinate officers of various grades. By this system the government realized the money at once, and were saved all attention to details; and the contractor made a profit, as the sum which he paid was less than the expected proceeds of the tax. But the people suffered, as the system exposed them to cruel extortions from unprincipled and interested collectors of the tax. From the nature of the business, the most rough and unfeeling men would be most efficient and successful in it; the publicans were consequently taken from the most degraded classes of society, and were objects of general detestation.
Levi appears to have been a man of standing and consideration among his class.
Their scribes, &c.; the scribes and Pharisees of the place.—Eat and drink with, &c.; associate with.
Nothing can excel the conciseness, point, and absolute conclusiveness of the Savior's replies to the Pharisaic cavils.
The children of the bride-chamber; the guests and friends at a bridal party.
That is, when Jesus, whom he had in the verse before represented as a bridegroom, shall be taken away from his disciples.
The new cloth referred to was such as would shrink and draw the edges of the old material, so as very soon to produce a worse rent than it was intended to repair.
Bottles; made of leather, which, when old, were rigid and unyielding, and easily burst by the fermenting of new wine. Both these examples are intended as only striking cases of incongruity and unfitness, to give point and emphasis to the declaration of the unsuitableness of fasting and mourning under the circumstances in which the Savior and his disciples were placed. We are not to press the details of the similitude so far as to attempt to find any thing in the previous discourse corresponding to the two kinds of wine or cloth, or to the bottles.
The meaning which Jesus intended to convey by this remark is not understood.
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