Luke 5 • Different Responses to Christ


Luke 5 contains 4 examples of Christ’s mission as Savior and various responses to Him. Let’s look at each, paying attention to Christ’s interaction with people at various stages of acceptance/rejection of Him and their response.

Read verses 1-11

Q: Was this the first time that Jesus met Peter?

A: According to John 1, Peter had been following Jesus’ activities for quite some time. It would still be quite awhile before he would be set apart as an Apostle. In the last chapter, Jesus was at Peter’s house where He healed Peter’s mother-in-law. So this is not their first meeting.

Q: According to v.5, what was the first step on Peter’s part?

A: “I will do as you say.” His initial step was a step of faith.

Q: Peter had heard Jesus teach many times, had seen many miracles – even witnessed his own mother-in-law healed – yet in v.8 what did it take for Peter’s breakthrough?

A: Realization of who Peter is in relation to the Savior: “I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

Q: Did Jesus’ work end with getting Peter to recognize the need for a Savior?

A: Not just called to repentance but called to the Kingdom of God – “from now on you will be catching men.”

Q: What was the final result of Peter’s personal encounter with Christ?

A: “They left everything and followed Him.”

Point: Taking the Savior at His word they left their former life to be discipled into a greater life in the kingdom of God to eventually preach the gospel. They were familiar with Christ (they “went to church”, so to speak), but their heart and life was never changed until they took a step of faith, realized the need for a Savior, and left the former life never to return to it.

Read verses 12-14

Q: What was the first step on the leper’s part?

A: Coming to Jesus in faith – “if You are willing”.

Q: What is the significance of going to a priest to show oneself to be clean?

A: Christ was adhering to the OT law that (A) such a miracle needed to be confirmed by a priest, and (B) such confirmation also denoted that God had absolved that person’s sin. The healing was an external sign of the internal work of forgiveness. It would be as much a testimony about the forgiveness of sin as the working of a miracle.

Point: Remember the OT examples (such as Miriam and Aaron) where God struck people with leprosy as a sign of their uncleanness or unholiness. Leprosy is a symbol of sin.

Q: Why didn’t Jesus ask the leper to immediately follow Him ?

A: This work of salvation was immediately visible as a testimony to others.

Point: The work of salvation in the leper’s life produced an immediate change that empowered him to instantly begin spreading the gospel.

Read verses 17-26

Q: According to v.17 what power was present at that time?

A: “To perform healing.”

Q: So why didn’t Jesus immediately heal the man if the power of healing was present?

A: Forgiveness of sin is eternal healing; physical healing is only temporary for the life span of the individual. The greater work was forgiveness and, in reality, the greater “sign” to those present than healing the body.

Q: Who did the scribes and Pharisees recognize as the only authority who could forgive sins?

A: God. The implication being that “anyone” could perform a miracle (remember Pharaoh’s magicians?) but only God could forgive sins. Forgiveness, therefore, is a much greater “sign” of heavenly power and authority than a visible miracle. (Note in 1 Corinthians 12:28 that the gift of teaching is GREATER than EITHER the gifts of miracles or healings.)

Q: So what is Jesus’ stated purpose in v.24 for healing the paralytic?

A: “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….”

Q: To whom, therefore, did Jesus clearly prove His authority and authenticity as the Messiah?

A: Everyone present: The scribes and Pharisees, the paralytic and his friends, His disciples, and all the people present. This was a plain way of stating to the authorities present, “Yes, I AM the Messiah.”

Q: Why didn’t everyone present accept Christ as their personal Savior?

A: Unlike Peter, some refused to recognize themselves as sinners in the shadow of the Savior. Unlike the leper, some did not present themselves to the Savior as someone unclean needing to be cleansed. They saw and heard but everyone did not obey or submit. It’s the difference between “admiring” Christ and “accepting” Christ.

Read verses 27-28

Q: What sign did Jesus perform for Levi?

A: None. He took Jesus as His word.

Q: Was the end result different for Levi (Matthew) than in the previous examples?

A: No. All had to take a step of faith, all had to recognize themselves as a sinner in the presence of the Savior, all had to make a decision whether or not to follow Him.

Point: Christ uses various means for different individuals to achieve the same results of salvation. (This is Paul’s declaration “I’ve become all things to all men that I might win them” in action in the example of Jesus’ life.)

Read verses 29-32

Q: What is Christ’s purpose?

A: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (v.32)

Q: Did Jesus instill this work in others or was it just His unique message alone?

A: It was the work of John the Baptist, conveyed to everyone Jesus called, and the message that soon the Apostles and disciples would personally preach when they were sent out in pairs.

Q: Consider the work of your personal spiritual life and that of your local church as a whole. Are you/we focusing more on the sinner or the righteous? Why/why not?

A: [Obviously a group discussion or personal examination.]

Read verses 36-39

Q: There are many applications of this parable – the contrast of the old covenant with the new, the contrast of the Pharisees with Jesus’ followers, etc. – but what are some applications for us personally and our local church as a whole?

A: Among others, that to change our focus away from the righteous to the call of the sinner will require new ways that may not be 100% compatible with our old ways. [Group leader should sit closest to the door in case they need to make a run for it. ;-)]

NOTE: What do you make of the fact that NONE of these encounters took place in a synagogue, i.e., a “church” setting?