After already visiting Simon’s house, Jesus finally gets around to calling him as a disciple. Luke tells us that Jesus was besieged by followers, so he goes to Simon and asks to be taken out in his boat. Once on the water, he preaches to his followers, then tells Simon to go to a particular part of the lake and drop his nets. Simon tells Jesus they’ve already tried there without success but does as he’s told and catches so many fish, his nets start to break. He has to call his fellow fishermen to bring their nets. Simon tells Jesus to leave him because he’s unworthy to be in Jesus’s presence but instead Jesus tells Simon and his associates, James and John, the sons of Zeb’edee, that they’re now fishers of men. They head to shore and leave their boats to follow him.
Cleansing a Leper
Luke takes on some of Mark’s specificity when he relates that while Jesus was in “one of the cities” a leper came to him asking to be cleansed. Jesus simply touches him and says, “Okay, you’re cleansed.” No fuss, no bother. As with the accounts in Mark and Matthew, Jesus counsels the man not to tell anyone but to show himself to the high priest and make the appropriate sacrifice at the Temple. Nonetheless, word of Jesus spreads, so crowds seek him out. Luke says Jesus instead withdraws to the wilderness to pray.
Healing a Paralyzed Man
Luke relates the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man and more closely mirrors Mark than Matthew. Luke focuses more on the Pharisees and Scribes than Mark, stating that they came from throughout Galilee to hear Jesus, while Mark simply mentions they’re in the crowd calling him out after Jesus forgives the man’s sins. In Luke’s account, Jesus meets his accusers in the same manner as the others:
When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.”Luke 5:22-24
Levi, Not Matthew
Reinforcing the idea that Matthew intended his audience to believe his account was from the tax collector called by Yeshua, Luke echoes Mark in naming this individual Levi and not Matthew. Beyond that, the account doesn’t change much. Jesus tells Levi to follow him and Levi does. This leads to the feast at Levi’s, where Jesus is called to task for dining with sinners, which he answers with “Those who are well have no need for a doctor.” He further states he’s not there for the righteous, but to call sinners to repent.
To Fast or Not to Fast
Luke 5 concludes with some unidentified individuals, presumably the Scribes and Pharisees, asking why Jesus’s followers don’t fast. As in the other Gospels, this leads to the first mention of the bridegroom. Jesus basically echoes Mark here, stating that one doesn’t put an old patch on new clothes or new wine into old skins.