Anointed and baptised, Jesus has begun His mission of proclaiming and enacting the year of release and begins to call others to share His mission (5:1-11).
A major theme of this section is the disciples inclusion in Jesus’ mission. Jesus is calling forth a New Nation. He is beginning to establish the Church, a New Israel within Israel.
In the Bible, the land represents Israel, and the sea frequently represents the nations (Psalm 65:7-8; Isaiah 5:30). The fact that Jesus selects fishermen to lead His church, and uses fishing metaphors to describe their ministry highlights the fact that, following the examples of Elijah and Elisha, they will be sent to the Gentiles.
So, Jesus leads by example in order to reveal what, through Him, they will become – what it will mean to be His Disciple.
The section begins with Jesus teaching the crowds from the boat and ends with a miraculous catch of fish and the gathering of the first disciples. These disciples will be marked by a teachable disposition, aware of their own fragility, yet willing to step out in obedient faith, regardless of the prevailing tide. Jesus is patient. Rather than pitch Peter overboard for his half-hearted obedience, Jesus performs the miracle anyway.
In the next three incidents, Jesus’ power to cleanse, forgive and restore are further illustrated. First, He heals leprosy, a form of uncleanness that kept you from worship in the lord’s house and excluded you from society.
Second, Jesus heals a paralytic, and says that the miracle demonstrates His authority to forgive sins. Thirdly, Jesus calls Levi, a tax collector and in the next scene we see Levi with his tax collecting friends all reclining at the table with Jesus. Eating with Levi is an act of restoration. He is redeeming the outcast by placing Him in a new community.
Jesus has not come to add a patch here and there to humanity. Jesus has come with New garments and New wine but not everybody is happy about the change (Isaiah 61:10-11). These elements speak of a righteousness from God and a renewal and restoration through participation in a New Covenant.
Unfortunately, many are so attached to yesterdays bread that they will not enter in and enjoy the feast Jesus has prepared.
Lessons for Little Saints…
What does Jesus’ miraculous catch of fish tell us about Him?
Why does Peter ask Jesus to go away?
How does Levi celebrate with Jesus?
Why are the Pharisees unhappy?