Luke 5:1-11

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

This story is about the recruitment of Jesus' followers. It is the most elaborate of the call stories in the gospel tradition and in my opinion it's the best one. This is a wonderful story of Jesus getting into Simon's boat and a miraculous catch of fish. Simon and his partners, James and John, are blown away and decide to follow Jesus. Jesus tells Simon that from now on he will be a "catcher of people." This story relates the first time in Simon Peter's life when he met Jesus, when his life forever was changed. It has the dynamic of the recognition of the one who would be Lord of his life, determining his future.

The place of this story in the overall Gospel story is different than in Mark. In Luke there is the initial preaching at Nazareth followed by stories of the man with an unclean spirit, Simon's mother-in-law and the sick of the village, Jesus' prayer and moving on. The call of the disciples follows the story about the Sabbath in Capernaum where Jesus is nearly killed. The verbal similarities between the two stories is an indication that Luke probably learned Mark's stories and then rearranged them in a different order. Luke also recast a significant number of them, including our call story, in which Andrew is not present.

In the background of Luke's story is the story of Elijah calling Elisha in 1 Kings 20. Elijah threw his mantle over Elisha while he was plowing. Elisha immediately recognized what that meant. He said, "Let me go tell my parents and I'll follow you." He sacrificed the oxen that were pulling his plow, and gave the plow away. He left everything and followed Elijah. This happened immediately after Elijah's encounter with God at Mount Horeb.

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