Summary: An analysis of Jesus' calling of his first disciples will teach us what characterizes a true disciple of Jesus.
Luke wants his readers to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. He wants us to know who Jesus is. That is why gives us so many clear facts about Jesus’ life and ministry. He tells us about the miraculous conception of Jesus, and that he is a descendant of David. Jesus teaches with authority. He heals people of demons and diseases in order to demonstrate his unique power. Luke wants us to know for sure that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of sinners.
Luke tells us all of these things so that we will follow Jesus as our Lord and our God. He wants each one of us to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. As soon as we know for sure that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of sinners, we must follow him, which is what it means to be a disciple. A disciple follows Jesus wholeheartedly. That is what it means to be a true disciple.
To help us make a commitment to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, Luke tells us about Jesus’ calling of his first disciples in Luke 5:1-11.
An analysis of Jesus’ calling of his first disciples in Luke 5:1-11 will teach us what characterizes a true disciple of Jesus.
I. A True Disciple Listens to Jesus (5:1-3)
First, a true disciple listens to Jesus.
By the time that Jesus called his first disciples as recorded in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus had already been preaching for over a year. By this time he had become an extremely popular preacher, and great crowds of people thronged to hear him.
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret (5:1). Commentator William Barclay says, “The famous sheet of water in Galilee is called by three names—the Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberias and the Lake of Gennesaret. It is thirteen miles long by eight miles wide. It lies in a dip in the earth’s surface and is 680 feet below sea level. That fact gives it an almost tropical climate. Nowadays it is not very populous but in the days of Jesus it had nine townships clustered round its shores, none of fewer than 15,000 people.”
Luke said that the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear the word of God. Jesus had come primarily as a preacher, and he was proclaiming to them the word of God.
But, it was difficult for everyone to hear Jesus. So, he looked around him, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat (5:2-3).
Becoming a true disciple of Jesus always begins with listening to Jesus. For the people in that region, it meant going to listen to Jesus on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret.
For us, listening to Jesus means exposure to his words in the Bible. It means that we must study the Bible, on our own and with other believers. It means that we must listen to the reading of God’s word in the worship service. It means that we must listen to sound, faithful preaching of God’s word. The Bible says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).