Orthodox Daily Devotional for September 23-29
Luke 5:1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they]forsook all and followed Him.
COMMENTARY FROM VENERABLE BEDE…
Now mystically, the two ships represent circumcision and uncircumcision. The Lord sees these, because in each people He knows who are His, and by seeing, i. e. by a merciful visitation, He brings them nearer the tranquillity of the life to come. The fishermen are the doctors of the Church, because by the net of faith they catch us, and bring us as it were ashore to the land of the living. But these nets are at one time spread out for catching fish, at another washed and folded up. For every time is not fitted for teaching, but at one time the teacher must speak with the tongue, and at another time we must discipline ourselves. The ship of Simon is the primitive Church, of which St. Paul says, He that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of circumcision. (Gal. 2:8.) The ship is well called one, for in the multitude of believers there was one heart and one soul.
**St Theophylact commentary continues…
For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias ’ sake, Ins brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe: and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. Mark here gives parenthetically the account of John’s death, making use of the opportunity. Some say that Herod stole Herodias away while Philip was still living, and on this account they reprove him as a transgressor of the law, marrying the wife of his brother who was still living. Others say that Philip had died, but had left a daughter. As there was a daughter, Herod ought not to have married the wife of his brother, not even after his death. For the law at that time commanded a man to take his brother’s wife when there was no child; but here there was a daughter, and therefore Herod’s marriage to Herodias was unlawful. See how strong is erotic frenzy, that even Herod, who had such reverence and fear of John, would now abandon him just to do the bidding of debauchery.
v21 And a convenient day was come, when Herod on his birthday made a supper for his lords, high captains, and chief men of Galilee; and when the daughter of this Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he made an oath unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, 1 will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for the sake of those who sat at table with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison. And brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
Commentary on the Beheading of John…
A drinking party is convened. Satan dances by means of the young girl. An unlawful and ungodly and indeed mindless oath is sworn. And the wicked woman says, “Give me at once, at this very hour.” And the mindless Herod, driven by lust, is afraid of his oath, and for this reason slays the righteous man. But in this case he ought to have broken his oath, rather than commit such an abomination. For it is not always good to keep one’s oath.7 These things may also be understood in a spiritual sense. Herod represents the fleshly and superficial Jewish people.8 He married this woman, false and shameless glory, and even today her daughter, erroneous knowledge of the Scriptures, dances and moves among the Jewish people, beguiling them. For they think that they know the Scriptures, but they do not. For they decapitated John, the speaker of prophecy, not accepting the head of all |jj prophecy, Christ. Though they have the word the prophets, they possess the word without its head, which is Christ.
v 33 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by boat privately. And the people saw them departing, and many recognized Him, and ran afoot thither out of all the cities, and arrived first, and came together unto Him. After the apostles had preached, they gathered together unto Jesus, so that we too may learn, when we have been sent forth to serve in some manner, not to run heedlessly like a horse that has bolted, disregarding the One Who sent us, but to know Him as the Master and to return to Him, to tell Him all that we have both done and taught. For we must do, as well as teach. Christ gives rest to His disciples, so that those with authority in the Church again might learn to allow rest for those who toil in preaching the word and in teaching, and not continuously to keep them at their labors. They withdraw into a desert place to avoid vainglory, yet not even there arc iTicy able to escape the attention oi those seeking the Lord. Lor ihe multitude made such haste lest He escape hum them, that they even arrived first at the place where Jesus intended to give rest to the disciples. So also must you, O reader, anticipate Jesus, not waiting for Him to call you, but run on ahead so that you yourself arrive there before He does.
34-40. And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and He began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, His disciples came unto Him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto Him, shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes, And He commanded them to make all sit down in groups upon the green grass. And they sat down in sections, by hundreds, and by fifties. The Pharisees, in truth ravening wolves, were not shepherding the people, but devouring them. This is why the people left them and gathered together unto Christ the true Shepherd, Who gave them food: first, the food which is more beneficial and precious than all else, His words of teaching, and then He gave them food for the body as well. See what strides the disciples are making in acquiring compassion for others. For they took pity on the multitude, and then approached Christ to ask on their behalf. But the Lord tests them to see if the disciples have realized His power to feed the multitude, and says, “Give ye them to eat.” But they reproach Him as if He did not understand how great was their poverty, and the size of the crowd. For they said, somewhat bitterly, “Shall we, go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?” In the end He bids all the people to recline on the grass in groups, for this, is the meaning of [the Greek word] symposiai, which signifies the separate groups of invited guests around each table. “And they sat down in sections,” that is, in various divisions, for [the Greek word] prasiai means the various plots of a garden, in each of which a different vegetable is grown.
And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, lie looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided He among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men. He looks up to heaven, both to teach us to ask for our food from God, and not from the devil, which is done by those who seek their food by unrighteous means; and also to show the multitude that so far from being opposed to God [as the Pharisees claimed], He calls upon God. He gives to the disciples, so that by holding the loaves in their own hands, they will not forget the miracle. There are twelve baskets left over for the same reason, so that after each disciple had lifted a basketful on his shoulder, he would remember the miracle. An abundance of His power is displayed: not only are so many fed, but food is even left over. For if Moses gave manna, it was according to each one’s need. And what was left over produced worms.9 And Elijah fed the widow, but provided only what sufficed.10 11 But Jesus, as Lord and Master, provides an overabundance. This is the meaning of the literal account. But the spiritual meaning is this: the five loaves signify the five books of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus’, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The two fish signify the two; teachings of the fishermen: the Epistle Book and the Gospel Book.11 By these are nourished our five senses, signified by the five thousand. Buf we are not able to eat it all,-and there is much left over, which the apostles,; though, are able to grasp.-For we who are enslaved by the five senses cannot grasp the more difficult thoughts of the law and the Gospel, but the apostles can.