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The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – The Gathering of Disciples (5:1-6:16)
The Gathering of Disciples (5:1-6:16)

Jesus' gathering of disciples was not unusual in his time and Jewish setting. Many rabbis would gather students around them to teach Torah. But the kind of disciples Jesus gathers is unusual—they are not theological professionals. Fishermen, tax collectors, former revolutionaries and just plain old sinners make up this new community. Jesus launches them on a journey with God, a walk in which God begins to work in their lives. The lesson is that we need not be perfect to come to God; rather, we need to trust God and let him do his gracious work in transforming our lives.

The various "call scenes" that appear in this section underline the nature of the new community (5:1-11, 27-39; 6:12-16). It does not shun sinners, but invites them to come and meet God and his healing forgiveness. Even the miracles of this section show how much Jesus identifies with those he gathers to himself. These unusual events underline the authority he has in creating this new band of followers (5:12-16, 17-26; 6:1-5, 6-11).

The gathering of this unorthodox group of followers and the practices they engage in heighten opposition. Jesus' ways are not the ways of the Jewish leadership, nor are they the ways of a self-righteous elitism. He attracts those who know that they need God and that Jesus has the authority to forgive their sin (5:24, 31-32).

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