The climax of Peters call to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus took place in the events recorded in Lukes Gospel chapter five. Following the bidding of the Lord to "Launch out into the deep", and the miraculous landing of such a large catch after his earlier futile attempts, he is driven to declare, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (v.8). This was not, however, the end of His service for the Master! The call of the Lord, "From henceforth thou shalt catch men" (v.10), was clear. Such a call rings down through the ages and through our minds. In what way have we served Him since first we heard His call, "from henceforth"? In what way do we intend to serve, as again, today, we hear His call, "from henceforth, thou shalt "?
Three incidents which follow teach us lessons. The first (vv.12-15) is the case of a leper who came to the Lord with the request: "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean". It is of interest to note the knowledge that this man had. He had no doubt that the Lord was able to cure his leprosy. He did not doubt His power, but the point at issue was whether the Lord was willing to cure Him. Would he be regarded as unfit for the healing he so desired? Had the disease ravaged him so much that he was not fit to come so close to the Lord? Or was he too insignificant?
With this request the Lord cured him. What a change! The pain, anguish, agony, fear, embarrassment and rejection were gone. Having fallen at the feet of the Saviour he now stands cleansed. But what was he to do "from henceforth"? The Lord gives the answer. First, the man has to go to the priest and offer for his cleansing. In this way it can be seen that his condition now allows himself to worship.
After a time in the wilderness (vv.16-17) the Lord Jesus has brought to Him a man unable to walk (vv.18-26). His condition was such that he had to be let down through the rooftop. The Lord initially deals with the great issue that beset the man - that of his sins. These were forgiven, but this did not please the Pharisees. Proof of the work of forgiveness and salvation in our souls is the difference that can be seen in our lives. "Walking" in Scripture is used to describe our manner of life (Rom 6.4; 8.1; 13.13; 1 Cor 3.3 etc). This man, whose sins had been forgiven, could now walk. What has he to do "from henceforth"? His walk, glorifying God, would publicly display the great change that had come over him as a result of the work of the Lord.
Now the Lord turns His attention to Matthew the tax gatherer. There is no question of physical disease and the Lord uses the clear yet simple words, "Follow me". This he did and was able to fill his house with a great number of friends. What a story he had to tell them - he, the tax gatherer, was about to leave his calling, having heard a greater call. The man full of leprosy and the man stricken with palsy came to the Lord, but with Matthew the Lord came to him. There is no note in the Gospels of the Lord having met Matthew on any previous occasion, but it is clear that the Lord knew of him and that Matthew knew of the Lord and had heard of His words and His works. News of the paralysed man now walking would have come to Matthew, and when the Lord passed and called him he followed unhesitatingly. But what does he do "from henceforth"? This tax gatherer could now witness. Matthew arranged that a great feast, with the Lord Jesus present, was to be made in his house where publicans and others could learn of his call by the Master. He did not hide that he was now a follower of the One whom the scribes and Pharisees despised. The Lord had shown that He had come, "not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (v.32).
So by our worship, our walk and our witness we can follow the pathway set out so graphically by the Lord in this chapter. The question for all is clear: How have we responded to Him; how have we determined to serve Him "from henceforth"?