Authorized Version Translation:
1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
1901 ASV Translation:
1 Now it came to pass, while the multitude pressed upon him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;
2 and he saw two boats standing by the lake: but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3 And he entered 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 out of the boat.
I. The Setting.
A. The "crowd" was "imposing" and "hearing".
1. The crowd was typical "crowd-like" -- thoughtless in its "imposition" of itself upon Jesus...the "we want what we want" mentality that gives little to no thought of the rightness, or legitimacy, of its behavior.
2. Jesus was teaching the Word of God -- as per His calling (4:43) -- and in the crazy mixed-up world of people treating others godlessly while seeking to hear from God, the crowd was making His effort difficult.
B. Jesus had deliberately moved to the shore of Gennesaret.
C. Jesus commandeered one of the idle boats so that He could teach with some freedom from the crowd's thoughtlessness.
II. Luke's Focus.
A. He focuses upon Jesus "teaching", but he tells us nothing of what He said.
B. In this "intro", the "crowd" is at the beginning (six words into 5:1) and the end (the last word of 5:3).
C. Jesus has taken a stand alongside the Lake Gennesaret.
1. Luke is the only New Testament author to call Gennesaret a "lake". The only other uses of the word are found in Revelation 19-21 where John presents the "Lake of Fire". There may well be a connection here between Jesus' "baptism of fire" (3:16-17) and the setting for His proclamation of the Word of God.
a. There are only three references in the New Testament to "Gennesaret". Two of these refer to the extremely fertile region south and west of Capernaum and both of these references (Matthew 14:34 and Mark 6:53) are fitted into the records immediately after the Feeding of the 5,000 and the storm on the sea when Jesus walked upon the water. Both also emphasize the fact that the people in Gennesaret implored Jesus to heal all of their sick.
b. There is the question of why Luke would deliberately refer to Gennesaret. It had a reputation for being so fruitful that the priests in Jerusalem forbade anyone to bring any of its fruits to the feasts because they feared people would come for the fruit instead of the feasts (see the article on Gennesaret in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). This question can only be answered by measuring the impact of the paragraph before us. Luke clearly wished to present Jesus in terms of His provision of a catch of fish that was so enormous that it threatened to sink two of the fishing boats. This dovetails with the theme of the extraordinary fruitfulness of Gennesaret. But the question is of Luke's "point". Jesus, according to our text, obtained a loyal following from that day forward from Simon and James and John. He also got a bit of humility out of Simon. There is some debate as to the meaning of the name itself, but it begins with the same sound as the Hebrew word for "garden". Since we are told of this record at the early stage of Jesus' ministry, it may be that He was doing some "reverse-Adam-like" things as the Second Adam Who came to undo his damage that began in the Garden.
2. Luke's only other references to this "lake" are in chapter eight where both the disciples and the swine are "endangered" by its waters.
3. The New Testament use of "lake" is significantly related to the danger that water represents to "air-breathers".
4. Stepping back a bit, one can easily see that the "Lake" represents the "holiness of God". The "Lake of Fire" is presented in the Revelation as the same entity as is presented by Daniel as the "fiery stream" that proceeds from God (Daniel 7:10-11 compared with Revelation 19:20) and Peter is so overwhelmed by the action of Jesus that he falls on his knees before Jesus with one focus: his sinfulness (nothing brings this to the fore like the holiness of God -- see Isaiah 6 and Revelation 1). This is the most suitable backdrop for the teaching of the Word of God in view of the "new theology" of "John" (Yahweh is gracious).
a. It is interesting that Jesus used the waters of the "lake" to force the people to behave themselves. He made it impossible for them to "press" Him.
b. It is also interesting that Jesus taught the Word of God in such a way that the people were forced to face the lake. In the subtilty of undercurrents (much like making the people come out into the wilderness to be told they are snakes), Jesus compels the people to face the danger from which He delivers them...if they will believe Him.
c. It is also interesting that Simon and his cohorts have "adapted" themselves to the "danger" because of the "livelihood" that is there for them. The way this is accomplished is to make light of the danger -- a thing that in Luke's next reference to the "lake" Jesus refuses to permit any longer. He allows the storm on the "lake" to absolutely terrify the disciples (8:23). But, on this day, they had come up "empty" in their brashness...a brashness that Jesus deliberately confronted with Simon.