May 30, 2015.
Daily Reading: Luke 5-6.
Background: Luke 3-4.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Fishers of men: Luke records here that the first disciples that Jesus called were Peter, James and John, who were all fishing partners. Jesus, who was in the process of teaching a large crowd, came across these three fishermen after a bad night and set out in Peter’s boat to teach the people from the sea. After He finished speaking to the people, He turned to the fishermen and told them to cast their nets into the deep. Peter’s response of hesitation and almost patronization makes more sense when we realize that these men were night fishermen, and their craft was done in the shallow part of the sea, not in the deep. Peter likely was thinking “I’m the professional here.” Yet, he also likely knew that Jesus was a respected Rabbi, so on this he did what He said. His reaction when the great catch was brought in further shows how unprepared he was for them to actually catch any fish. All these small nuances about why they should not have caught any fish here place even more emphasis on the miracle that was preformed. Peter recognized this, and confessed his sin. James and John recognized this and immediately left what was probably the biggest catch of their lives and followed Jesus. Instead of fishing for fish, they would from that point on be taught to fish for the souls of men.
2. Healing: After Jesus calls His first disciples, He then has two different encounters of healing people. The first was a leper who trusted that whatever He willed could be done. Jesus said “I will, be clean,” and the leper was healed immediately. Notice the emphasis on the will of Christ. He then told the healed man to show himself as clean to the priest (see Leviticus 14:2-32 for laws on leprosy). Though He had told the man not to tell anyone of what had been done, word was getting out about Him and the miracles that He was preforming, and great crowds came to him to have their infirmaries healed. Upon one occasion when these crowds were gathered around Him, there was a paralytic man whose friends desired for him to be healed, so they brought him to Jesus. However, when they came to Jesus they could not get to Him because of the crowd. Thinking on their feet, they went to the roof and lowered him down through the roof to rest before Jesus. Notice what is said about Jesus: seeing their faith. When Jesus saw the faith of the friends, he told the paralytic man that his sins were forgiven him, which made the scribes and the Pharisees very angry. They said that only God could forgive sins (note the claim that Jesus was making here by saying that He could forgive sins). To prove to them that He could forgive sins, He told the paralytic man to get up and walk, which he did straight away. Everyone was astonished at what they had seen, and they praised God.
3. Levi and the Pharisees: Jesus’ trouble with the Pharisees was just beginning. Here we see Jesus call another disciples, a tax collector named Levi, to follow him. Tax collectors were hated by the Jews, as they were seen as traitors to their own people. They were often associated with sinners. Levi prepared a feast at his house and invited Jesus along with a large number of other tax collectors and people. When the Pharisees saw that Jesus ate with the tax collectors, they were astonished that he would eat with such “low-lifes” and sinners. They grumbled at His disciples, but Jesus answered them with the purpose that He came to this earth for, which was to seek and to save the lost. It was not those who were healthy that needed a physician, but rather the sick. Then some came to Him and asked Him why His disciples didn’t fast like the disciples of John did, as well as the disciples of the Pharisees. He explained that the guest of the party do not fast when the bridegroom is there, But would fast when the bridegroom leaves. He then tells the parable about putting new wine in new wine skins as opposed to old wineskins, likely referring to how the Pharisees were going to try and force the Law onto the age of the Christ and how that simply wouldn’t work. It would be hard for any of those who were accustomed to the old wine to accept the new, that is the law of Christ (see Galatians 1-3).
1. Understanding the Sabbath: See Matthew 12 for discussion of Jesus’ disciples gleaning (see Deuteronomy 23:25) on the Sabbath. Here Luke records two instances of Jesus challenging what the Pharisees thought of the Sabbath day and what its purpose was. The Sabbath was not a time to sacrifice life for rules, as it would seem that the Pharisees wanted to do, as that would go agains the very nature of God. God desires mercy over sacrifice (see Matthew 12). On both of these occasions, the Pharisees were angry either at Jesus or His disciples over something that pertained to life. First, the disciples were eating grain because they needed food. Then, they were angry at Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. They refused to see the big picture, but rather discussed what they were going to do with Jesus. Let us not miss the big picture.
2. The Apostles: Jesus choose 12 men to be apostles for Him, staying close with Him throughout His ministry and subsequently spreading the gospel after He was gone. These are the 12 apostles, in the order listed: Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (the son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), Judas (son of James) and Judas Iscariot.
3. Sermon-on-the-mount-like sermon: At the end of this chapter Luke records what seems to be another version of the sermon on the mount (see Matthew 5-7 for more details), though it is not exactly the same. Some have commented that the sermon here seems to be more focused on the physical than what was more focused on spiritual in the book of Matthew, especially in the beatitudes. Where the account in Matthew said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness…,” Luke’s account simply says “Blessed are you who are hungry now….” There are many hard teachings in this section, not hard in concept, but hard to put into practice. Often we only pay lip service to this chapter, reading it and saying that the things contained within are good to do, but then we ignore them in our every day lives. What happens when we realize that we are the ones who are rich? How often do we do good to those who hate us? Do we ever give to anyone who begs of us? When we lend, do we expect nothing in return? Jesus tells us not to judge others, for by the measure we judge, so we will be judged (we are often much more critical of others, but when it comes to us, we let things slide). Many of the things that Jesus says here are very difficult to swallow. Read them carefully and honestly evaluate the way you live your life. We must examine our own lives before we can help others, for if we tell others to do something that we are not doing, we become hypocrites. Let us hear the words of Jesus and apply them to our lives, building our houses on the solid Rock, who is the Christ. Meditate upon the words contained in this chapter, perhaps even daily.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Ephesians 1-3.
Hear the word of the Lord.