Luke 5:17-26-Jesus heals a man on a pallet who had been brought by his friends. They couldn’t get to Jesus because the crowd was so large. So, they climbed on top of the house and let him down with ropes…right in front of Jesus. What wonderful friends…who would not stop until they had gotten their friend to Jesus! Lord, let me have friends like that. Better yet, let me be that kind of friend. Jesus recognized the man’s physical problem…but, He began with his spiritual problem, sin. He told him that his sins were forgiven. The Pharisees said He was blaspheming. Only God can forgive sin…and when Jesus proclaimed that the man’s sins were forgiven, He was in essence equating Himself with God. Guess what…they were right. That is exactly what Jesus was doing…and He knew it. So, He asked them which was easier...to tell the man that his sins were forgiven, or to tell the man to stand up and walk. They probably smirked at Him and under their breath said, “As if He could do either.” So, Jesus did both. His authority extended over both the physical and the spiritual realms. Take careful notice…Jesus did not refute the statement of the Pharisees that He was making claim to be God. He did not say that it wasn’t true. He didn’t say that they had misunderstood. But, neither did He directly say that He was God. Why? Because at that moment they would have taken up stones and killed Him. No. He simply healed the man…and left the obvious, indirect conclusion up to them. They were right…only God can pronounce forgiveness for sin. “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”
Luke 5:27-32-Jesus meets a tax-gatherer by the name of Levi (his last name is Matthew, Mark 2:14).
For an explanation of why tax-gatherers were so disliked and distrusted see:
Jesus calls Matthew to follow Him, to become one of His disciples. Levi then has a meal with his friends and Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for attending such a meal where sinners are present. His response is that He has come for those who are willing to recognize that they are in need of help. The Pharisees felt that they needed no one’s help…they were adequate to please God on their own.
Luke 5:33-39-The Pharisees then complain that their disciples and those of John the Baptist practice fasting and prayer, but Jesus does not teach His disciples to do these things. Jesus’ response is two-fold. First, this is not the time for fasting…a time of mourning. As long as He is with them it is a time of joy and celebration. Later, when He has been crucified and He is no longer with them…that will be the time for fasting. Second, Jesus teaches that His teaching is about grace, not just laws. Grace cannot be constrained within a teaching that only emphasizes the Law. Grace is much more expansive than the narrow restrictions of the Law. It deals not just with the narrow confines of what is to be done or not done…but, it deals with the very spirit and intent of these matters, why they are to be done. They are satisfied with the Law…but to be His follower involves a much deeper commitment. They go through the external, outward motions of fasting…but His followers will learn the true intent of a heart that is broken by sin and expresses sorrow for it.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to be the kind of friend who does whatever is necessary to bring people to you. And Lord, please help me to be a friend to everyone...sinners and self-righteous, alike.