Luke 5-7 – Reading Helps

5:1-11

  • Nothing random or coincidental about Jesus being around the boats of Peter, Andrew, James and John.  He clearly seeks them out.
  • The miracle Jesus performs is perfectly appropriate for the four fisherman – He meets them where they live.
  • Peter’s response (vs 8) shows he knows he’s in the presence of God.  It’s the natural response when confronted with holy divinity.  It’s similar to how Isaiah responded when he was commissioned (Is 6:5)

12-16

  • To heal the leper, Jesus touches him.  NO ONE touches or comes near a leper.  Just the willingness to touch him shows Jesus’ divinity.
  • Jesus’ fame continues to spread and more people seek Him out for healing and to hear His teaching.  Interestingly, Luke chooses to tell us He often goes away to pray right after telling us about His fame.  As the stakes grow larger, Jesus’ desire/need for prayer and fellowship with the Father grows too.  There’s a lesson here for us.

17-26

  • Jesus’ fame has grown to the point that religious leaders from all over the country gather to hear Him and witness His ministry (and, likely, to find reasons to trip Him up or build a case against Him).
  • Jesus doesn’t duck this and seems almost to go out of His way to encounter the religious leaders and tweak them (we see this throughout these chapters).  There’s a “stick-it to the man” quality about Jesus’ ministry.
  • The last sentence of verse 17 is a little odd.  Luke says the power to heal is with Jesus at this point which could imply that it’s not always there.  Most likely, however, he simply wants to explain that the power of God is present even with the religious leaders in attendance.  This scene isn’t about them – it’s about Jesus and His role as the divine Messiah.
  • Notice that Jesus sees the faith of the man AND the friends who brought him. (20)
  • In verse 21, when the religious leaders are horrified by Jesus’ forgiving the lame man’s sins and state that it’s only God who can forgive sins, Jesus doesn’t disagree.
  • In verse 22, Jesus answers their THOUGHTS.  This has to be a little sobering for them.
  • Jesus’ question in verse 23 is also a little hard to understand.  Does He mean that it’s literally easier to say one phrase instead of the other?  What He probably means is that it’s easier to tell a man his sins are forgiven because there’s no way to verify that it happened.  However, if you tell someone to rise and walk, it’s pretty apparent if a miracle has occurred or not.
  • The fact that Jesus heals the man proves that He has authority to forgive his sins.  No way He’d have the power to heal if He’d just blasphemed.
  • The response of the crowd is interesting in that we don’t know if it includes the skeptical religious leaders.  Based on their reactions on other occasions, we can probably assume they aren’t joining in glorifying God for what they’ve seen.

27-28

  • He calls a TAX-GATHERER to be a follower!!  This has to open a few eyes.  They are possibly even more hated than the Romans because they are classified as traitors.  And traitors who prey on their own people.  NO ONE of any respectability associates with tax-gatherers and Jesus calls one to be a follower.
  • Notice verse 28.  This is what repentance looks like.  Levi (Matthew) leaves EVERYTHING behind and follows Jesus.  Repentance is turning away and following God.

29-39

  • This picture of Levi doesn’t really jibe with the character in The Chosen, does it?  This Levi has parties.
  • For the Pharisees, it’s all about ritual purity and appearances.  The thought of going to sinners and ministering to them never crosses their mind.  It’s easy to criticize them but it’s also easy to imitate them without thinking.  It’s easier to exist in our Christian circles than it is to go to where the sinners are who need the gospel.
  • Jesus makes the point about going to sinners when He says something HUGELY encouraging for us: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  We should rejoice that this is true.
  • The parable in verses 36-39 is difficult to understand and commentators disagree on its meaning.  What it COULD mean is that Jesus represents a new covenant, and the Pharisees and scribes are holding on to the old.  The new won’t simply coexist with the old, it’s a brand-new way of life on its own.  For the Jews who are stuck in the old, they don’t want anything to do with the new – they’re happy where they are.  The ending verse calls this meaning into question somewhat because if it refers to the Pharisees holding on to the old wine it doesn’t seem to be criticizing them for it.  The bottom line is that this is difficult to understand.

6:1-5

  • Jesus’ reference to David seems to mean that David and his men violated the ceremonial law because of extreme conditions and because David had the authority to do so.  If David had that authority, then how much more does Jesus?  It’s also in question as to whether the disciples actually violate the Sabbath at all or they just violate the Pharisee’s rules surrounding the Sabbath.  Regardless, Jesus essentially says, “I am the reason for the Sabbath, so I get to make the rules.” (vs 5)

6-11

  • Jesus again does not back down from the religious leaders.  Here He shows what incredible hypocrites they are and how blind they are.
  • Notice that He doesn’t touch the man He heals.  The man doesn’t do anything beyond reaching his hand out.  There’s no way any of this can be classified as work.
  • Jesus’ question in verse 9 exposes how dark the hearts of the leaders are.
  • The leaders’ reaction shows the blindness of sin.  They are ENRAGED because Jesus exposed them and showed them up and violated their Sabbath rules.  Never mind that a man got his hand back.  They care nothing about the man – it’s all about their standing.  This is what sin does.  It makes us care nothing about anyone other than ourselves.  It ALWAYS blinds.

12-19

  • Verse 12 goes back to 5:16.  Jesus knows He has a big decision in the morning so He goes away by Himself and spends the night in prayer.  This is a lesson.  If the SON OF GOD needs to pray through difficult times in life and spend much time asking for wisdom, how much more do we??
  • He calls the 12 apostles out of the larger group of disciples who follow Him.  Once again, His choice of Levi has to turn some heads.  He calls Judas knowing full well what will happen.
  • Luke highlights again the power Jesus has to heal (vs 19).  This goes along with our earlier assumption that the power doesn’t come and go, it’s always there.

20-49

  • These verses are Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount (part 1).  He doesn’t relate all the sermon in one place like Matthew does – he seems to split it into different sections and retell it at different points in the gospel (see also 11:1-13).
  • Just like in Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount is a manifesto.  It explains how the citizen of the kingdom of God is supposed to live.  The best summary is – DIFFERENT.  We are to be radically different from the citizens of the world.
  • Notice the contrast between verses 22 and 26.
  • How often do we think about the truth of verse 35?  God bestows His kindness and provision on those who hate Him and curse Him and care nothing about His precepts.  Shouldn’t this affect how we interact with our enemies (or in-laws)?
  • How much would our lives change if we simply meditated on verse 36 and truly let it permeate every relationship and interaction that we have?
  • Verse 45 – we should remember this when we evaluate how we speak.  We speak out of that which fills our heart.  No exceptions.

7:1-10

  • Luke likes to include this story because it shows Jesus ministering to a gentile.
  • The centurion is obviously a unique man.  He loves Israel and loves the Jews to the point that he built a synagogue.
  • He doesn’t come himself to see Jesus likely because he knows as a gentile he can’t interact directly with a rabbi.  He also states in verse 7 that he’s not worthy to come to Jesus (which means he has some idea of who Jesus is).
  • His faith that Jesus can heal from a distance amazes Jesus.  The man gets it.

11-17

  • First time we see Jesus raise someone from the dead.  Notice his compassion on the mother of the dead man.  Compassion is the most common of Jesus’ responses to the people He encounters.  We see this throughout all the gospels.

18-35

  • John the Baptist’s confusion as to Jesus’ true identity is at first a little hard to understand since the text says his disciples tell him all that Jesus has been doing.  It could be that he’s confused because he expected the Messiah to come and judge the people, not heal them (see 3:16-17).
  • Jesus’ response to the disciples is to quote Messianic verses from Isaiah that John would be familiar with.  He essentially says that He’s fulfilling the words of Isaiah (the same thing He said when He was in Nazareth).  The judgment will come in the last days at His second coming, not now.  Now He’s here to minister to the poor and heal the sick.
  • Verse 23 is an odd verse but seems to mean that those who aren’t skeptical of or offended by Him or disappointed that He’s not a political savior, are blessed.  The ones who get it and believe are blessed.
  • Verses 29-30 show the contrast between those who repented and were baptized by John and those (the religious leaders) who didn’t and weren’t.  The first group rejoices in Jesus’ words about John – the second group doesn’t.
  • Jesus’ illustration about the children calling to each other makes the point that there’s no pleasing the religious leaders.  John was an ascetic and they called him demon-possessed.  Jesus comes eating and drinking and they call him a drunkard.  Two opposites and both rejected.  The problem isn’t with John and Jesus, it’s with the religious leaders who won’t believe.

36-50

  • One more confrontation with a Pharisee.  We have to understand the picture here (which is SO different from our cultural norms).  It’s not odd that people can wander into a house that’s hosting a dinner party.  Uninvited guests are free to come in as long as they don’t try to eat.  It’s okay to come in and watch and listen.
  • What’s NOT normal is for a prostitute to come into a Pharisee’s house.  This has to horrify Simon.
  • Notice how oblivious the woman is.  She cares NOTHING about anyone else or who’s watching her or what kind of scene she’s causing.  She’s been forgiven much and loves much and that’s all that matters.  She loves her Savior.
  • Simon is wary of Jesus’ story about the moneylender.  Notice his reply – “I suppose…”  He has a suspicion this story isn’t going to show him in a good light, he’s just not sure where Jesus is going with it.
  • Jesus shows at the end of the story that Simon invited Him but didn’t think enough of Him to treat Him as an honored guest (or as a rabbi) by washing his feet or anointing him.
  • Jesus’ words to the woman (47) don’t mean that her love resulted in forgiveness.  Note that He says in verse 50 that her faith has saved her.  What He means is that she loves BECAUSE she’s been forgiven.  Faith leads to salvation which leads to love. 
  • Note that Jesus doesn’t discount her sin.  He says her sins are many (47).  That’s why she loves so much – it’s because she’s been forgiven so much.
  • When we understand – like the woman – the depth of our sin, we love more deeply. 
  • Once again, the religious leaders – just like with the lame man – can’t believe He just claimed to forgive her sins.  And once more, He doesn’t shy away from His divinity.
  • This story illustrates again what Jesus said in 5:31-32 – I’m not here for the righteous; I came for the sinners.  Thank God that’s true.

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