Luke: Chapter 5 - Time to Start Fishing
Jesus begins to gather his disciples in this 5th chapter of Luke. Finally! Jesus goes to Simon Peter, who had been fishing in the Sea of Galilee and had caught nothing, and asked him to take his boat back out into the water. Jesus was going to teach from the boat, but he asked Simon Peter to drop his nets. Peter explained that they had fished all night and caught nothing, but in respect to Jesus, he would drop the nets. The nets filled so full … overflowing … that Peter had to call for a second boat to come to help haul the fish back to the shore. Simon Peter wept, knelt and told Jesus that he was just a lowly sinner. Jesus told him to get up and get ready to become a “fisher of men”! I always loved that children’s song, “I will make you fishers of men!” James and John were Simon’s partners, and they joined in following Jesus, leaving behind everything that they had.
This chapter includes telling of the miracles of Jesus healing the leper and causing the paralyzed man to walk. Significant in the healing of the leper is the fact that Jesus reached out and touched him. That was unheard of in that time. One of my childhood Sunday School classrooms had a picture of the men lowering the paralyzed man down through the roof so he would be seen by Jesus. They couldn’t carry him though the crowd. I remember asking my mother why the man couldn't walk. Little did we know that I would have a long happy marriage with a pretty special man who couldn't walk.
Jesus used the paralyzed man somewhat as a visual representation of repenting of our sins. My paraplegic husband hated this Bible story because Jesus told the man he was forgiven of his sins, so he could rise and walk. Joe always said he’d like to know what sins he had committed to put him in a car wreck at age 12 that would kill several children and leave him paralyzed. I suspect that when Joe reached Heaven, he and Jesus might have had a strong conversation about that.
Jesus recruited another disciple, Levi. Levi, who we later knew as Matthew, was a tax collector and was from a family of tax collectors! Tax collectors were disliked. Levi jumped at the invitation to follow Jesus. He later hosted a party so Jesus and the disciples could meet his friends and colleagues. Jesus and the disciples ate and drank at this event, and this is where some trouble began.
The Pharisees began asking why Jesus and his followers would do this. Why did they not pray and worship by fasting? Why did they not follow the customary rules of the time regarding fasting?
Jesus answered with two parables. The first was to describe patching an old garment with new cloth. As the new cloth shrank, it would cause the old garment damage. The second was to say that you cannot put new wine in an old wine skin. As the new wine fermented, it would cause the old skin to break.
The meaning of both parables was pretty simple. Jesus was bringing a new kind of religion. His Word was different than the old message of the Hebrews. He needed to stress that fact to these old believers.
The part of this account that I like best is when Jesus is asked why he was hanging out with Levi, a bad guy and his bad guy friends! Jesus told him that his message was for everybody. It was for sinners. I love this part so much because our church had a minister when I was a teenager that did exactly this. On Saturday evenings, he would visit our little town’s taverns! He would invite the folks in the bars to come to church the next day. Many did and over time they joined our church and raised their families in church. Not long ago, one of those men died, and it made me ponder the changes in his life. I first knew him as somebody to stay away from and later knew him as a Christian father and grandfather.
My take-away is the same message that I preached to my husband many times. I don't believe that God punishes us for things we've done wrong. I think God loves us, forgives us and allows us to repent. I answered Joe's question many times in 35 years. God did not cause a carload of little boys on a Sunday School outing to be hit head on by a drunk driver, leaving 6 people dead. I was always proud of my husband for doing everything he could do to rise above those fears and live a normal Christian life.
I love to recreate historic meals! I don’t think we can find out what Levi (Matthew) served at his party, though. I’m encouraging you to skip dinner and snack all evening! Make up your own menu in recognition of this historic event! I’ll share one of my favorite recipes with you and if you follow this link, you’ll see how I make Hummus with red beans instead of the typical garbanzo beans!