Bible Reading Day 87

by markburlinson

Day 87 – Luke 5:17-39

Read online.

Good morning!
Now Jesus has a following of disciples, He is a Rabbi (teacher) and is becoming a threat to the religious leaders. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law follow Him around, finding fault with Him. That might be enough to threaten me or you into compliance, but not Jesus! It is almost as though He goes out of His way to offend their religious pride! When a paralyzed man is brought to Jesus, He first tells him his sins are forgiven. (Remember that most people in that day thought disease was the result of sin). Of course the religious leaders believed only God could forgive sin, and so the stage was set for a confrontation! How moving that Jesus proves the power of His (controversial) words by doing a miracle, while the Pharisees’ (religious) words have never worked a miracle in their lives! The joy the paralyzed man felt was shared by everyone who knew him, and so Jesus’ fame spread.
Then Jesus picks a disciple certain to provoke the Pharisees to further fits of rage – Matthew (also called Levi) the Tax Collector. During tax season (remember April 15 is coming up soon) we don’t often think highly of tax collectors (unless we get a big refund). But in Jesus’ day tax collectors were as vilified as Al-Quaeda sympathizers are in ours. They were traitors, and worse they had the backing of the evil government. Of course tax collectors deserved this bad reputation – they deceived people, were greedy, and could only be trusted to cheat you!
So Jesus’ choice was very interesting – for Matthew, and for the religious people. We see a glimpse of why Jesus called him in the conversation with the religious leaders that follows; Jesus tells everyone that He has come to those who know they are sinners and need to repent. Matthew clearly was in that place, and it is testimony to the power of Jesus’ love that Matthew went on to write the gospel we read at the start of this year together. More information on Matthew here.
Finally Jesus is asked why He and His followers do not fast, when John the Baptist’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast regularly. The purpose of fasting was to bring one closer to God (at least for John’s followers) or to prove one’s devotion to God. Of course, Jesus’ disciples can’t get any closer to God than walking around with Him, so fasting is not relevant for them at this time. Jesus explains that they will fast when He is taken away, and follows that statement with two illustrations about the difference between old and new. He is the NEW, and the new is incompatible with the old, causing harm to it if they are forced together.
What new thing is God doing in you today? And what new structure or habit do you need to embrace to allow God’s newness to work in you fully?
Have a great day!

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