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Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 6: September 18, 2009, Luke 5.1 – 6.11.

Day 6: September 18, 2009, Luke 5.1 – 6.11.


My commentary follows the reading below:

Luke 5.1 - 6.11

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

5Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ 5Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ 9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

12 Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ 13Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do choose. Be made clean.’ Immediately the leprosy left him. 14And he ordered him to tell no one. ‘Go’, he said, ‘and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.’ 15But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. 16But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

17 One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; 19but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. 20When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ 21Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, ‘Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ 22When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 23Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? 24But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the one who was paralysed—‘I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.’ 25Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. 26Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’

Jesus Calls Levi

27 After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 28And he got up, left everything, and followed him.

29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. 30The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 31Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’

The Question about Fasting

33 Then they said to him, ‘John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.’ 34Jesus said to them, ‘You cannot make wedding-guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 35The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.’ 36He also told them a parable: ‘No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, “The old is good.” ’

The Question about the Sabbath

6One sabbath while Jesus was going through the cornfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. 2But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ 3Jesus answered, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?’ 5Then he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’

The Man with a Withered Hand

6 On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 7The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ He got up and stood there. 9Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ 10After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. 11But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Commentary: I love the fact that Luke lets us know that Peter has already had an encounter with Jesus, at least partially, for Jesus has healed Peter’s mother-in-law in the previous chapter. Now Jesus shows up at Gennesaret (another name for the Sea of Galilee) and given the fact that his Mother-in-law has just been healed, it’s not unusual that Peter would offer Jesus his boat as a podium to speak to the crowds. Peter has patiently heard the teaching of Jesus, but now the question becomes will he be obedient?

You see Peter had worked all night, and now he had been gracious enough to give Jesus the use of his boat, but the question underlying discipleship is one of obedience. Peter’s obedience to Jesus’ command to go out into the deep water (one that didn’t make any sense by the way, the fish were close to the shore) results in a miraculous catch. This is more than a miracle story but it outlines the basic pattern of discipleship. The call to discipleship is not just a call to listen, but to serve and be obedient, and that obedience results in unimaginable gain! Do we merely listen to the words of Christ or are we also obedient?

The rest of the reading seems to challenge our ideas of who is clean and unclean—and the power of God in Christ to wash each and everyone of us. Peter confesses that he is unclean, yet Jesus calls him to discipleship. The leper asks to be made clean from the disease which has not only ruined his health but torn him away from his family and community, and he is made clean. A man who cannot walk is restored to health. A tax collector who is the ‘scum of the earth’ is brought into the fold. What is this! Jesus seems to be more concerned with people and their worth, then rules and regulations. Jesus makes the first move with Levi, and those in authority are astounded that Jesus would eat with Levi and his friends.

When are we called to care more about people than rules? Who are you more like, Levi and his friends or the religious leasers who can’t believe that Jesus would eat with them? The end of our reading reminds us of the words of Simeon with baby Jesus in the Temple that this Jesus will cause the falling and rising of many, and will be spoken against! Why is God’s word of inclusion so frightening to us?

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