Something New: Luke 5.33-6.11

We’ve been learning in Luke about what it looks like to follow Jesus. By the time we reach Luke 5.33 Jesus has been gathering up followers. His opponents are being exposed for their hard-heartedness, and they’re responding by trying to catch Jesus in fine points of law—their fine points of law!

Luke 5.33-6.11 includes three episodes that demonstrate that following Jesus means embracing something new, in contrast to the old way of serving God in Israel.

Jesus brings new celebration (5.33-39). This account deals with fasting which, along with feasting, played an important part in the national religion and culture of Israel. Jesus’ opponents accuse Jesus’ disciples (and Jesus by implication) of not fasting along with them.

Jesus responds with wedding imagery: Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? He goes on to say that there will be a time for fasting, but after He is gone. Important to catch is that celebration is the important response to the presence of the bridegroom!

The metaphors that follow, involving pieces of cloth, wine and wineskins, both make the point that you can’t mix old and new, not without destroying both. In the same way, you can’t mix Jesus and the Gospel with Judaism. Jesus brings something distinct and new!

Jesus brings new authority (6.1-5). In the next episode, Jesus’ disciples are criticized for eating grain on the Sabbath. Gleaning itself, provided for in Deuteronomy 23, is not the issue. But as the disciples’ actions took place on the last day of the week reserved for rest, the Pharisees are offended. Jesus tells the story of King David from 1 Samuel 21 when David (apparently) violated the Sabbath. In choosing this story Jesus reminds His opponents that even in its Old Testament context the laws of God were given to help people, not hurt them. If this be true, then He as the representative of humanity surely has authority over the law. Jesus brings something new!

Finally, Jesus brings new life (6.6-11). This is the account of the man with the withered hand. While Pharisaical law allowed for urgent medical care on the Sabbath, Jesus’ miracle is public, non-urgent and in the faces of the Pharisees. Jesus works in full view of all: Come and stand here,” Jesus tells the man. Is it lawful to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it, Jesus asks (:9).

Jesus knows the thoughts of His opponents. His healing is a picture of regeneration, renewal, new creation, a new beginning, and something completely new.

Much in these three accounts seems remote to us today. What do we make of Sabbath-keeping? While the issues are complex, two thoughts satisfy my mind on the point:

Jesus has fulfilled the Law of MosesDo not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them, Jesus says (Matt 5.17).

Jesus kept the Law of Moses perfectly, in both its letter and its spirit. In doing so, some aspects of the law disappeared. This includes its civil aspects governing how it was applied in the nation and its ceremonial aspects governing the temple worship. All gone when God ceased to reveal Himself through Israel! All gone when Jesus became the perfect sacrifice!

Other parts of the law continue but are applied differently. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matt 22.38-40).

Today, living in Jesus’ fulfillment of the law as we do, we still don’t murder or commit adultery or steal or lie or covet. Why? Because it isn’t loving. And love reflects God’s character, His moral law. And I don’t even need a verse to tell me this. I need the Spirit of God.

The second thought that satisfies me is that Jesus has brought about a new creation. The Sabbath didn’t start with Moses. God created in six days and then rested—not because He was tired, but because He was finished. His creation work was fulfilled and complete. This is why Israel finished the week with rest.

But at the empty tomb God the Father and Jesus bring about a new creation, involving new people and a renewal of the old creation. This took place on the first day of the week. And to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection believers as early as Acts 20 began meeting on the first day of the week.

That’s where we are today. Because of Jesus’ finished work we start (not finish) the new week with worship, celebration, and rest. And not because we have to, but because we want to!

These accounts in Luke 5-6 show that you can’t mix Jesus with Judaism. Jesus brings about something new. And following Jesus means embracing Jesus’ new creation!

What has been your experience? Find somebody to read Luke 5.33-6.11 with and talk through these questions:

  1. Has the Old Testament and how to keep its rules ever confused you? How?
  2. How do the ideas of Jesus fulfilling the law and Jesus bringing about a new creation satisfy YOU? What other questions do you have?
  3. Read Matt 5.17; 22.38-40; Jn 13.14; Gal 5.14; 6.2; and Js 2.8. How does our love for God and others serve to apply the fulfilled law of Christ?
  4. Knowing that Jesus has fulfilled God’s law and brought about a new creation that includes you (2 Cor 5.17), what freedom do you now feel? How does this freedom in Christ change the way you feel about rule keeping?


Unlikely Followers: Luke 5.12-32

If you’re following Jesus, who are you bringing with you?

That’s the question we asked last week when we considered Simon Peter’s mission in Luke 5.1-11.

This week in Luke 5.12-32 we’re going to learn more about the one we’re following. Jesus will encounter three outcasts: a leper , the social outcast; a paralytic, the physical outcast; and, a tax collector and his shady, underworld associates, the moral outcast.

What does Jesus do? He touches the leper, he receives the paralytic and, recognizing faith, forgives his sins, and he eats with Levi, the tax collector, even calling Levi Matthew to become one of his disciples.

Along the way Jesus encountered his first official opposition from Pharisees and scribes who ask: Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sin but God alone? (:21).

They’re right about who Jesus claims to be, even as they are wrong in not following him. Unlike Jesus who, in speaking earlier to the leper “wills” to make the leper clean (:13), these opponents of God don’t want to reach out to outsiders.

In these three accounts, we learn something more about the one we’re following: Jesus is sent from a missionary God. He calls to the outcasts and, through the gospel, invites each of us to follow him.

We gather three lessons from this passage:

  1. Jesus cares about outcasts. He touches lepers, heals paralytics and lies at table with tax collectors. All this is in keeping with the upside-down Kingdom of God that, in Jesus, breaks into history and the hearts of men. Those who think they are on the inside, like the Pharisees and scribes in the account, find that they’re on the outside with God. Those left to the margins in human society find—when they depend on Jesus by faith—that they are on the inside with God.
  2. We should care about outcasts. Local churches like Woodland are like chapters in the worldwide church of Jesus. This is a very dissimilar group of people, united by the person we’re trusting in: Jesus! This means there’s room for outcasts. When we say, “Come with” to somebody being left behind, we’re inviting people to a place where they won’t be judged and where they will learn about Jesus and have the chance to trust in him. We need to care about those others have left behind.
  3. Finally, we were once outcasts. First Corinthians 6.9-11 reads:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? … And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 

Talk about it

  1. As you read this account about Jesus, where do you find “shock value”? How does Jesus make his point in ways that can’t be missed?
  2. What do you learn about Jesus from Luke 5.12-32 that you didn’t know before?
  3. How were you an outcast with God and other people before you came to Christ?
  4. Is there anybody on your mind that you think you need to say “come with” to  as you follow Jesus and take somebody else along?


Following Jesus: Luke 5.1-11

What’s your mission in life? Have one? Ever thought about it even? I don’t mean your job. I mean the biggest possible window through which you view your purpose in life.

In Luke 5 we meet a major theme in Luke’s gospel. Discipleship is about following Jesus and taking somebody else with us. This is the passage about the miraculous catch of fish. And while we might have heard the story taught with great emphasis on the fish, it’s not actually about the fish. In Luke 5.1-11 we get three words from Jesus and a response from Simon Peter.

A (general) word from Jesus (:1-3). Jesus is preaching next to the Sea of Galilee and gets pressed by the crowd. He’s probably preaching about the Kingdom of God that is present where he is. Now is the time to embrace the reign and rule of God!

A (particular) word from Jesus (:4). Jesus is up to something special here. Turning from his general preaching to everybody, Jesus focuses on one man. Jesus chooses the boat of Simon Peter and puts out a bit from the shore to preach, his voice carrying on the water, Simon apparently at the oars.

After finishing his teaching, Jesus and Simon (and those with him) have a moment together. Maybe, Simon wanders what to ask the rabbi. But then, Jesus surprises him: Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch (:4).

A (complex) response from Simon Peter (:5-10a). Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! … Verse 5, especially the second half, is the sleeper key verse to the passage. These guys are tired. “Toiled” means “faint from weariness, spent from labor”. More than that, they’ve brought in no fish. Their outing has been a failure. I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired and feeling like a failure I don’t feel like being instructed, do you? And it’s right then when Jesus decides to give Simon fishing advice: let down your nets. 

There’s technical tradesman stuff going on here. According to Darrell Bock, my old teacher and favorite commentator on Luke, there’s two kinds of nets fishermen used on the Sea of Galilee. There’s Diktua, deep-water trolling nets used for night fishing. And there’s Amphiballovtas, shallow-water casting nets used for casting and morning fishing. It’s morning, but Jesus says, Lower your diktua, Simon. Basically, Jesus is telling Simon to ice fish with a fly rod. Jesus’ lesson doesn’t have anything to do with fishing.

Simon’s response is wonderful:  … but at your word I will let down the nets. Notice the shift in pronouns. We toiled, but I will do what you say. Simon is responding to Jesus, putting himself in the place to be taught by Jesus. And boy does he catch fish! The other guys have to come and help, and the boats start to sink. And right there in the midst of all these fish, Simon falls down and, undistracted by all going on around him, exclaims Depart from me, for I am a sinful man …

See what’s going on here? Simon recognizes Jesus. Simon understands that he is in the presence of the holy God. And he understands that he is a sinner and can’t be in God’s presence.

A (simple) word from Jesus (:10b-11). Do not be afraid, Jesus says. I’m not going to judge you. I’ve got what you need. And here it is … your MISSION. From now on you will be catching men (:10b). While catching fish meant death to the fish, catching men means life for men and women. And then, everybody leaves the catch of a lifetime and follows Jesus (:11). This only goes to show that the wildest success in our old lives pales in comparison to following Jesus.

I don’t believe Simon Peter is necessarily saved here. Luke 9.20 records Peter’s profession of who Jesus is: You are the Christ of God. And I believe that somewhere in Luke 5-9 Peter trusts Jesus and is saved. I do believe that in this passage Simon Peter learns what he’s to be all about in this life.

And, as we await Jesus’ second coming, that is still what his followers are all about. Following Jesus involves a response to Jesus that includes bringing others along. 

Have you trusted in Jesus? If so, who are you bringing along to get to know Jesus?

We bring others along when we include them in our lives in order to tell them about Jesus. At first, this might look like picking a neighbor up for church … inviting a friend to small group … introducing a new lady to a mom’s group where she will learn about Christ … going fishing with some other believers, but then including a new guy … making a point of sitting down with our own sons or daughters to read the Bible together, memorize Scripture together, pray together.

Luke 5.1-11 doesn’t include the gospel. In a manner of speaking, the gospel hasn’t happened yet because Jesus hasn’t been to the cross. What we do see in this passage is the promise of the mission of every believer, starting with Simon Peter. We’re to follow Jesus, trusting in him for the forgiveness of sins …

… And, we’re to take somebody else along!


Talk about it:

  1. Who took you along when you were a young believer?
  2. Who are you taking along now?
  3. What ought this relationship to look like? What should we do when we are discipling one another?

Have a great week, in the Lord!


Praise for God and His Kingdom: Psalm 145

This week, with a great many of our Woodland women off on retreat, we’ll be jumping out of Luke. In that gospel we have been traveling through a section (chapters 4-9) that emphasizes Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus’ central message, we’ve seen, involves the Kingdom of God—the reign and rule of God that is most immediately present in the person of Jesus. So, when Jesus is on the scene, there’s ” … good news to the poor … liberty preached to the captive … sight to the blind … freedom to those oppressed (4.18).

But, Jesus didn’t come out of nowhere. In fact, testimony of God’s reign and rule have been available since the creation of the world. And, Psalm 145, attributed to King David, is one of those places that describes God’s kingdom by telling us about the great, mighty, awesome ruler Himself. This, we are learning in Luke, is the ruler who sent Jesus!

But, what is to be our response to God’s kingdom? This response is the subject matter of Psalm 145.

First, we’re to praise God from one generation to the next (:1-13a). We do this because … God’s greatness is unsearchable (:1-3) … God is worth being excited about (:4-7) … God is gentle to us in our sin (:8-9) … God’s work will bless Him in the end (:10) … and God’s reign and rule will not end (:11-13a).

And here’s the message we’re to pass along to others: Your [God’s] kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations (:13a, ESV). God’s reign and rule have always existed and will always exist. We get to be a part of praising Him for His glory … might … and glorious splendor. 

Second, we’re to praise God for His care (:13b-21). We do this because … God shows His might by His compassion (:13b-16) … God responds to those who call on Him (:17-20) … and God has made us to praise Him (:21).

The real test of a leader is what he or she does with his or her power. Real leaders bless and don’t dominate. Real leaders build  up others from their resources. They don’t leverage their power for their own gain. This is true of earthly leaders, because this is true of God. God’s character is seen most clearly in how He treats the weak. There’s a twist here, however: only those who know they need God see this aspect of His character. And then, God responds to them!

Psalm 145 doesn’t mention Jesus, does it? And yet, in God’s unfolding story of redemption (that we’re learning about in the Gospel of Luke), we see that the sending of Jesus is the crucial act of God that reveals God’s reign and rule. At the cross, and at the tomb, God’s reign and rule became actual for those who would depend on Jesus by faith.

And, for us …?

Our proper response to God’s reign and rule is praise to God for His work in Jesus. 

How about you? Why don’t you consider the following questions, in light of Psalm 145 and God’s story of redemption:

  1. What has God done that we need to tell the next generation about?
  2. How has God shown kindness to you?

Take some time to discuss these questions with others this week. And have a great week, in the LORD!

Jesus’ Authority … Proclaim it!

We’ve made it! In our weekly run up to Sunday, on a week that didn’t include our Sunday meeting, we’re preparing to meet again at Woodland!

Sunday, we’ll finally consider Luke 4.31-44, on the authority of Jesus. (Have a look at the blog post released two installments ago.) If you’re in a small group (and might have already looked at the passage), do consider the thought-provoking questions below.

The authority if Jesus is demonstrated in and proclaimed by those who belong to him. 

Here’s the questions:

  1. If you know Jesus in a saving way, where has God shown His power in your life?
  2. What strongholds has He broken down in Jesus’ name?
  3. Where does your heart, together with its habits, need a word from Jesus?
  4. If you don’t know Jesus in a saving way, could it be that today is your day to recognize Jesus’ authority in the Gospel and begin depending on Him?


See you Sunday, at Woodland …