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?


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