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Luke

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Forgiven in Person

Luke 5:24-26

All the paralysed man knew was that if he could get to Jesus, Jesus would do the rest. Lowered down through a hole in the roof, he became the focus of attention until Jesus said that He personally forgave the man's sins. Religious protocol was upset, only God could do that! They watched Jesus' next move very carefully. He was not cowered by their criticism; indeed He made a point of proving that He had authority which they did not.

Following by Command

Luke 5:27-28

Tax collectors had a bad reputation. They took their pay as a sort of informal 'commission' from the tax payers. Nobody knew quite how much they ought to pay, and everybody suspected that the revenue officers were corrupt. Their social stigma placed them with prostitutes as the most despised people in society. No religious leader would be seen in their company. But Jesus knew that He was their only hope, and so He ate and talked with them.

The Joy of Repentance

Luke 5:29-32

Jesus had commanded a corrupt tax collector to leave his old life and become a disciple. Levi's immediate obedience was evidence of his repentance. We do not know how long he had been wanting a way out, but we do know that when Jesus called him, he responded with joy - released from a rich but empty way of life (1 Peter 1:18).

The Joy of Belonging

Luke 5:33-35

One thing was obvious about Jesus and the disciples - they enjoyed life and loved people. But that was a sharp contrast to the religious leaders who enforced many restrictions in the guise of 'pleasing God'. Their attitude was mournfully dutiful, sending outward signals of holiness, even if they had no relationship with God. One set of rules was about fasting. This was intended to be a normal part of submitting to God, and praying for His purpose to be revealed and fulfilled.

All New

Luke 5:36-39

Some people see religion mainly as a prop, crutch or help in difficult times; a psychological addition to normal life or a part of the social fabric providing a structure to life. And for many, their religion is just that. Today we read the parable of clothing and wineskins in which Jesus says that the new will not mix with the old. The point He was making was that He had not come to patch up people's lives or all the inadequacies of the Jewish law (it was unable to make anyone good enough for God), but to bring new life which could not be contained by religious rules.

Fit for Purpose

Luke 6:1-5

Christless religion always reduces relationship with God to rules. Of course, before Christ, apart from a few people who God filled with His Spirit, it was not possible to know Him personally. The Old Testament Law was clear about what God loved and hated, and how sacrifices could atone for unintentional sins; but there was no dynamic relationship with Father God. Without that personal fellowship, religious people compile rules for life; assuming that by keeping them, God's wrath will be appeased - the more intense that belief, the more rigorous the rules.

Hating Jesus

Luke 6:6-7

Jesus went to 'church' (synagogue) to teach, but religious leaders came to criticise Him. They did not have open minds to receive the message from God, to help them understand why the Old Testament prophets wrote about Him. Instead, their hearts were hard; they had already decided that Jesus was an intolerable threat to their authority and power structure: He needed to be removed ... legally, of course, and that was why they scrutinised all His words and actions.

Lessons in Grace

Luke 6:8-11

Jesus knew that the religious leaders were hoping He would heal this man on the Sabbath day so that they could accuse Him of 'lawbreaking', and they were not disappointed. Of course, Jesus is never fooled by anybody; He knew what they were thinking, and it was not God honouring - they needed to know the truth. He also knew that His disciples needed training in how to deal with this sort of confrontation.

Planning Ahead

Luke 6:12-16

In business, teams are important. It is said that everybody brings something special to the table and makes a unique contribution. However, Jesus selected His team of raw recruits in a night of prayer. They were chosen to learn ('disciple' means learner or pupil) ... when they tried to be creative executives they failed (Luke 22:31-34). However, after their three years of training and then being filled with the Holy Spirit, they were sent out to be the leaders of the early church ('apostles' means 'sent ones'). That is, apart from Judas Iscariot.

Powerful Attraction

Luke 6:17-19

Lots of people wanted to learn from Jesus; they called themselves 'disciples', which means learners or pupils. However, the Master had selected just twelve of them to be on His apprentice training course - they would become the foundational apostles (Luke 6:12-16). From now on, Jesus would be teaching and healing many of the crowd who came to Him, but, at the same time, He was training the future leaders of the Early Church.

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