June 28, 2010 David Balzer

Luke 5:1-6:11: Revolutionary Recruits

It’s brand new! Just arrived! And it’s like nothing else before it. Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never go back! People are travelling miles to find it. And they’ll wait for hours just to get it.

Have you discovered it yet!

It’s only small and the moment. But it’s getting bigger. Soon it will be all over the place.

What is it? It’s Krispy Kreme donuts of course!

Apparently they’re made with yeast, and some secret process.

And those who’ve tried them say/ you’ll never go back to normal donuts again. So light, they melt in your mouth. So delicious and moorish, you’d eat a dozen if you could.

They’re just donuts. Just like the old-fashioned ones. But NOT like the old ones. They’re exactly the same. But different.

There’s only two stores in Sydney. One at Penrith, and the other at Huntongwood. And people travel across Sydney to get there. And then wait in a queue for an hour. They must be making a fortune.

And apparently, within a few months, shops will be opening up everywhere.

And my guess is the traditional donut operators aren’t too happy! Because once people have tried the NEW, they won’t want anything to DO with the OLD.

And it’s the same sort of reaction Jesus was getting when HE came along. Offering a new product. One that was LIKE the old product. But completely different. REVOLUTIONARY you might say.

Revolutionary because he turned things on their heads. Accepted people who used to be rejected. Did things which were the OPPOSITE of conventional wisdom, and accepted practice. Understood the Scriptures differently from the so-called experts. Back-to-front. Upside-down.

And he was revolutionary because he SUBVERTED and UNDERMINED the traditional way of doing things. Working to bring down the establishment. And start something NEW. Like the rebels in the Solomons. Or the U.S. in Iraq.

That’s what he announces in Ch 4. He’s come to preach good news to the poor. Proclaim freedom for the prisoners. Recovery of sight to the blind. And to release the oppressed. Turning the tables. Flipping things on their head.

1. A New King of Work (5:1-11)

And now in Ch 5, the revolution begins. Like always, Jesus is preaching. And because of the miracles, the crowds are flocking to see the spectacle.

In fact, the crowds are SO big, they push him right up to the edge of the lake. They just want to see that little bit better. Hear that little bit clearer. And so they nudge forward.

And Jesus keeps edging backwards. Until his sandals are getting wet.

So he looks around and sees two boats. Partners in the fishing business. And he hops into one, and asks the owner, Simon, if he’ll row him out a few metres from the shore.

And he keeps teaching from there. Perfect. Close enough so everyone can see and hear. But far enough away that he doesn’t get crushed. Like the floating stage they have in Darling Harbour on Australia Day.

And as Jesus teaches, he glances over at Simon. Sitting down the other end of the boat. Perhaps he’s listening. Perhaps he’s just gazing out to sea. Thinking about all those fish he didn’t catch last night. But whatever he’s doing, he catches Jesus’ attention.

Because at the end of the day. When all the crowds had drifted off. Jesus looks over at Simon, and says. V4.

(Luke 5:4 NIV)  “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

And Simon looks at Jesus. And groans. “But Master, we’ve worked hard all night. And haven’t caught anything.”

And yet, for some reason, Simon obeys. His interest, or curiosity, or maybe even faith – gets the better of his good sense. “But because YOU say so, I will let down the nets.”

And so he does. He provides the nets, and the muscles, and the faith. And Jesus provides the fish. Moves them right into the nets. It’s the new style of fishing partnership. Look at v6.

(Luke 5:6-7 NIV)  When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. {7} So THEN they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

And after Simon gets over his shock. Look at his reaction. V8.

(Luke 5:8-9 NIV)  When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” {9} For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,

It wasn’t until THIS MIRACLE that Simon finally saw something of who Jesus was. He’d sat in his boat all day, but hadn’t seen it. He’d heard him speak all day. Perhaps even heal people. And it still hadn’t clicked.

But when he saw how Jesus controlled creation without even a word. Simon saw GOD. Power and purity. Supreme authority. White hot holiness. And it knocked him over.

And just as ANYONE does who sees God, he recognised his own blackness. And Sin. And Unworthiness.

Like Moses who hid his face from God at the burning bush. Or Isaiah, when he was confronted with a vision of the Lord God on his throne. He cried out, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

When was that moment for YOU? When the penny finally dropped. When your eyes were finally opened. And you understood who Jesus was. And who YOU were. A helpless sinner. Who deserved nothing from God.

Did it happen at a particular point in time? Or was it more gradual?

Anyone who’s following Jesus has had that moment at SOME time. IS that YOU? Has it happened for you? Or are you just sitting up the other end of the boat, enjoying the sunshine? You’ve heard Jesus, and watched him. But you’ve never SEEN him. Perhaps TODAY is THAT day for you. To recognise that Jesus is Lord. And that you’re a sinful person.

And just as God comforted Moses, and Isaiah. So Jesus comforts Simon. And offers him a new sort of work. Catching men. Not fish.

But it won’t be like the work he USED to do. Slow. Whole nights with no success. All a matter of luck.

Not only is the TARGET different, but the whole TECHNIQUE is REVOLUTIONISED. It’ll be men-catching just like the fish-catching of TODAY. With Jesus as the partner. With Jesus providing the catch. By the BOAT-LOAD. And Simon just providing the nets and the muscles.

And that’s the same with the men-catching that Jesus calls US to. We sometimes think evangelism is like that dull, empty waste-of-a night that Simon went through. Hopefully, throwing our nets here, there, and everywhere. Not sure if we’ll ever get a nibble.

But Jesus promises that when we follow him, catching men is a PARTNERSHIP with Jesus. He is the one who softens hearts, and opens eyes, and moves people towards the nets. And all we do is provide the nets and the muscles.

And that’s a great encouragement to keep fishing. Because it’s not a matter of luck. Or even of our skill. It’s Jesus who’s moving everything around. Our fathers, or husbands, or wives, or children, or neighbours. He’s doing the HARD work. So don’t give up. Keep fishing.

And Simon and his mates like the sound of that too. So they leave EVERYTHING and follow Jesus. The biggest catch of their lives. And they just left it there!

Jesus was offering something NEW. And they grabbed it with both hands. New WORK.

2. New clean (5:12-16)

And as Simon and his mates continue to follow Jesus around. They learn more about the NEW WAY Jesus brings.

Look at this next section. At how he deals with leprosy. A new kind of CLEAN.

Jesus meets a man COVERED in leprosy. A man in despair. At his wits end. V12.

(Luke 5:12 NIV)  When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

He’s heard the stories. He doesn’t doubt Jesus’ POWER. He just doubts his WILLINGNESS. He doesn’t feel like he DESERVES anything from Jesus. And so he hardly dares ASK.

And aren’t we sometimes like that? We know Jesus can answer ANY prayer we might bring. We just sometimes doubt we deserve it. WE think we’re not GOOD ENOUGH. Or important enough. Or talented enough. We think “Surely Jesus has better things to do. Better people to listen to. Surely he’s not interested in me!”

And so we don’t ask.

But Jesus IS willing. Ready, willing AND able. V13.

(Luke 5:13 NIV)  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

And notice what he does. HE TOUCHES the man. Imagine that? Probably the first physical touch this man has experienced since he got the disease. A touch that communicated just as much as Jesus’ words. “Jesus really DOES care!”

And what happens? The clean invades the unclean. And the leper is healed.

You see, in those days, lepers were outcasts. The Old Testament law said that anyone who TOUCHED a leper was made unclean. Their IMPURITY moved from unclean to clean, and made the clean dirty.

But here the OPPOSITE is happening. Does the impure contaminate the pure? Does the dirty foul up the clean. No

The CLEAN purifies the unclean. The pure cleans up the impure. And the leper is healed. A new kind of clean.

New healing (5:17-26)

Next Jesus goes one step further. He’s cleansed the OUTSIDE. Now he’s going to do the same on the INSIDE. Which is MUCH more important. Healing of sins. As well as healing of legs.

The crowds continue to build. The lines are longer than outside the Krispy Kreme donut shop on a Saturday night. And now he’s got the attention of the bigwigs from the big smoke. The religious heavies. Look at v17.

(Luke 5:17 NIV)  One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.

And as usual, the house Jesus is in/ is so packed with people, that no-one else can fit in.

And as Jesus does his stuff, he feels some clods of clay land on his head. Some scratching sounds. Then a bit more dirt. And then as everyone looks up, a pinprick of light appears in the dark room. Then a bit more light. Finally there’s a great big hole in the roof. And within a few minutes, there’s a guy on a stretcher lying in front of Jesus. And his mates looking anxiously down through the hole.

And the Pharisees look on. What’s Jesus going to do?

It’s obvious what everyone wants to see. Jesus looks up at his mates peeking through the roof. They want to see him walk again. But what does Jesus do instead. Look at v20.

(Luke 5:20 NIV)  When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Forgiven sins! What’s Jesus going on about? ANYONE can see that what this guy needs is LEGS that WORK. Not forgiven sins.

And anyway, who does Jesus think he is? God’s the only one who can forgive sins!

Jesus knows exactly what they’re thinking. And so he holds the two actions up for them to think about. “Healing legs. And forgiving sins. Which is easier to say?”

You see, whose going to KNOW if sins are actually forgiven? ANYONE could SAY that. And no-one is any the wiser.

But to say ‘Your legs are healed’ is much harder. Because it becomes pretty obvious/ pretty QUICKLY whether you’ve actually DONE ANYTHING or not.

And so look at what Jesus does. Follow the logic. V24.

(Luke 5:24 NIV)  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .” He said to the paralysed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

To PROVE he can forgive sins. (The thing that’s easier to SAY, but harder to PROVE). He’ll fix his legs. (The thing that easier to prove).

So he turns straight to the paralysed man, and says, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

And the man gets up, and is overjoyed. He goes home praising God. Because he’s got legs that work, AND sins that are forgiven.

New followers (5:27-32)

Clean outside. Clean INSIDE. Next we see Levi. A rotten tax-collector. Who Jesus does the COMPLETE re-work on. A complete transformation. The ultimate make-over.

If he can do it to Levi, he could do it to anyone. Because Levi’s the lowest of the low. The complete outsider.

And Jesus goes up to him and says “Follow me!” Levi can’t believe it. Noone EVER treated him like that. Accepted him completely. Forgiven him. Until Jesus.

So he accepts Jesus’ offer. And he’s overjoyed. So he throws a big party. For all his tax-collector mates. That sounds like a REAL rage. But he’s so overjoyed, he just wants to share Jesus with all his mates. V29.

The first hospitality evangelism event. The first dialogue meeting.

But once again, the Pharisees are hanging around. And they just can’t understand Jesus’ rules for membership. “Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?”

You see, for them, “acceptable” people are above reproach. They stay well away from anyone who might taint their reputation. But Jesus is the opposite. He actually gets “down and dirty”. Doesn’t seem to care who he associates with.

And it’s because he’s interested in a NEW type of follower. A revolutionary disciple. Not someone who’s acceptable, but UN-acceptable. Not someone who’s HEALTHY, but sick. Look there in v31.

(Luke 5:31-32 NIV)  Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. {32} I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Anyone who THINKS they’re righteous, has no interest in Jesus. Because they think they’re doing quite okay on their own. People like the Pharisees. And most of our friends and workmates today. “I’m basically a good person. And God’s bound to look favourably on me”.

But Jesus can’t work with people like that. Only people who KNOW they need help. Who know that, by themselves, they’re lost. People like Levi.

He’s JUST the sort of follower Jesus is interested in.

And that’s good news for US. Because that’s what WE are. A great big hospital ward of sick people. All terminally ill. All in DESPERATE need of a doctor. Don’t forget it!

New feast (5:33-6:11)

But the Pharisees haven’t finished with Jesus yet. Because the whole “party thing” has got them troubled. It’s not just that Jesus is partying with the wrong people. It’s that he’s partying AT ALL.

GOOD people don’t have fun! That’s their theory. Look at v33.

(Luke 5:33 NIV)  They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”

And look at what Jesus says. When people have got something to be happy ABOUT, you can’t STOP them from partying.

(Luke 5:34 NIV)  Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?

That’s Levi. He’s been forgiven. Accepted. A huge load is off his shoulders. Life is GREAT. And he can’t HELP but share the joy with his friends.

The difference, I think, is in how close you think God is. The old way of doing things was to fast and pray, because God seemed DISTANT. You needed to fast to get his ATTENTION. So he’d listen to your prayers.

Or perhaps to fast to help YOU concentrate because God was so DISTANT.

And fasting was sometimes a sign of mourning. That God wasn’t acting, or involved, in your problems.

And yet Jesus says, when the bridegroom is HERE, it’s time for partying.

And that’s the situation CHRISTIANS are in. Life for us SHOULD be a party.

(I’m not talking about the selfish, self-seeking, hedonistic partying that passes for fun in the WORLD). But life that bubbles over with joy and purpose and happiness and excitement and serenity.

All the things that come because Jesus lives with us. In his Holy Spirit. We CAN know him. And experience him. His love. His power. His peace.

Does that mean there is no need for us to fast and pray? No. Because we’re something IN BETWEEN the situation of the Pharisees. And the situation of Levi. You see, we only have a DOWN-PAYMENT of what’s coming. Full fellowship and knowledge. The FULL party will only be in heaven.

Life now is SOMETIMES about partying. And joy. And closeness with Jesus.

And other times it’s about praying and fasting. And sorrow. And questioning God about where he is. And why he hasn’t worked in a certain way.

We’re living between the two ages. Jesus has PROMISED the huge party. And we experience SOME of that now. But we’re still waiting for the rest.

He’s started the revolution. And he’s calling for recruits.

Will you follow him? You are a sinner who needs repentance. A sick person who needs a doctor. He offers you cleansing, and forgiveness.

He wants you to follow him. To catch men with him. And to join in the feast with him. What a revolution. What a life. What a party!

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