Luke 5:27-39

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Why did Luke include the calling of Levi (Matthew) in his account? It’s not for the sake of completeness, or he would have talked about all twelve, so there must be something in this story that stands out and teaches us something. At first glance it’s the same as Simon’s calling – Jesus says ‘follow me’ and they leave everything to do so. But while the story is the same, the characters are different. Before, Jesus showed his grace by choosing someone completely unqualified. But fishermen were decent, hardworking guys with honest jobs. Now he shows more grace by choosing Matthew – who was a traitor to his people and probably a thief. So, God can use you if you’re unqualified, and he can use you if you’re a sinner. That’s most of us, then?

Jesus is setting up problems for himself in associating with sinners, but what a fantastic answer he gives. And surely it applies to me as well as him. I know the cure to the death that sin brings, so doesn’t that make me a doctor to the world as was Christ. I will have all eternity to spend time with Christ and his servants, but only my ‘four score and seven’ to spend time with non-Christians and tell them about the cross. I can’t spend all my time with Christians – tempting as that is – because if that was the point of my life on earth, why wouldn’t I be in heaven where that will be better?

And now the teaching turns to fasting. I haven’t fasted, but the way Jesus talks shows that he assumes his followers will. I guess it’s something I need to try and see what it’s all about.

In verse 36 Jesus seems to be saying that he’s not a patch to sort out a couple of bugs with the old system. Christianity simply isn’t ‘righteous legalism plus’. From the wine, it’s clear that he’s saying there is a new system, which is completely incompatable with the old wineskins of legalism. It’s an interesting comment that those who have drunk old wine will never want new. I’m not sure quite what to make of it. Is he saying that those who cling to legalism will not want a new system where they can’t make it by themselves? Or that it’s a gradual process, as you have to aquire a new taste? Either way, the conversion of Saul (among others) shows that he’s not saying it’s impossible. By his grace, all things are possible.

Heavenly Father, thankyou that you can work through anyone who is willing to put you first, and thankyou that you have called me to do that. Help me to be content with leaving everything for the sake of your Gospel, and help me to be willing to spend time with non-Christians not just in ‘Holy-clubs’. When I look more at fasting and try it for myself, please help me to do it for the right reasons, not to make myself feel better but to come closer to you. Thankyou that your radical new system was planned from the beginning and is so fantastic. Amen

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