August 8, 2021
Well, how did you do this first week of reading your Bible regularly? Was it an easy change or difficult?
I found reading regularly to be very hard. My old habits of watching TV or doing something else seemed to call to me. I had to really think about reading the Bible, and even put it on my to do list.
This week’s reading in Luke is all about change. We see the miracle birth of Jesus to Mary who was a virgin. We see a glimpse of his younger years. We then see the start of his ministry, and this is when Jesus changed everything.
I am going to focus this week’s discussion on the following verses.
Luke 5:27-39 in the NIV Bible.
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 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.”
33 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.”
34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
Change is hard. The Pharisees did not like the change Jesus was bringing. He hung out with people like tax collectors that were despised by others. His disciples were not fasting and praying like others were. Basically, Jesus and his disciples were not following the rules.
Rules were what the Pharisees were about. They prided themselves for following all of the rules in the Old Testament along with thousands of man-made rules. They believed that to get to heaven you had to follow the rules perfectly. They looked down on people who did not follow these same rules. Therefore, they looked down on Jesus and his disciples. They did not want to change and felt the rules were better.
When Jesus told the parable about the patch and the wineskins, he was comparing the old and the new. The old way was about following the law and rules as the Pharisees did. There were 631 laws in the Bible they followed and thousands more that were man made. The new way (New Covenant) was about Jesus, and the forgiveness He offers others and the love he has for people.
People today often time feel the same way as the Pharisees. People think that religion or getting into heaven requires stopping bad behavior and doing good. People think, “I’m a good person, I should get into heaven because of it.” Being “good” is not the way to heaven according to Jesus. He says that the way into heaven is a free gift and that we just have to have faith in Jesus and accept His gift. According to Ephesians 2:8,9, “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
This is very different from the Pharisees’ ways. They wanted people to notice how good their behavior was and how many rules they followed. Being able to follow the rules when no one else was able made them feel better about themselves.
Jesus said to Levi, “follow me.” Levi did not have to change before he followed Jesus. He did not have to become a better person. Jesus asked him to be his disciple while he was the tax collector. While he was stealing from others. It was after Levi followed Jesus that he began to make changes in his life.
After Levi became a disciple, Jesus renamed him. His name went from Levi to Matthew, which means “gift of God.” Can you imagine being despised by all men and then having Jesus ask you to follow him and then he calls you a gift of God. How life changing. Matthew then followed Jesus throughout his ministry and learned His ways. He was the writer of the first book of the New Testament.
Jesus says the same thing to you and I as he did to Levi. We do not have to be a “better person” to follow him. It is a free gift. We just need to have faith in Him and say yes.
Have you said “yes” to following Jesus? Please let me know if this is something you want to do or if you have any questions.
Others questions to think about.
- When you encounter others, what is your focus? Is it how people act and behave, their lifestyle, their money, or is it grace and love?
2. How do you live? Are you a rule follower or do you give grace?
3. Are you loving those around you?
4. Do you need to have someone over for dinner that does not conform to your rules?
One preacher said,
“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”