Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reading Luke 5

Links: my other postings on Lent ; our church's reading plan
The other day, I was parked behind a car whose license plate read "LK 5 31" or something like this. I wondered, was that the one about "I have not come to call the righteous?"

Well, today's reading included Luke 5:31 -- I just read Luke 5, due to sloth; it involved a lot less page flipping than this list from our reading plan (read down, then across):

  • Mark 2:1-12;
  • Matthew 9:1-8;
  • Luke 5:17-26;
  • Mark 2:13-17;
  • Matthew 9:9-13;
  • Luke 5:27-32;
  • Mark 2:18-22;
  • Matthew 9:14-17;
  • Luke 5:33-39;
  • Mark 2:23-28;
  • Matthew 12:1-8;
  • Luke 6:1-5
I don't want to discourage anybody who wants to read that, but I'm afraid I'd still be looking for the next selection when the train arrived at my stop.

Anyway, Luke 5 is a terrific chapter. We've got Jesus teaching Simon how to fish, Simon saying "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8) -- I can certainly identify with that! Suddenly coming to see that someone you thought you knew is actually totally other and totally holy -- it was a terrifying experience, and he wanted to run and hide. Yet when Jesus told him to follow, Simon and his crew left everything to follow him (Luke 5:11).

Then there's the man with leprosy ("If you are willing, you can..." he said). What a great example for us today! Some fault the leper for doubting God's goodness, but I say the man had faith (the "you can make me clean" part) and guts, and like today's 27 million slaves, had reason to wonder whether God is actually good, whether Somebody out there cares about him. And Jesus healed him, right there.

As he did the guy lowered through the roof. And it's not just the physically sick Jesus cares for, but those who, like Levi (aka Matthew) the tax collector, have other kinds of problems (Luke 5:27-32). In case you didn't know this about tax collectors in those times, they collected tax for the hated Roman oppressors. They collected money from each person or household, and sent part of that money to Rome. The rest was their profit, or service fee, or whatever you want to call it. They were well-hated by their countrymen.

Yet Jesus called him to follow -- think of it, the Son of God, taking on a sinner like Levi (or like me) as a disciple. Wow! By the way, that's where Luke 5:31-32 fall: "It is not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners [to repentance]."

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