Jesus is the Son of Man
Jesus Changes us
Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me this morning and turn to Luke Chapter 5. As we continue to look through and journey through Luke’s Gospel, we continue to look at the reasons that Jesus came down from Heaven, and the reasons that Luke wrote his account of the Life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to save sinners. The Gospels record what he did while he was here. Luke’s specific purpose as we continue to remind ourselves is so that we can believe what we have been taught regarding Jesus and his purpose and actions.
We have seen his birth and the prophecies leading up to it. We have seen him grow up and become and man, growing in wisdom and knowledge of God. We saw his ministry start, with the preaching of the word, and with performing of healings and driving out of demons. WE also saw him calling the first couple of his disciples.
Today, we will see Jesus call another disciple to follow him and an emphasis on the changes that Jesus produces in us, the before and the after, the old and the new.
So, in that, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage of scripture, Luke chapter 5, verses 27 through 39. I will, as always, be reading out of the English Standard Version. I deeply encourage you to grab your own Bible and follow along in your preferred translation.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke writes the following account of Jesus ministry:
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”[e]
Thus saith the LORD.
So, we finished up last week with Jesus healing and cleansing and forgiving sins. Then he gets up and walks and comes across a tax booth on the side of the road with a tax collector named Levi. Levi who would become batter know as Matthew, the same Matthew who authored the first Gospel in our New Testament.
But that’s not who Levi was at this point. At this point, Levi was hated. He was looked at as the worst kind of person. He was looked at as a traitor to his people.
Now we often hear from scriptures, the term “sinners and tax collectors.” Now, I know we all have our issues with excessive taxation and the IRS, but most of us wouldn’t put the everyday workers at the IRS on par with the very worst of the evilest of people in the world today.
So, why were tax collectors so hated in that day in Israel? That’s a great question!
Rome was in control of Israel and had enacted some pretty high taxes. And to collect those taxes, they contracted out to those who would do the job. Tax collectors would collect the amount that Rome declared and also as much as they were able to extort from the people to put into their own pockets. They would get rich by collecting money that was used against his own people and used to hold them down and occupy them and on top of that, get themselves rich doing it.
In his commentary on Luke, RC Sproul likens how tax collectors were view by the Jewish people to how Nazi collaborators would have been viewed in the years after World War 2.
Now, again, to be clear, this is talking about excessive taxation and extortion. The Bible is clear that taxes in and of themselves are not evil or unbiblical. This is where I ducked behind the pulpit to avoid the rocks you all through at me! Jesus himself tells those around him to give unto Caesars what is Caesars. He was saying this about taxes. But these tax collectors took what the Roman government declared and took over that as well and kept the difference for themselves, building great wealth in many instances, such as Levi’s.
Jesus sees him and goes up to him and says simply, “Follow me.” And he does. Levi gets up, leaves everything, leaves his table and follows Jesus. In this case, he literally pays a high price to get up and follow Him. The language that is used here is that he completely burns his bridges.
Once he got up and left, he was not going to be able to go back. In that day, you can’t just up and leave the employ of the Roman government and then come back, try to retain your job and act as if nothing happened. The first disciples we saw Jesus call were fisherman who owned their own business. If something went wrong, if they decided that following Jesus was not worth the price that it would cost, they could have gone back to their previous career and continued on. Levi didn’t have this option.
Now, we see no details on Levi’s conversion, no details other than his immediate obedience.
Now, as a celebration of his new life and his new friend and teacher, Levi throws a massive celebratory party. This would have been like a big ol community BBQ, or a social event of the year dinner party. Everyone knew this was happening, even those who were not invited or who decided not to attend.
Jesus was the guest of honor and Levi wanted to introduce him to all of his old friends. “This guy Jesus just changed my life! I am following him now! Come see him and see what he is all about!”
I love a story Bruce Larson relays when he is writing on this passage. He writes:
My wife and I visited a well-to-do California cotton merchant who is presently selling cotton to China. When two hundred Chinese dignitaries came to town on a cotton buying mission, he invited them for dinner at his house. He and his wife set up small tables in the garden and at every table they planted a Christian neighbor to be a kind of leaven. All of those merchants from mainland China were introduced to some lively Christians at a party with good food and fun. It’s a great way to evangelize. If that’s your style, you can consider Levi your patron saint.
Now, of course, the pharisees didn’t like any of this. In their intent to walk in holiness, they take things to the extreme. Ephesians 5:3, Paul tells us, but sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
And they saw any association with sinners, with tax collectors, with those who were unclean. Like leprosy, they thought that if you got too close to someone who was unclean, you would become unclean, if got to close to sinners, you would become a contaminated sinner.
Jesus of course, calls out their hypocrisy and their self-righteousness. First, it is our job, our call, our responsibility to bring the Gospel to those around us. We are to bring the Gospel to those who need it. And it will only be accepted by those who recognize that they need it.
If and when we knowingly or unknowingly withhold the Gospel from anyone, we are in direct disobedience to the Word of God. To out it clearer, if we think or act on the thought that someone or someone’s should not hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, we are in blatant and flagrant sin. We don’t choose who responds. We don’t choose who God decides to choose. We can have our own judgments on who is righteous or who is worthy to hear the Gospel or who is likely to respond, but God is clear that this is not our place.
Jesus point here is that those who think they are healthy, those who do not think they need a doctor, will not listen to one. But those who know they are sick, those who know they are in terminal danger, they are the ones who will go see and listen to a Dr. So, who is the doctor there for? The healthy or the sick?
One commentator sums it up, saying, “There are no good people, no bad people, only those who know they are bad and those who don’t.” And Bruce Larson, again, in his summation, “To sin is man’s condition, to pretend that he is not a sinner is man’s sin.”
In these interactions with Jesus, the Pharisees problem, more than anything else is that they thought they were not sinners. They thought they were righteous and were able to keep Gods law and were worthy of Gods grace. Jesus would often and continually show them that nobody is or ever will be worthy and we are all sinners in need of Gods Grace.
So, next, the Pharisees try a different tactic, they basically try to argue back against Jesus and prove that they are righteous, and His disciples are not. They speak. All of our guys fast often, even Johns disciples fast. Jesus, your guys don’t fast, what gives?
So, both for their point, showing that they were extra righteous and against there argument, there was only one day laid out in the Old Testament that God call his people to fast. Leviticus 22:22 lays out the fasting requirements of the Day of Atonement.
The Pharisees decided to be extra holy and fasted much more often. As we see later in Luke, they even took pride in tithing on their spices. There was a sort of “Theology of suffering,” amongst the Pharisees. The idea was that the more you suffer, the more serious you, then the more holy you are. There is a sense when you read the Bible that the thought was that “You’re not supposed to enjoy life!”
Jesus was the first to show us that we absolutely should be enjoying life. We are filled with Joy, we are to live happily, joyfully. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, and so on, these are the fruit of the spirit. We are not to live angrily, paranoid, violently, rebellious or any of the other things that we are looking around and want to side with today in our world.
Jesus says that there is no reason for his disciples to fast right now, because he is with them. Fasting, when we see it in the Old Testament, was mostly for and during mourning. Jesus says, once I’m gone, then they can fast, but there is no reason right now.
Jesus then gives them two examples of… well, its not easily, superficially, clear what the two examples are trying to say. Old and new patches and fabric don’t mix, and old and new wine and wineskins don’t mix.
All right, thanks Jesus, that’s helpful.
So, we look a little deeper. We look at what is going on around this. What else is Luke writing and what message is Luke trying to convey. We see the paralyzed man on the mat from last week. We see Levi get up this week and follow Jesus, leaving everything behind. We see that Jesus disciples are not going to fast while they are following and spending time with Jesus.
Scripture, Luke specifically right now, and Jesus throughout his ministry, is very clear that when we encounter Jesus, there is a clear and distinct before and after. IF we are saved by Gods Grace and repent of our sins, we are a new creation in Christ.
We have a new and different life with Christ than we had before. And in some ways, we will still have some same friends and we will continue to be around some of the same people, but we should and will be fundamentally different.
We should avoid the appearance of sin. We should share the Gospel with said old friends. They should see that things have changed. We cannot put our new life and new nature into our old life. The two don’t mix.
Naturally your relationships will change. Some friends won’t want to spend time with you anymore. You may not want to hang out with some of them anymore. Interests, hobbies and things will change. Your new life will never fit nice and tidy into your old life.
Christ makes it clear that there is no room for your old life and old ways in the Kingdom of Heaven. Scripture is filled with examples of before and after, just like we start to see with Levi here. We saw a hint and a bit of with Simon Peter a few weeks ago. Ephesians 2 is a big one, Galatians 6, contrasting the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. But one of my favorites is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
I believe that if we look just a bit closer at this passage that this is what Jesus was communicating with the two examples of the patches and the wineskins. The Old and the New do not and cannot mix. That doesn’t mean cutting ties with anyone and everyone, though some selective pruning may be in order. But there will be a clear and distinct, new creation in us when we are in Christ and we are expected, nay commanded by God to live that new life and the new creation, and not continuing on with the same old same.
This is the grace of God. WE are saved by Gods grace and by Gods grace alone. No one single word, no one single attribute can fully communicate about God, but the closest one would undoubtedly be Grace. That God is willing to look at us, our terminal disease that is sin, and send a proverbial doctor in Jesus Christ and change us, through faith in Christ and sanctify us and wash us in the blood of Christ. That is Grace.
In that mold, I’m going to finish with some of the lyrics of Amazing Grace and then Ill close us in Prayer.
Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.
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