Scripture Reading: Luke 5 - 6 …
Encountering Jesus changes everything in your life … because encountering Jesus changes YOU! Your life cannot go on as it was before, or as the world lives it, if you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord and His Spirit lives within you. It's just not possible. Even before His Spirit had been poured out, those who encountered Jesus saw something … heard something … different. Other teachers had come and gone. Other religions had entered into the world and the people of the nations around Judah worshiped other gods. The Romans who ruled over Judea had a myriad of gods, as had the Greeks before them. Many of the Jews had long since given up on their heritage of faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then came Jesus …
For most of the Jews, worship at the temple was more of a tradition than anything else. Most of their priests and teachers of the law were self-righteous hypocrites, trying to manipulate the people into coercing God to deliver them from the Romans and their other enemies. They didn't realize that their worst enemy lay within their own hearts. The God they claimed to believe in was not the God Who had revealed Himself to Moses on the mountain or the God who had promised that David's line would produce the Messiah, the Anointed One, the KING! Their God was an impotent deity who seemed to have disappeared centuries before. Then came Jesus …
… and the people and their religious leaders didn't know what to do with Him. Luke introduces each new section in these chapters with words like, "One day … One sabbath … One of those days …" Jesus was just beginning His earthly ministry, and His teaching, as well as His miracles, was raising a stir among the people and among the religious leaders of the Jews. He had gone to Nazareth and the people of his home town had tried to throw Him off a cliff. His message was a radical one to the ears of those who believed that God's attention was exclusive to them. Yet it WAS God's intention to keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to the remnant He had chosen from Israel.
So it began "one day" with Jesus getting into Simon Peter's boat. It must have seemed harmless enough, but when they caught such an amazing amount of fish Peter knew something was different about Jesus. "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" Peter cried (5:8). Peter, James and John were all there that day to witness something … what, exactly, they could not yet know. Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men" (5:13). And because the Spirit was at work, they left everything and followed Him (5:14). Just like that their lives would never be the same!
As Jesus began to travel from town to town the news about Him spread quickly. "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (5:16). In order to make it clear to them that He did not come simply to heal people's bodies, Jesus took the opportunity to declare to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven" (5:20). Before He healed him, Jesus said, "That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins …" (5:24).
This was Jesus' mission … and He said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (5:31-32). While Jesus is concerned about our physical needs and has compassion for those who are suffering, it was to bring forgiveness and to heal us spiritually, to give new life, that Jesus came to give Himself as a ransom on the cross. When the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples didn't fast, He spoke about His being the Bridegroom and explained in a parable that NEW things require NEW hearts and minds and attitudes. The Pharisees and even the disciples were used to the old way of looking at things and it would require the Spirit to change their hearts and minds and move them to believe in Jesus!
The Sabbath was a sacred thing to the Pharisees, but they had made it a burden rather than a joy, a true day of rest that pointed to their Creator. Jesus boldly declared, 'The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath," (6:5) and in Mark 2:27 adds, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath pointed to God's resting on the seventh day after creation, and Jesus was present to declare that in Him men could become a NEW creation. HE was, in fact, the new Sabbath, as He invited people to come to HIM to find REST for their souls (Matthew 11:28-30).
People long for spiritual rest in this world in which we occupy every moment of our existence, but true rest can only be found in Jesus. He makes all things new for those who come to Him through faith … a faith produced by the very Spirit of God as people hear God's Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and FOLLOW Him!
Jesus preached what some call His "Sermon on the Plain," which included some of what He had preached in His "Sermon On the Mount." He warned those who were rich, well fed and seemingly "enjoying" life that there was more to life than they thought. There is joy in following Jesus Christ, and His "yoke is easy and His burden is light" as we live by faith … yet life in this world requires the discipline to SEE things and to DO things differently. It requires loving your enemies and doing good to those who take advantage of you. It requires being merciful, compassionate and forgiving - when you don't feel like it. It requires self-examination, which is always uncomfortable but necessary if you are going to be an ambassador of Christ's kingdom.
In His "Sermon On the Mount" Jesus warned that not everyone who called Him, "Lord" would enter the kingdom. Here he says, "a good tree will bear good fruit." Those who know Jesus as Lord will live a life that displays His power to those around them. They will build their house on the ROCK so that when the floods come it will stand. Jesus offers a new life with a new way of thinking and a new way of acting. Follow Jesus and THEN He will make you a "fisher of men!"
"Father, I worship You today because You have given me life in Jesus! Though I confess that I still foolishly give in to temptation and sin against You, yet in my heart I long to be like Jesus. Help me by Your Spirit to learn more and more from Your Word so that I may be a good tree that bears good fruit. Fill me with Your Spirit so that I may be an instrument to bring others to You, in Jesus' name, Amen"