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Luke 5:27-39 "THE CONVENTIONAL PICTURE OF A RELIGIOUS TEACHER"
Day 63 – Luke 5
Text: Luke 5:27-39
THE CONVENTIONAL PICTURE OF A RELIGIOUS TEACHER
The kindly words of old Simeon to Mary at the Circumcision of Baby Jesus come to mind, as we study the public life and ministry of Jesus,
“Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
And for a sign which will be spoken against
(Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35.
There were many who rose up in their faith in God. These would include the humble disciples. They were but people from very humble, and sometimes dubious backgrounds, but they were now recognized as the Disciples of Jesus, the famous Teacher/Healer. There were those who came to the Teacher with their illnesses. Each one who came with faith went away renewed and encouraged that God was with them. “Immanuel” was indeed a fitting Name to be given to Jesus of Nazareth!
However, Jesus just did not fit the conventional picture! The “teachers of the law”, the “scribes” and the Pharisees were puzzled as to how to understand Jesus. They could not fault Him in His handling of the Scriptures. They listened to Him most carefully. He certainly knew the Scriptures!
However, they could not understand some of His practices, or “non-practices” in this particular instance. His approach to life and ministry was so unique that it looked “strange”. They were certainly accustomed to anyone exposing their thoughts for all to see. They had always cleverly hidden their thoughts behind their many laws. They found that they could not but speak against Jesus. Simeon’s words proved prophetic. Jesus was destined to see to the fall of the entire religious structure that had been built up over many years, but had proven to be deadly in its stranglehold of the religious thought-life of the multitudes in Israel.
THE QUESTION OF “FASTING”
It is not difficult to level charges against anyone, especially when that person was not interested in “playing ball”. Jesus spent time to minister to people who were despised by the Pharisees. The tax collectors and their friends were at the bottom of the social ladder. They were little better than “Gentiles”, that is, people from other nations.
First came the attack of “association”. Why would Jesus “associate” with well-known sinners? Would not association with sinful people cause people to doubt His integrity?
Jesus masterfully answered that query. He spoke of how He saw Himself. He was like a physician who spent time with the sick. Why would a physician want to spend time with healthy people? They would not need the services of a physician. The sick however would desperately need the help of a skilled physician. Would the physician be wrong if he were to devote all his time and energy to treating the diseased? Would people think poorly of him if he were to care for the sick and dying?
Jesus also saw Himself as One who called sinners to repentance. There is only one way to call sinners to repentance. It would involve going down to personally teach them about God’s mercies and love. It would mean personally leading them to repentance and faith in God. It would obviously involve association with the sinners, but acquaintance with them is not tantamount to sin!
The line of the second attack was easily anticipated. If Jesus spent time “eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 5:30), He obviously would not be fasting. Why wasn’t He encouraging people to fast?
There were two groups of people who were “famed” for fasting. The disciples of John the Baptiser were fasting. The disciples of the Pharisees were also fasting. Why then did Jesus not practise fasting? Why did not the disciples of Jesus fast?
CHOOSING TO MISUNDERSTAND
It takes a bit of skill “to choose to misunderstand”. Was it a fact that Jesus never fasted? Luke recorded the fact that before Jesus began His public ministry, He fasted for forty days and forty nights (Luke 4:1-2). Were the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees able to sustain such a lengthy period of fasting? The Pharisees had not checked their facts. If they did, then they deliberately chose to ignore the facts. No one could accuse Jesus of not understanding the purpose and the practice of fasting! Graciously, Jesus did not bring up this fact to embarrass the Pharisees. He could have, but He did not!
Instead of answering the question of “fasting” directly, Jesus sought to help them understand and realize just who He was. He gave an illustration of a Bridegroom at the time of the celebration of his wedding. Should the Bridegroom and his friends fast on such an occasion?
There were so many who were healed. There were so many who had been released from the power of sin and Satan. There were so many who hungered and thirsted after righteousness. They were being fed through the teaching of God’s Word.
Surely, the right and appropriate response to the situation was one of rejoicing! The Presence of the Lord Jesus should be associated with joy and celebration and not fasting!
The Pharisees of course could not understand, nor did they accept Jesus as someone special. They certainly did not rate Him above John the Baptiser. In fact they did not rate Him above themselves. Thus they sought to find fault with Jesus, deliberately choosing to misunderstand His teachings and His practices!
A BIG “BLIND SPOT”
What was the real problem underlying the constant conflict between the Pharisees and the Lord Jesus Christ? It would appear that the conflicts come from the fact that the Pharisees had a very big “blind spot”. They saw themselves as the “epitome” of righteousness. They measured everyone by their “standards”. Their teachings, their practices became “the norm”. This “blind spot” caused them to perpetually clash with Jesus. How we need to pray that God would help us remove our “blind spots”.