here is the link to Today’s Reading: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=323279561
Leper and Paralytic 5:12-26
There are two distinct stories here, the story of the Leper and then the story of the paralytic. In the story of the Leper, it is important to remember that Lepers were not to be touched. The Leper bows, and without any previous relationship with Jesus, calls him Lord (Simon had already called him Lord, but the preceding passage implies that Simon already knew something about Jesus, and that Jesus had already healed his mother). It is very possible that this Leper had only heard of Jesus and that was enough to declare him Lord.
I am not sure if the naming was the reason Jesus ultimately healed him. In other words, I have to imagine Jesus would have healed him anyways, but we can not know for sure. That being said, I am not sure how much that matters to the central trust of this passage. Rather, what jumps out at me is that Jesus “breaks the rules” and touches the Leper. Jesus then gives the leper instructions, to go to the priest, and also not to tell anyone, and immediately the leper breaks Jesus’ rule of silence. And becomes more popular than ever.
In the second story, that of the paralytic, I am intrigued by the line: “One day…while teaching…the power of the Lord was with him to heal”. Does this mean that he was not always able to heal? Does this mean that he was getting fed up with teaching Pharisees and wanted to go out and do something real? Is is suppose to just highlight the movement of the spirit in the world around Jesus, that he was led to certain places and times? I am not sure what the answer is.
The story continues with this rather amazing story of a paralyzed friends trying to tear apart the roof of a house, so they can get to Jesus, and instead of Jesus casting them aside, he is pleased, and tells them their sins are forgiven. What would this mean to the group of men coming through the ceiling, and their paralyzed friend. To the Pharisees, stuck on doing the “right” thing, it was blasphemy. I always am left to wonder which side I would actually be on in a situation like this. Would I be able to forgive the men for tearing through the roof in a time of need, or would I be upset at the whole situation, not able to see what was actually happening. It can be so easy to get lost in the details.
- What do you think Luke meant that Jesus had the power of the Lord with him to heal on a particular day?
- Where in your life might you be more focused on the audacity of someone “coming through the roof” and miss the miracle at hand?
- Who might we need to touch? Who is currently untouchable in our world?
Calling of Levi (aka Matthew) 5:27-32
In the gospel of Matthew, the tax collector is called Matthew, hence why this story is referred to as the calling of Matthew even though Luke is clearly referring to someone named Levi.
What is amazing about this story is that is Jesus simply calls him, and Levi follows. Given the banquet he threw Jesus and the disciples, it easy to interpret that as meaning Levi was leaving something behind.
I have mentioned it before in sermons, but tax collector were more akin to toll booth collectors in the time of Jesus, collecting fees from usage of roads, maybe tariffs from outsiders. But these were not folks calculating people’s debt, determining the percentages of their wealth they owed to the state. It was also common for tax collectors to take a little extra for themselves. Tax collectors were considered dishonest and unsavory. And yet here is one who leaves his post immediately, and the suggestion that he had money to give a banquet implies that Levi may very well have been dishonest as well, and with only an invitation, Levi repents and embraces a life following Christ, a life living into the Love of God!
- Imagine the evangelist Levi was, inspiring so many other tax collectors to come, probably because he knew them well. Who might you be able to invite to a banquet, who might you be able to welcome to table of the Lord?
- What modern day “tax collectors” do you need to be more willing to see as feasting with Christ?
On Fasting 5:33-35
This passage seems pretty straight forward, or is it? Jesus sets up an interesting precedent here that I can’t say I totally understand, or wish to offer to much in the way of interpretation. This could be read in quite a few different ways, implying a number of different understandings. What do you think it means?
- How does this passage your understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Christ?
- When was/is the time for feasting with the bridgegroom, is that time passed?
- When is/was the time for fasting? Should Christian post-crucifixion (or post-ascension) never celebrate?