Luke 5:17-39 (NIV)
Jesus Heals a Paralytic
17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
When he forgave the paralytic, Jesus was not saying that the man was especially sinful, or that his paralysis was directly caused by sin; rather He was addressing the man’s greatest need, and the common root of all pain and suffering . . .
21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
. . . And there was no error in the thinking of the scribes and Pharisees. It is true that only God can forgive sins. Their error was in failing to see that God was right there among them in the person of Jesus.
This reminds us that only God can solve our sin problem. We can’t even forgive ourselves, because we don’t have the power and authority to forgive ourselves. We must be convinced of God’s forgiveness in our lives.
22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Considering the paralytic’s friends:
“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
The Calling of Levi
27After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
So far, Jesus has handled a paralytic, a leper, and a demoniac. Now He is ready for the worst of the group-a tax collector. Tax collectors were despised as traitors and extortioners. As a class they were excommunicated from the Jewish faith.
He left all: “This must have meant a considerable sacrifice, for tax collectors were normally wealthy. Matthew must have been the richest of the apostles.” (Morris)
29Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
31Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Isaiah 43:3 (NRSV)
I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Jesus Questioned About Fasting
33They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
34Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
36He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ”
C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity gives the same idea in a different metaphor:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
Jesus still calls people, in unusual ways, to come and follow Him. From Wikipedia:
During his 1748 voyage to England, John Newton had a spiritual conversion. The ship encountered a severe storm off the coast of Donegal, Ireland and almost sank. Newton awoke in the middle of the night and, as the ship filled with water, called out to God. The cargo shifted and stopped up the hole, and the ship drifted to safety. Newton marked this experience as the beginning of his conversion to faith. He began to read the Bible and other religious literature. By the time he reached Britain, he had accepted the doctrines of evangelical Christianity. The date was 10 March 1748, an anniversary he marked for the rest of his life. From that point on, he avoided profanity, gambling, and drinking. Although he continued to work in the slave trade, he had gained sympathy for the slaves during his time in Africa. He later said that his true conversion did not happen until some time later: “I cannot consider myself to have been a believer in the full sense of the word, until a considerable time afterwards.”
Newton later became an Anglican priest and an ardent Abolitionist. One of the most beautiful fruits of Newton’s repentance and choice to follow Jesus was his writing of what is probably the most famous Christian hymn in the world. HERE is “Amazing Grace” sung by Judy Collins.