Over the past weeks we’ve been working our way through Luke’s gospel, and seen that when Jesus spoke, evil spirits and all kinds of diseases did what he said. Even people who were surely under God’s judgement for dreadful sin were cured with a touch and word.
And Jesus even claimed that he could forgive people’s sins. That really shocked people, because they knew that only God can forgive sin. By definition, sin is about defying God, ignoring him, insulting, or disobeying him; so how can a third party forgive it? And yet all the evidence was stacking up, pointing to Jesus being a truth-teller.
This week, in Luke 5:27-6:11, Jesus invites someone to join his team – but he chooses a man most people wouldn’t have considered – a traitor to his country, who made his riches out of his own people’s misery. When Jesus goes to his home for a meal, the ‘good’ people are scandalised. Jesus was meant to be a model of religious correctness – what was he thinking? And Jesus and his followers don’t look the least bit holy – they don’t spend hours on their knees, or say no to a schooner at the pub; they don’t even observe the Sabbath (meant to be a day of complete rest), because they harvest grain for their dinner that day.
To cap it all off, Jesus heals a man’s shrivelled arm on the Sabbath, in the synagogue (the Jewish equivalent of church) – he did the work of a doctor, right in front of them! How could such a disrespectful man possibly have been sent by God?
Jesus answers that they have misunderstood his mission, and who he is. He came to rescue people who need rescuing, not the ones who are already fine. He is the God who defines goodness and badness, the One who made the rules; he is not bound by human ideas of right and wrong.