Bible Study – The Gospel of Luke – February 20, 2013.

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The Gospel of Luke: Chapter 5
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Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ 5Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ 9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
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12 Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ 13Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do choose. Be made clean.’ Immediately the leprosy left him. 14And he ordered him to tell no one. ‘Go’, he said, ‘and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.’ 15But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. 16But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
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17 One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; 19but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. 20When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ 21Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, ‘Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ 22When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 23Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? 24But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the one who was paralyzed—‘I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.’ 25Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. 26Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’
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27 After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 28And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
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29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. 30The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 31Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’
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33 Then they said to him, ‘John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.’ 34Jesus said to them, ‘You cannot make wedding-guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 35The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.’ 36He also told them a parable: ‘No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, “The old is good.” ’
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Discussion
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In 5:10, Jesus says to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ How might Simon have understood this? Is this is a message just for Simon or does it have bearing on our lives as followers of Jesus?
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In 5:12, a leper says to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ And Jesus responds (5:13) with ‘I do choose. Be made clean.’ What is involved in being “made clean”? If this encounter occurred in the world today, who would take the place of the leper? What would being “made clean” look like under such circumstances?
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In 5:17-26 we read of a paralyzed man brought into the presence of Jesus by others. We are told that when Jesus ‘saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’’ It seems that the faith of a group of people led Jesus to forgive the sins of another! Noting the astonishing claim of Jesus to be able to forgive sins (“Who can forgive sins but God alone?”), how might this relationship between faith and forgiveness work in our own lives today?
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When Jesus meets Levi (5:27) he says to him, ‘Follow me.’ We are told that (5:28) ‘he got up, left everything, and followed him.’ Is this intended as an example for us to follow today? If so, what might that look like?
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At the great banquet, hosted by Levi (5:29-32), Jesus says, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’ If we were to take this understanding of what Jesus is doing and translate it into modern-day, contemporary English, how would we phrase it? And how would we go about doing it?
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Jesus tells a parable (5:36-39) about wineskins: ‘No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, “The old is good.” ’ Given that today we don’t use wineskins and so are likely unfamiliar with them, how could we retell this parable using images from today that would communicate the message effectively?
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