March 18, 2012

Luke Looks Back 06


Luke Looks Back Chapter 6

Study 6 - Luke 4:31-5:26

The Authority of the Messiah

This passage has been carefully structured by Luke around the idea of authority. It starts off with 2 episodes in which Jesus shows his authority by first driving out an evil spirit and then healing many people. It ends with 2 episodes in which Jesus heals a man of leprosy, a symbol of evil, and heals a paralysed man. In between these 2 pairs of episodes Jesus shows his authority by proving that he, a carpenter, can catch more fish than the fishermen can. This middle story is the most important because it shows the authority Jesus had most clearly.

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First we read Luke 4: 31 - 44

Question 1: Twice in these episodes, when the man with an evil demon calls him 'the Holy One of God' and when the demons call him 'the Son of God', Jesus was more accurately identified by demonic powers than by ordinary people. Why was that? What are our modern day equivalents?

That is a hard question to answer. Perhaps the otherworldly powers were more sensitive to the power of Jesus than ordinary people were. Are we as sensitive to the things of the Lord as we should be?

Question 2: Why does Luke tell us that Simon's mother-in-law went straight back to the housework.

Luke tells us how complete and natural the healing was. Simon's mother-in-law was able to go back into the kitchen and work. In the ordinary way she would have needed time to recover from the fever. The healing by Jesus was very special. In the same way when he heals us of our problems, physical, mental or spiritual, he often heals us instantly.

The story of Luke 5: 1 - 11 is clearly the most important part of this passage. Fishing with nets in the Sea of Galilee was done when the fish rose to feed on the surface at night. There could only possibly have been a shoal near the surface in the daylight if a new fresh water spring had opened up in the seabed. (This is an area of volcanic activity). Jesus knew something nobody else did.

We read these verses now. 5: 1 - 11

Question 3: What might Simon and John have said to each other when they thought Jesus could not hear when he, a carpenter, told them to go fishing in broad daylight!

"Who does he think he is?" "Telling us where and when to fish indeed." "What does he know about it?" "He's only a carpenter." "Thinking because he is a prophet he knows where to fish. What rubbish!" And so on.

A boat of those days has been dug up. It was 8m long and 2m wide. So it would have needed a crew of rowers and would have held a lot of fish before it began to sink! So this was a very big catch meaning enough money for many weeks for the families concerned.

Question 4: What did Peter do which he must have done so that nobody else was able to share their good fortune (listen again to v 7)?

Signalling instead of shouting would have stopped other fisherman realising what had happened and joining in the big catch.

Question 5: What does this episode teach us about the relationship between money and spiritual commitment?

Practical rewards do sometimes follow devotion of time and energy to spiritual matters as they did in this case. But they do not always do so. We must be prepared to sacrifice things for the sake of the Kingdom.

Question 6: Peter wanted to distance himself from Jesus when he 'fell at Jesus' knees and said "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man"' because he thought the unclean contaminated the clean and he was unclean. How did Jesus view this? What is the implication for us?

Peter was following the teaching of the OT. Leviticus 10: 10 says, 'distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean'. These teachings were mainly about ceremonial cleanliness. Jesus ignored such things. He taught that the things that matter are love God and loving our neighbour. Ceremony is not important in the Kingdom of God.

Question 7: Peter recognised the authority of Jesus over him as a result of the events on the lake. How do we know Jesus has authority over us?

The disciples had seen a great miracle. But so do we when the Almighty God calls us to follow him and we respond. He then forgives our sins, promises us final salvation at the end of the ages and gives us his Holy Spirit to guide us until then. If we do not recognize his authority we are poor judges of what is good and great and what is of great advantage for us!

Read Luke 5: 12 - 26.

"Leprosy" in the Bible may not have been what we call leprosy these days but any of many skin diseases.

Question 8: Jesus said "I am willing" and touched the man. What does that tell us about Jesus?

Jesus entered fully into human life. He related easily to the outcast, leper man and touched him. That made him, Jesus, unclean under Jewish law but Jesus ignored that. He was interested in the realities of life not the details of religious practice.

Question 9: The paralysed man's sins were forgiven not because of his faith but of 'their faith'. Do you think one person's faith can work to heal someone else today?

If faith cannot work like that there is not much point in praying for anyone else - which we all do. It is lovely the way Jesus says 'I am willing' to heal someone and calls the guy on the stretcher 'friend' even although his friends have just made a mess of the roof of what was probably his, Jesus' , house.

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