Luke 5:17 “…it happened on a certain day…”
Not specific as to when. Appears Luke may be trying to be consecutive in his order of events, but would be hard to do completely when dealing with people’s memories. May have gotten close.
17 “…Pharisees and teachers of the law…power of the Lord was present to heal them”
In the English, the structure of the sentence appears to relate that the Pharisees and scribes had come from all areas to be there and the power of the Lord was there to heal them. What is the object of the pronoun. Them doesn’t refer to the religious leaders, but to the crowd. So, it reads as He was teaching the multitude that Pharisees were there. And the power of God was present to heal the multitude. The object stays with the multitude.
20 “When He saw their faith…”
He wasn’t rewarding their faith, but responding to it. Seeing their faith, He knew they believed and thus was able to show them the result of it. Salvation is given to those who express their faith in Christ by repenting of their sins and asking Him to forgive and save them. These men, including the one on the mat, believed in the power of Jesus to heal, and that the power came from God which would make Him the Messiah. Faith doesn’t do the saving or the healing, but opens the door for it. We must choose to allow it. God won’t force Himself on us.
21 “…Who can forgive sins but God alone”
They were exactly right. But they were also too blind to see that God was present. Who could heal, raise the dead, and control nature itself except God alone. Sin blinds us to all things.
24 “…that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins…”
He displayed their blindness. The power to heal showed Him to be the Messiah, who would have the power to forgive sins.
27 “…tax collector named Levi…”
Betting his full or at least fuller name was Matthew Levi. Scriptures sometimes only refer to a person by a single name. Doesn’t mean they only had one.
30 “…eat and drink with tax collectors…”
How else are those who need Christ going to hear if those of us who already know Him don’t share with them. Jesus wasn’t palling around with them in their sin, and He wasn’t afraid to be seen with them. We aren’t Jesus so we must be careful, but we mustn’t be afraid of them either.
31 “…who are well have no need of a physician…”
He wasn’t saying the Pharisees were well and had no need of Him. He was saying only those who recognized their sin illness would seek out a remedy for it. Self righteousness and self sufficiency can blind us to our need for Christ. When we realize the reality of our situation, we will seek Him.
34 “…friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them”
Fasting is to show our earnestness regarding something we’re praying about. The nation was told to fast with reference to the coming of the Messiah. Praying that God would send Him soon. Jesus was standing in front of them. Why should they fast when He was right there. If they needed to ask anything of Him all they had to do was speak directly to Him. No need to fast and wait for an answer. John’s disciples were still looking. Jesus’s disciples were not.
35 “…then they will fast in those days”
Reference to after His ascension. Today we await His return, so we pray and fast for it. It is something we don’t know, and He isn’t here bodily to tell us, so we fast and pray. As they did before He came.
37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins…”
Have to be careful with this analogy, especially the idea of new and old. Jesus didn’t come to do away with what was, but to complete or fulfill it. And that was His point here. Once a wineskin had been used, it became hardened and inflexible. When you needed more wine, you couldn’t put any new in that wineskin or it would burst. You had to find a new wineskin to accommodate the new wine. In seeking the Messiah, the people would fast and pray, awaiting His salvation. Now He was here so there was no need to fast and pray. Same Messiah, but a new way of responding to Him because He was present, a new situation. Jesus completed the old sacrificial system, so a new way of dealing with sin was needed. Still needed a sacrifice, but Jesus was and is that sacrifice. Now instead of offering sheep and bulls, we repent and ask Jesus to forgive and save us. We now are back to fasting and praying, but not as before because Jesus the Messiah has come. We aren’t waiting for His salvation because He has delivered that to us. We await His return and pray for strength to share Him and His salvation with others until He does.
39 “…no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new…”
Possibility of two interpretations depending on how you view it. If we stay in the flow of the previous analogy of old wine/wineskins and new, then the old would come first. The interpretation would be that men accustomed to the older way of relating to salvation and the coming Messiah would find it hard to accept the new reality, the Messiah has come, and you deal with Him directly. If instead you ignore the previous analogy, then the focus turns to what is better. The interpretation becomes that a person would prefer the smoother, better taste of the older wine rather than the stronger, perhaps sour flavor of the new. The smoother, more liberal taste of the gospel would be preferred to the harsher, stricter flavor of the Law. That seems a stretch to me. Jesus doesn’t say anything about older being better, only that change will occur. The flow of the text seems to support the former interpretation. And it has the support of truth. People don’t like change, even if it is sometimes better than what they have. But certainly, dealing directly with Jesus is much better than having to offer sacrifices each year and go through a priest to get to God.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.