Luke 5:17-32 (ESV)
17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but 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 midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” 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.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Again, Jesus taught. All sorts of religious officials were present. Some came from Galilee, some from Judea, and the most prominent came from Jerusalem. On this occasion, the house that Jesus was teaching from was so crowded it became almost impossible to get to him. So some very determined men scaled the walls, climbed on the roof, shuffled around a few tiles, and lowered their paralyzed friend on a mat right in front of Jesus. What faith! Jesus looked at the paralyzed man and forgave his sins. The religious leaders were outraged! Whom did Jesus think he was? Forgiving sins? Did he think he was God? Knowing what was in their hearts, Jesus cured the man, proving he had the authority to heal the physically and the spiritually sick. Those who witnessed the event were awestruck. Luke transitions to Levi in verse 27. Although he was a tax collector, Jesus singled him out. Tax collectors were quite unpopular with the Jewish community, yet Jesus specifically called Levi to come with him. Levi dropped everything to follow, willing to make Jesus his number one priority in life. Then Levi prepared a great feast in Jesus’ honor, and many other tax collectors showed up. He couldn’t wait for his friends to get to know Jesus. The religious leaders were not “cool” with this at all. No Pharisee would be caught dead eating with such spiritual losers. Again, what was Jesus doing?
Jesus responded to those who grumbled against him for eating with “sinners” by saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” The religious leaders saw themselves as spiritually healthy with no need for the healing of Jesus. But the religious leaders were blinded by self-righteousness. No person can come to Jesus unless she sees her spiritual lack. Many are like the Pharisees and scribes, who didn’t see their need for a Savior. They wrongly think that if they end up standing before the throne of God, they will be allowed entrance into his Kingdom because they are “good” people. If you recognize that you are not good and have placed your trust in Jesus, realize that you have been chosen just like Levi. If you are a follower of Jesus, he specifically asked you to come with him. What an honor and a reason for rejoicing today!