Jesus calls his disciples

“Jesus Calls Disciples” Luke 5

Luke puts these four stories from the life of Jesus together. What do they have in common?
• After preaching from Simon Peter’s boat, Jesus causes a miraculous catch of fish and then calls Peter to follow him.

• After healing a leper, Jesus tells him to show himself to the high priest but to not tell anybody and then Jesus goes off by himself to pray as was his custom.

• While Jesus was teaching in a house, some men tear up the roof to lower their paralyzed friend down to Jesus who first forgives his sins and then heals his paralysis; this to the astonishment everyone in the house and the dismay of the Rabbis.

• After a tax collector heeds the call to follow Jesus, he holds a party for all his friends to meet Jesus but a group of Rabbis object to the company Jesus was keeping.

All four of these people followed Jesus but that meant something different for each of them. To believe in Jesus is to become a follower of Christ. To each of us Jesus calls, “come after me.” To experience the benefits of believing we must follow Jesus but following will be different for each.

I. Simon Peter would use his entrepreneurial skill to advance the kingdom of God.

A. The miracle inspired Peter to do something else with his life.

  1. Since Jesus used Peter’s boat for a pulpit so he was forced to listen to the sermon.
  2. Peter was a commercial fisherman; it’s how he made his living.
  3. Not every Christian is called to quit his/her day job but if we fail to put Jesus first, we are wasting our lives.
  4. Peter was an entrepreneur; a risk taker. Jesus made him a better offer and he took it.
  5. We can live for the temporary treasures of this world or we can choose to pursue what has eternal value. But we can’t really do both.

B. Peter knew following Jesus meant he had to change some things.

  1. His reaction was not, “Wow, look at all these fish!”
  2. He had been listening to Jesus preach while he cleaned his nets.
  3. Face to face with Jesus, Peter feels trapped in his own boat. (Isaiah 6)
  4. Jesus prefers to work with people who know their faults than to try to convince self-righteous people that they need forgiveness. “They left the greatest catch they had seen in all their lives. That catch was not as important as what it showed them about Jesus.” Leon Morris, 126

A healed leper also followed Jesus. Leprosy was a horrible disfiguring disease for which there was no cure except to make sick people social outcasts. How did he follow Jesus?

II. The Leper gave testimony of what Christ had done for him.

A. The leper’s disease made him a social outcast.

  1. In the ancient world illness, leprosy in particular, was often seen as punishment for sin.
  2. Since there was no treatment except quarantine, Christ’s willingness to touch him is remarkable. We have been under quarantine for two months, the leper for a lifetime.
  3. The priest was not merely a health inspector but confirmed that with the passing of the illness the leper was forgiven – thus the sin offering. (Leviticus 14 spells it out)
  4. Like Peter, following Jesus meant facing personal sin for the leper.

B. Each of us has a testimony of what God has done for him/her.

  1. The priest had probably never had a healed leper come to him before.
  2. People can debate a theological argument but they can’t dispute a personal testimony.
  3. We may not think we have been forgiven as much as the leper but we all come to Jesus with nothing.

The healed leper followed Jesus by testifying to the high priest. But a healed paralytic also followed Jesus, but differently from Peter or the leper.

III. The Paralytic went home to live a quiet life.

A. The paralytic’s biggest problem was not his physical disease.

  1. Jesus healed his deepest need which was not physical. He needed forgiveness more.
  2. Faith is the healing. (Nancy Granica) It takes more faith to live with illness than to be healed.
  3. Healing his paralysis was an unnecessary afterthought to prove his forgiveness.

B. Simply living differently is a powerful testimony of God’s grace in our lives.

  1. Not everyone is called to quit their day job to follow Jesus, but some are.
  2. “Make it your ambition to live a quiet life” 1 Thessalonians 4:11
  3. But that doesn’t mean regular folks are off the hook when it comes to following Christ.
  4. Regular folks have a network of relationships that are valuable for preaching the gospel.
  5. Christ-followers include people like farmers, truck drivers, school teachers, mail carriers, stay-at-home moms, IT specialists, bankers, hotel workers, veterinary assistants, nurses, engineers, manufacturing workers and supervisors…have I left anyone out?
  6. We can all follow Christ doing what we do for the glory of God as an act of worship and gratitude for all his blessings.

There was also a tax collector who followed Jesus in his unique and creative way.

IV. Levi invited his friends to meet Jesus.

A. Levi gained what money can’t buy.

  1. In sharp contrast to the miracle accompanying Peter’s call or the healings of the leper and paralytic, there was no demonstration of miraculous power needed to convince Matthew.
  2. We are struck with the sudden abandonment a lucrative business for an uncertain future.
  3. He just walked away. Why? The answer is obvious. Money wasn’t doing it for him.

B. Jesus helps people who know they have a problem.

  1. The Rabbis don’t think the tax collector deserved forgiveness and didn’t think Jesus should be hanging out with Levi and his friends.
  2. Jesus gives a wise response without denying what they say is true.
  3. He gives tacit approval of who they are, not what they do.

Conclusion: Believing in Christ means following Jesus in our own unique journey.

Some of us are like the leper or the paralytic, just want to be well. Faith is the better healing.
Some of us are like Peter, tired of trying to make a living and having nothing to show for it.
Some of us are like Levi, all our fancy things aren’t making us happy.

The first thing each of us must do to follow Christ is to let Jesus heal our personal sinfulness.

Peter fell to his knees, keenly aware of his own sinfulness in the presence of Jesus.  
The Leper went to the high priest with a sin offering so he could be readmitted to society.
The paralytic had to be forgiven before he could be healed. 
Matthew invited other sinners like himself believing they too could be forgiven.