This portion of Chapter 5 contains three stories and a teaching section. This is part of a longer section of the gospel that continues into the next chapter in which Jesus responds to criticisms of him and his ministry. Having related typical events in the ministry of Jesus that have resulted in his fame and growing popularity up to this point, Luke turns to typical criticisms of him. These should not be viewed as a chronological account of events in the life of Jesus, but a relating of typical controveries which surrounded his ministry. Luke is not providing a “biography” of Jesus for the reader, but a “gospel” – a telling of the “good news” of Jesus. Clues to when Luke is relating typical events are his use of terms like “on one of those days,” “after this,” “on a sabbath,” “on another sabbath.” According to Interpretation commentary, “Luke is saying, “I have related to you some of Jesus’ activities that generated great popularity; now here is the other side of what was going on.” First, Jesus is heals a paralyzed man by first “forgiving his sins” eliciting severe criticism by the Pharisees, and then by telling him to “stand up and walk.” The Pharisees believed it blasphemous for anyone but God to forgive sins, blind to the presence and power of God in Jesus. Jesus shows his power to forgive sins and to heal. Next, Jesus calls Levi, a tax collector, to follow him, which he does. Then there is a “great banquet” at the home of said former tax collector, where there are many tax collectors present, eliciting more criticism and complaints from the Pharisees. I wonder if some, or all of these tax collectors were among those who had gone out to receive the baptism of John as related in chapter 3? That would certainly explain Levi’s response to the call of Jesus. (Levi is identified as Matthew in Matthew 9:9-13.) Here the Pharisees complain that Jesus eats and drinks with “tax collectors and sinners.” Finally, in response to the question as to why the disciples of John and those of the Pharisees “fast and pray,” while the disciples of Jesus eat and drink,” Jesus teaches that something new is happening. The disciples of John and of the Pharisees, and the Pharisees themselves, are so tied to their “forms” of religious piety that they cannot see or hear the new revelation of God as announced and made present in Jesus.
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