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Luke  ◦   Chapter 5

1One time, Jesus was beside Lake Gennesaret, and the people were pressing closer and closer, seeking to better understand the truth of God's kingdom.2At the shore, Jesus spotted two boats left by fishermen who were beside them washing their nets.3He climbed into Simon's boat and asked him to put out a few yards from shore. Sitting in the boat, he taught the people on shore.

4When he finished teaching, he told Simon, "Go out to deeper water and cast your nets."

5Simon, the fisherman, thought to teach Jesus, the carpenter, and said, "Master, we've fished all night during prime fishing time and didn't catch anything. But because you said to do it, I will put out the nets."

6As soon as the nets were in the water, they were overflowing with fish. So many the nets were near tearing apart.7So the fishermen called their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and when they came, both boats were so full of fish that they were near sinking.

8When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell down on his knees at Jesus' feet and cried out, "Leave me, Lord, for I am a selfish man and unworthy to be in your presence!"9When this catch of fish was pulled in, Simon was overwhelmed with awe and admiration, as were his companions10and his fishing partners, James and John, Zebedee's sons. But Jesus didn't leave. Instead, he said to Simon, "Don't be frightened; from this point forward, you will catch people for my kingdom of love."11So they hauled their boats ashore and left everything behind and followed Jesus.

12When Jesus was in one of the towns, a man approached him, who had a very advanced case of leprosy, with his body covered in lesions. As soon as he saw Jesus, he bowed, and with face to the ground, begged him: "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

13Jesus didn't hesitate but touched the man and said, "I am glad to. Be clean!" And instantly the leprosy was gone.

14But Jesus, knowing the bigotry of the religious leaders, instructed him: "Before telling anyone, go straight to the priests, get inspected, offer the sacrifices indicated in the script from Moses–so the symbolic enactment will testify to God's healing plan–and have the priests certify you 'clean to return to the community.'"

15The news about Jesus spread like wildfire, and the crowds flocked to him, seeking to be healed from their sicknesses.16But Jesus would take frequent breaks in solitary locations for rest and communion with his Father.

17Once, Jesus was teaching, and the Pharisees and theology professors who teach a legal religion had come from all over Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem, and sat around him watching closely. The power of God was there, and he healed the sick.18Some men approached, carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher and trying to get him into the house to see Jesus.19The crowd was so dense that they couldn't get through, so they climbed up on the roof, moved the tiles, and lowered the man down on his mat into the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

20When Jesus saw their trust in him, he said, "Brother, your sin is abolished and removed."

21The Pharisees and theology professors who taught a legal religion began thinking to themselves, "Who does this guy think he is to say such blasphemy? Who can release from sin except God alone?"

22But Jesus knew what they were thinking, so trying to help them understand God's plan to heal the heart from sin, he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?23Which is easier: to say 'Your sin is abolished and removed,' or to say 'Stand up and walk'?24So that there can be no confusion and that you may know without a doubt that the Son of Man has the authority to abolish and remove sin..." — turning to the paralyzed man, he continued — "follow my instructions: Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk home."25Instantly he was healed and jumped up in front of them, picked up the mat he had been lying upon, and went home praising God.26Everyone was in awe, stunned with amazement, and gave praise to God. They said, "What we have seen today is simply incredible."

27After this, Jesus went outside and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his booth. Jesus said to him, "Come with me,"28and Levi got up immediately, left everything behind, and followed him.

29Levi was so appreciative of being called that he held an extravagant banquet for Jesus at his house. Feasting with them was a large crowd of tax collectors and other persons of questionable reputation.30When the self-righteous Pharisees and the theologians who taught a legal religion saw this, they complained to Jesus' interns: "What are you doing eating and drinking with tax collectors and 'sinners?'"

31Jesus intervened, "Only those who acknowledge they are sick go to the doctor — not those who think they are healthy.32I cannot help those who already believe they are right with God — only those who know they are sick with sin."

33They challenged him, "John's interns know the value of fasting and prayer, and do it often — as do the students of the Pharisees — but your interns go on eating and drinking."

34Jesus answered, "People don't fast at a wedding reception; they feast!35But when the time comes that the groom is separated from his bride, then they will fast."

36He told them this parable: "An old system, filled with inconsistencies, is like an old, worn-out garment full of holes. One cannot fix the old garment with a patch of new cloth. If one does, the new piece will tear the old apart. Likewise, the truth of God's kingdom I bring cannot be merged into the inconsistent legal system you have created. Trying to do so will tear the old system apart.37No one pours unfermented wine into old, dried-out wineskins. If one does, the new wine will burst the old skin. Likewise, trying to squeeze the truth I bring into the rigid legal theology you practice will fail.38You must have new wineskins for the new wine, and a new heart for the truth I bring.39But those habituated to the old wine don't want the new, for they say 'the old is better.'"