Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 5:27-39 to teach believers that Jesus calls us to the joy of commitment to Christ and in the expectation found in Christ.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about the joy found in Christ.
Pray and Read: Luke 5:27-39
1. Jesus calls us to the joy of commitment (Luke 5:27-32)
2. Jesus calls us to the joy of expectancy (Luke 5:33-39)
Luke introduces his Gospel with a call to believe that Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants (Luke 1-2). Repenting of sin is the first step in believing (Luke 3:1-20) in this Jesus who is set apart as God’s suffering Servant through his sacrificial death (Luke 3:21-23a). Unlike sinful Adam, Jesus is the completely obedient Son of God (Luke 3:23b-38) who defeats Satan himself in a test of every sphere of human life: body, mind, and spirit (Luke 4:1-13).
In the power of the Holy Spirit, then, Jesus moves into his ministry in the region of the Sea of Galilee (Luke 4:14-9:50). After encountering unbelief and rejection at Nazareth (Luke 4:14-30), Jesus finds belief, freedom, and healing for the captives in Capernaum (Luke 4:31-44). After calling his first disciples in belief to follow him (Luke 5:1-11), his ministry arouses the unbelieving hostility of the religious leaders when he announces forgiveness for sins (Luke 5:12-26). After Levi the tax collector responds in belief to follow Him (Luke 5:27-32), the Pharisees respond in unbelief to Jesus’ dining with sinners (Luke 5:33-39).
Exposition: Note well,
1. JESUS CALLS US TO THE JOY OF COMMITMENT (Luke 5:27-32)
a. (|| Mark 2:13-17): Luke 5:27-29 – The calling of Levi plays out a central theme in Luke’s Gospel: Sinners who repent and in belief, follow him. Jesus calls Levi, with a name that points to the Levites whose job was to do the work connected with the Temple service – not betray Israel by collecting taxes for the oppressive Roman government! Most people saw them tax collectors as nothing more than collaborators for the Romans, stealing from the local economy to enrich the armies that kept them under oppression. Jesus calls him, and he responds with belief. Levi apparently sat in a toll booth, where customs would be collected on goods in transit. He was probably agent for a chief tax collector, as Zaccheus was. Customs officials were employed in King Herod’s civil service. They made good wages and were not likely to get their jobs back once they left them, especially on such short notice. Jesus call to Levi was a great honor, especially to one whose work would have excluded him from religious circles.
b. Jesus, having called Levi (viz., Matthew, Matt 9:9) to be a disciple, accepted an invitation for a banquet that Levi gave for his former colleagues. Levi must have been financially successful to afford a great banquet. That Levi should respond to Jesus’ invitation with a banquet is not surprising since repaying honor with honor was an important part of social life in the ancient world. He wants to introduce his friends and former colleagues to Jesus. Table fellowship indicated intimate relationships among those sharing it, and it was natural for a well-to-do person to invite his colleagues and employees to a feast.
c. APPLICATION: Levi immediately opened his home for evangelism, for them to meet Jesus. Are you opening your life to those in your circle of influence so that they can meet Jesus?
d. Luke 5:30 – Why eat with sinners and tax collectors? This passage has a series of accusations from the Pharisees about Jesus’ and his disciples’ lifestyle with Jesus’ responses. The first is that they associate with the wrong kind of people (Luke 5:30). They should not eat and drink with social outcasts. The Pharisees had special rules about eating and did not like to eat with less scrupulous people like tax gatherers and sinners, or even common Israelites. Why? He could not be sure the food was ceremonially clean or if it had been properly tithed. Notice that the Pharisees did not attack Jesus and his followers behavior (they did not get drunk), but only with whom they associated. The use of “were complaining” (egongyzon) is significant because in the LXX it is used to describe the murmuring of Israel in the Wilderness (Exod. 15:24; 16:7-12; 17:3; Num 11:1; 14:2, 27-29, 36; 16:11, 14; 17:5, 10) and of Israel’s rebellion against God (Psalm 59:15; 106:25; 1 Cor 10:10). The point? In opposing the faithful Son of God, the Pharisees and scribes are following the rebellious ways of their ancestors (Luke 15:2; 19:7).
e. Jesus responds that as a doctor sought out the sick, so his place was with the sinners he had come to save. He as host, in a prophetic picture of the Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb, invites sinners to eat with him (Luke 5:31-32). The righteous, i.e., the self-righteous do not need a doctor (or don’t think they do anyway). Sinners who recognize their desperate need of repentance and spiritual healing are the people Jesus wants.
f. APPLICATION: Many Christians have been criticized for the very thing Jesus was attacked for: associating with the wrong kind of people. The problem is that while we are to separate from evil, we are also to call sinners to repentance. Jesus’ way of doing this was not to shout at sinners from a distance, but spend time with them. Because we cannot tell what another person’s motives are, we must not criticize fellow believers just for associating with them.
2. JESUS CALLS US TO THE JOY OF EXPECTANCY (Luke 5:33-39)
a. (|| Mark 2:18-22; Matt. 9:14-17) Luke 5:33-34 - The second accusation is provoked by the first one about banqueting with sinners. It is that the disciples’ lifestyle is not serious enough. There is too much eating and drinking and not enough fasting and praying (Luke 5:33). The OT commanded many more feast than fasts, but the Pharisees fasted twice a week, for example, Mondays and Thursdays. Fasting in the OT is associated with spiritual preparation and repentance, never as a means to self-righteousness. Fasting has its place, Jesus answers, but fasting while proclaiming good news makes no more sense than fasting at a wedding feast (Judg. 14:17) when the bridegroom was present. It was unthinkable. The marks of Jesus’ followers will not be exclusivist rules and avoiding outcasts, but will be joy like a wedding – in fact, Jesus a joyous wedding banquet for his people (the time of salvation) where he himself is the bridegroom (Isaiah 54:5-8; 62:4-5; Jer 2:2; Ezek 16; Hosea 2:18, 21; 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-27; Rev 19:7-10; 21:2).
b. If you are thinking about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, you’re probably not far off where Jesus was headed with this parable. The bridegroom will be taken away one day, and fasting will be appropriate (Luke 5:35). Here Jesus foreshadows his rejection and departure (Luke 9:31, 51) and the sorrow it will cause his followers.
c. Apostle Paul: “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17).
d. Luke 5:36-38 - Luke, Matthew, and Mark follow this wedding imagery with two short parables, and Luke adds a third. They are meant to elaborate the significance of his coming: first, the old patch on a new garment (which will damage the new garment by shrinking and pulling away from the old patch and also not match the faded colors of the old one, Luke 5:36). The second is about wineskins, animal skins whose hair was scraped and then sewn together to contain liquids. The process of fermentation forces the expansion of the skins. New wine is not put into old wineskins, for they are brittle and would burst and lose what is valued. Rather new wine is stored in new wineskins (Luke 5:37-39). New spiritual realities demand a new lifestyle.
e. Luke 5:39 - Luke adds a third parable: no one after drinking old wine wants new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ Distillation had not yet been developed, so wine could only achieve a certain level of alcoholic content, and it was always consumed with meals watered-down. The alcoholic content was necessary as an antiseptic in the water. This third analogy is about the resilience of the traditions and exclusiveness of Judaism to oppose the advance of the new gospel of the Kingdom which includes all the nations of the earth.
f. The point of all three is the inevitable clash between old Jewish expectations and the new thing God is doing in Jesus. Jesus is not reforming Judaism. He is bringing the dawn of God’s final salvation, and it will be for all nations. This new wineskin must expand to include all the nations with Israel in celebration of the King of Kings.
g. APPLICATION: As we let the Gospel message infuse our lives, it gives us a fresh, new shape, chosen by God’s Spirit, in which the new wine of God’s work within us matures toward beauty and holiness. Jesus must be accepted on His own terms. He is a transformer, not a reformer. He doesn’t come to your life simply to help you live better. He comes to revolutionize it. He does not come to you to be a part of your life. He comes to be your life (Col 3:4). He does not come to augment your ego and strengthen your self-esteem. He comes to crucify your sinful self and teach you replace it with His Christ Life. He is not interested in entertaining you. He comes to take over. He comes to lead. He comes to rule. He comes to reign. In surrender to Him lies true joy.
 The incident parallels the beginning of the birth narrative, in which the priest Zechariah responds in unbelief to the announcement of the angel Gabriel. The Capernaum synagogue’s faith parallels the believing faith of the Virgin Mary.
 Dining at the home of a Pharisee meant you even had to take off your clothes and put on his ritually clean garments to eat with him.
 This passage is parallel to the Zaccheus story at the end of Jesus’ ministry where Jesus says, “The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
 Fasting in the OT was done in crisis (Judg. 20:26; 2 Sam 12:16-23; 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Chron 20:3; Ezra 8:21-23; Neh 1:4; Esther 4:3, 16; Psalm 35:13; 69:10; 109:24) or in repentance (1 Sam 7:6; Joel 1:14) or in mourning (1 Sam 31:13; 2 Sam 1:12; 1 Chon 10:12).
 Larry Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 458.