Luke Devotional – Week 3
January 16 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 5:1-11, One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
The crowds were gathered around Jesus as he spoke the word of God. With this large crowd, Jesus wisely got into the boat and pushed off from shore so that his voice would hit the waters and be magnified so everyone could hear. The message spoken that day was not included by Luke but the miracle that followed is.
Jesus told Simon to do the uncommon and put out their nets in the deep water. Simon knew this was not the right time of day to fish. He had an unsuccessful night so what made Jesus think they would be successful now? However, because Jesus was the one saying so, Simon listened and did what seemed to him to be foolish. The results were astounding. He had a great fishing story to tell! Two boats were overloaded with fish on the verge of sinking. Absolutely astounding.
Simon Peter’s response is interesting. When he saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and told Jesus to go away because he was a sinful man. It reminds us of Isaiah who saw a vision of the Lord in the temple and said, “Woe to me, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” The Lord went on to cleanse and commission Isaiah for service as a prophet just as Jesus now commissioned Peter to be a fisher for people. Simon left all behind to follow Jesus.
If you have ever been overwhelmed with God’s goodness and generosity, then you understand why Isaiah and Peter felt the way they did. When heaven meets earth, you cannot help but sense your own unworthiness and declare your guilt. However, God refuses to go away but freely forgives and calls us to service with Him. This is the beginning of our discipleship journey.
Prayer: Father, I confess I am unworthy, I am a sinner. Yet You tell me not to be afraid. You forgive me. You welcome me. You call me to a life of following You. Here I am. Amen.
January 17 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 5:12-16, While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
The variety of Jesus’ healing experiences continues to expand. The dreaded skin disease of leprosy covered a particular man’s body, infected his soul, and cutoff his relationships. He was spiritually unclean. He was to call out that he was unclean so others would not touch him and become unclean themselves.
If the disease was not bad enough, the social stigma was overwhelmingly depressing. For him to ask Jesus to make him clean was to make him alive again.
Jesus’ healing began before He spoke a word. It was the touch of Jesus that began the man’s journey to wholeness. How long had it been since he had felt the caring touch of another person? His soul must have been healed instantly.
And then we see again the power and authority of Jesus’ word. He spoke the simple words, “Be clean,” and the leprosy was gone. The pain and shame of all the years disappeared with two words. Jesus told him to go to the priests and make the necessary sacrifices so that he could make full entry back into the community. Jesus made him whole in every imaginable way.
Let us not miss the point that Jesus’ touch made Jesus unclean according to the Jewish law. Obviously, this speaks of Jesus’ compassion and loving care for another person, but does it not also foretell what will happen on the cross when sinless Jesus would become unclean by bearing the sin of the world? Just as the leper became clean, Jesus was made unclean. Just as we are made righteous by the cross, Jesus was made to be sin for us.
Jesus was busy, but Jesus did not allow busyness to be an excuse from him making the time to be with His Father in prayer. May we determine to do the same.
Prayer: Father, through your Son and Holy Spirit, touch and make me well. Speak the word, and I will be clean. Thank you for taking my sin and giving me your righteousness. Amen.
January 18 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 5:17-26, One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.
18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
21 But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 23 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”
Jesus’ expanding list of miracles continue causing awe and wonder leading to praise to God. Though it is present in the other gospels, Luke appears to include more instances of how the people praised God in response to Jesus’ teaching and miracles.
With all the religious leaders looking on, Jesus took a major step in revealing who He was. As a response to the faith of those who carried the lame man to be healed, Jesus spoke the audacious words that his sins were forgiven. The religious leaders were right. Only God can forgive sins. Without explicitly saying it, Jesus was revealing who He was and the nature of the kingdom of God. Forgiveness will play a key role in this new era, and Jesus will be at the center offering it as a gift from heaven.
Jesus’ self-description, Son of Man, came from Daniel’s prophecy of the coming Messiah.
Daniel 7:13-14, As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.
Again, without Jesus openly declaring who He was, He was giving huge hints from Jewish Scripture. The role of miracles was meant to add to the evidence that, indeed, the Messiah had come. If we were there, what would our response have been? What is our response today?
Prayer: Father, thank you for the forgiveness Jesus offers as entrance into the kingdom of God. I confess my sin and my great need to you today. Heal my soul and body. Amen.
January 19 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 5:27-32, Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. 28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”
31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
In this story, we discover who Jesus invites into the kingdom. Everyone! Tax collectors were among the most despised people known to take advantage of the people in order to pad their pockets.
Jesus did not look at Levi in the same way others did. Jesus saw a broken, sinful human being in need of redemption. Jesus looked with compassion where others looked with judgment.
Jesus invites all to “follow me and be my disciple.” The invitation must be acted upon for it to be activated. Levi made clear his decision. He got up from his table, left his sinful ways behind, and followed after Jesus. This is the response Jesus is looking for from anyone who would respond to His invitation of discipleship.
Levi further added to that response by throwing a huge party where he invited others who needed to meet Jesus. Have you ever thrown a party so your friends and family could meet Jesus? What would that look like? How could you make that happen today?
Jesus clearly knew his mission. He knew he could not get anywhere with the proud and righteous who did not think they needed any spiritual help. Jesus’ target was those who admitted they were sinners and were willing to turn around and follow after Him.
This is the core gospel. It reaches back to Mary’s song about the humble being elevated and the proud being lowered. We choose as to which we will belong. We choose as to which action Christ will do for us.
Will we be elevated because we humbly recognize our need and follow after Jesus or will we be demoted because we proudly refuse to acknowledge that we are a sinner in need of redemption?
Prayer: Father, I recognize I am a sinner like Levi. I need to be forgiven. I need redemption. I need Jesus. I choose today to get up, leave behind my old life, and follow after Your Son. Amen.
January 20 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 5:33-39, One day some people said to Jesus, “John the Baptist’s disciples fast and pray regularly, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are your disciples always eating and drinking?”
34 Jesus responded, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. 35 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
36 Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment.
37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 New wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”
In Jewish history, fasts commemorated great disasters, and feasts celebrated the great victories of the Lord.
So, the imagery is clear. Jesus’ presence says there is reason to celebrate! It is time to enjoy a new day. Something brand new was happening as the kingdom of heaven had invaded the kingdom of earth.
As in their day, there are those who still prefer the tired and worn-out traditions of the old rather than embracing the goodness of the new kingdom. Tradition itself is not evil. It can be a beautiful thing as long as it does not become the focal point of our faith and worship. When we start elevating the methods higher than our Lord then we have an idolatry problem. Our hearts have chosen the wrong god.
This is what Jesus ran into time and time again with the religious leaders. Their traditions and rules had created a religion that became burdensome and overbearing for the people. They were not willing to let go of their many man-made ways in order to embrace the grace of Jesus’ new day.
Would we dare to inspect our hearts to determine if we value tradition more than Jesus Himself? Go ahead and create tradition and enjoy it, but please watch out that you do not let the methods of your faith overcome the gospel message in being your god.
Father: Check my heart to see if there is anything that I value more than Jesus. Set me free to worship you alone and fully embrace the grace of my Lord and Savior. Amen.
January 21 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 6:1-11, One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. 2 But some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”
3 Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.” 5 And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.”
6 On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. 7 The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
8 But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. 9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” 10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 11 At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.
I do not understand how these religious leaders could be so upset with Jesus by eating a little wheat and healing a man on the Sabbath. Really? However, this illustrates how their traditions had become their god. Instead of their tradition being the avenue by which they became closer to God, it became the focus of their misguided worship.
The Sabbath was a gift from God to His people. It commanded them to rest and renew themselves, not to be overwhelmed and burdened with miniscule rules and laws that put them into spiritual bondage. The Sabbath has the same thought of Psalm 23 of the Lord being our Shepherd leading us to still waters and green pastures to find spiritual rest and nourishment.
However, the Sabbath had another meaning, as would be made clear by Jesus and the New Testament writers. The practice of every Sabbath day was anticipation of the new age to come. In this new day, it would be a time of rest and celebration that the kingdom of God had arrived. Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are burdened and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” He was saying I will give you Sabbath. I will set you free from the burden of having to prove your worth. I give you the gift of grace to be received rather than to be earned.
What about us? Are we still trying to prove our worth? Are we working hard hoping God will notice? Are we legalistically living by a set of man-made rules and traditions that do more to keep us from God than enjoying Him and His kingdom? Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, of our rest, of our salvation, and of our peace. Enter in and enjoy Him today!
Prayer: Father, thank you for your Sabbath-rest that has been fully revealed in Jesus’ redemption. Help us to enter in and enjoy these blessings you have given to us. Amen.