Sunday, May 20, 2012

Luke 5 and 6 – Jesus' controversies with the Pharisees

Our tendency to imagine Jesus as a young man being criticized and judged by an elderly religious elite should be considered. The Pharisees that hounded Jesus during his ministry were probably young, perhaps even younger than Jesus and his disciples. Jesus contemporary peers would have been the respected Pharisee Rabbis Hillel (who's teaching sounded a lot like Jesus) and Gamaliel (who appears in the gospels and in Acts, and to whom Paul the apostle was a disciple). These men were probably Jesus' age. But these and other "important" Pharisees are mentioned by name, and Gamaliel in particular was a lot more thoughtful, and not as critical as these Pharisees that caused Jesus so much trouble. So we can assume that the ones following Jesus around and being critical were lesser, younger Pharisees, possibly disciples to these greater ones. If so, they may have been as young as teenagers, and probably no older than their early twenties. The disciples, however, were mostly called from full-time work, or apprenticeships at the least. They were probably at the youngest only around the same age as these Pharisees, but most were probably older. Jesus himself was thirty, probably a good ten years or more ahead of these Pharisees. This significant age difference would have been even more significant in the first century, and thirty years would definitely not have made Jesus a young man in his day.

Here are the five times Jesus clashes with the Pharisees in Luke 5 and 6.

1 – Jesus heals a paralytic – Luke 5:17-26 – Jesus has authority to forgive sins.
2 – Jesus calls Levi the Tax Collector, and then parties with his friends – Luke 5:27-32 – Jesus came to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous.
3 – Jesus' disciples don't fast – Luke 5:33-39 – Jesus' physical presence makes fasting unnecessary
4 – Jesus' Disciples “harvest” grain on the Sabbath – Luke 6:1-5 – Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath
5 – Jesus heals on the Sabbath – Luke 6:6-11 – Jesus says it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath

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