Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them.
The main thing Jesus continually wanted to do was to teach the people He cared about; He wanted them to know and understand what God was really like.
As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
Just like before with the uneducated fisherman, this educated accountant chose to follow Jesus and stop what he was doing. This man was hated by everyone because he collected taxes on behalf of the Romans, who were not liked by the Jewish people. Jesus came to help both the popular people and to help those that people don’t like; we all need Him to help us.
Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Jesus wanted to help those who realised they were in need of His help, even the unpopular people that good people normally tried to avoid. But please notice that Jesus didn’t just say, “There, there. I love you. It’s all okay.” He showed them love and care, yet also told them that they needed to repent (to change, to turn around from living for themselves in their bad ways and begin to live for God instead).
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”
Jesus explained to the man that something new and different is here now – He was talking about Himself. The reason He explained this is because before Jesus came to the earth, following God was mainly about obeying various rules, but Jesus had brought a new way – a way of living in a relationship with God based on complete forgiveness of your failure to keep the rules!
Now it happened that He went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?” And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
Here again, we can see that the religious leaders at the time (the Pharisees) wanted the rules to be followed, but Jesus disciples, who were Jews and knew what was wrong according to the religious rules, had learnt that pleasing God was about what was in your heart, not the outward actions you did. They were following Jesus as their master and king. They were living their lives for Him and not for themselves. Jesus was allowing them to do things differently to the old religious way of doing things. He was like a new piece of garment, or a new wineskin (bringing in a new way, where it was possible now to know God’s love and favour, even though they didn’t deserve it) because knowing Jesus and following Him brings forgiveness and undeserved love and favour.
- Ask Jesus to help you to know and understand what God is really like
- Ask Jesus to help you to have a new close friendship with God
- Ask Jesus to help you to know His forgiveness and undeserved love and favour