Luke 5:29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. :30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
It has been suggested that Levi had three purposes in arranging this great feast. He wanted to honor the Lord, to witness publicly to his new allegiance, and he wanted to introduce his friends to Jesus.
Most Jews would not have eaten with a group of tax collectors. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. He did not, of course, fraternize with them in their sins, or do anything that would compromise His testimony, but He used these occasions to teach, to rebuke, and to bless.
Their scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for associating with these despised people, the dregs of society.
Luke 5:31 Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
Jesus answered that His action was in perfect accord with His purpose in coming into the world. Healthy people do not need a doctor; only those who are sick do.
Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
The Pharisees considered themselves to be righteous. They had no deep sense of sin or of need. Therefore, they could not benefit from the ministry of the Great Physician.
But these tax collectors and sinners realized that they were sinners and that they needed to be saved from their sins.
It was for people like them that the Savior came. Actually, the Pharisees were not righteous. They needed to be saved as much as the tax collectors. But they were unwilling to confess their sins and acknowledge their guilt. And so they criticized the Doctor for going to people who were seriously ill.
People Ask About Going Without Eating
Luke 5:33 Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?”
The next tactic of the Pharisees was to interrogate Jesus on the custom of fasting. After all, the disciples of John the Baptist had followed the ascetic life of their master. And the followers of the Pharisees observed various ceremonial fasts. But Jesus’ disciples did not.
Luke 5:34 And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? :35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.”
The Lord answered in effect that there was no reason for His disciples to fast while He was still with them. Here He associates fasting with sorrow and mourning. When He would be taken away from them, that is, violently, in death, they would fast as an expression of their grief.
Luke 5:36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.
Three parables follow which teach that a new dispensation had begun, and there could be no mixing of the new and the old.
In the first parable, the old garment speaks of the legal system or dispensation, while the new garment pictures the era of grace. They are incompatible. An attempt to mix law and grace results in a spoiling of both. A patch taken from a new garment spoils the new one, and it does not match the old one, either in appearance or strength.
J. N. Darby states it well: “Jesus would do no such thing as tack on Christianity to Judaism. Flesh and law go together, but grace and law, God’s righteousness and man’s, will never mix.”
Luke 5:37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. :38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
The second parable teaches the folly of putting new wine into old wineskins. The fermenting action of the new wine causes pressure on the skins which they are no longer pliable or elastic enough to bear. The skins burst and the wine is spilled. The outmoded forms, ordinances, traditions, and rituals of Judaism were too rigid to hold the joy, the exuberance, and the energy of the new dispensation. The new wine is seen in this chapter in the unconventional methods of the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus. It is seen in the freshness and zeal of Levi. The old wineskins picture the stodginess and cold formalism of the Pharisees.
Luke 5:39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ”
The third parable states that no one, having drunk old wine, prefers new. He says, “The old is better.” This pictures the natural reluctance of men to abandon the old for the new, Judaism for Christianity, law for grace, shadows for substance! As Darby says, “A man accustomed to forms, human arrangements, father’s religion, etc., never likes the new principle and power of the kingdom.”
A Question About the Sabbath
Luke 6:1 Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. :2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”
Two incidents concerning the Sabbath are now brought before us to show that the mounting opposition of the religious leaders was reaching a climax. The first occurred on “the second-first Sabbath” (literal translation). This is explained as follows: the first Sabbath was the first one after the Passover. The second was the next after that. On the second Sabbath after the first, the Lord and His disciples walked through some grainfields. The disciples plucked some grain, rubbed the kernels in their hands, and ate them. The Pharisees could not quarrel about the fact of the grain being taken; this was permitted by the law (Deut. 23:25). Their criticism was that it was done on the Sabbath. They sometimes called the plucking of grain a harvesting operation, and the rubbing of the grain a threshing operation.
Luke 6:3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: :4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” :5 And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
The Lord’s answer, using an incident from the life of David, was that the law of the Sabbath was never intended to forbid a work of necessity.
Rejected and pursued, David and his men were hungry. They went into the house of God and ate the showbread, which ordinarily was reserved for the priests. God made an exception in David’s case. There was sin in Israel. The king was rejected. The law concerning the showbread was never intended to be so slavishly followed as to permit God’s king to starve.
Here was a similar situation. Christ and His disciples were hungry. The Pharisees would rather see them starve than pick wheat on the Sabbath. But The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath. He gave the law in the first place, and no one was better qualified than He to interpret its true spiritual meaning and to save it from misunderstanding.
A Man with a Crippled Hand
Luke 6:6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. :7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. :8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood.
Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 121). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr., MacDonald, Farstad, Believers Bible; Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2195). Nashville: Thomas Nelson