Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 5 Study Notes
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 5 July 15, 2007 Lincolnton, NC
30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
1901 ASV Translation:
30 And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with the publicans and sinners?
31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are in health have no need of a physician; but they that are sick.
32 I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
I. The 'Religious' Backlash.
A. The Pharisees and their scribes...
1. The first mention of these people by Luke is in 5:17.
a. This is the beginning of the record of the "official" opposition to Jesus by the religious establishment. The demons have already voiced their objections; now those who have bought into demonic doctrine are beginning to react also. Luke had already recorded the reaction of those who lived in Nazareth, but that was a localized reaction. The one recorded in 5:17 and following includes such officials "from every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem".
b. The reaction is "theological": Who can forgive sins but God?
2. This second mention centers upon Jesus and His disciples "eating and drinking with tax gatherers and sinners".
a. This is a significantly different issue from "blasphemy". In "blasphemy", the issue is the profession of the ability to exercise divine prerogative. In this present setting, the issue is "association". The automatic question that arises is this: Is there any comparability between "blasphemy" and "association"?
b. Eating and drinking "with" implies a certain amount of mutual acceptance. The "problem" is that Jesus is presenting God as One Who "tolerates" the behavior of significantly wicked people. Ostracism is presented in the Scriptures as "the" ultimate tool in dealing with the willfully wicked, and "separation" is urged upon those who would practice godliness. Eating and drinking with the wicked tends to blur the issues of godliness and to break down the distinctions. The theology of the Pharisees demanded that people "choose" their loyalties and make a clean break with those who chose opposite ones. The theology of Paul made the same demands (2 Thessalonians 3:14), but within certain strictures (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
c. It is interesting that Jesus' call of Levi clearly removed Levi from the "business" of collecting taxes for Rome, but the Pharisees did not apparently "appreciate" that fact. It is also interesting that Levi's "reception" for Jesus was deliberately intended to put people into the "choice" mode and to force them to make some decisions about their sins...in respect to God's Redeemer. What this boils down to, then, is that Jesus' "behavior" was actually accomplishing the very objectives that the Pharisees professed to wish to accomplish, but they did not like His methods. The reason for this is their rejection of the doctrine of "repentance". They rejected John and Jesus, at least superficially, because of the message of forgiveness on the basis of repentance. Their doctrine of forgiveness on the basis of compensatory "penance" was significantly "non-vicarious" while Jesus and John both insisted upon "vicarious" atonement. What this boils down to, then, is the issue of motivation (theology) and method (practice).
B. The problem...
1. The Scriptures are adamant that the people of God reject those who would introduce leaven into the Truth.
2. The refusal to reject those who would do this introduces the inevitable downward spiral of the mystery of iniquity.
a. When God sent His people into the promised land, Israel had a mandate to kill every Canaanite who lived in the land. Israel's refusal to be faithful put a snare before every Israelite. Joshua is particularly faulted in Joshua 9 for not consulting YAHWEH and making a covenant with the Gibeonites. Exodus 34:12 and Deuteronomy 7:16 tell us that this was a major violation of God's instructions.
b. When Jesus taught "conflict resolution" in Matthew 18, He instructed the church to excommunicate those who refused to be reconciled. When Paul reiterated that teaching in 1 Corinthians 5 his rationale was that a refusal would do damage to the church over the long haul (a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump).
3. Jesus' actions in regard to Levi's "reception" were seen by the Pharisees and their scribes as a fundamental insertion of "leaven" into the theological scene.
II. Jesus' Rationale.
A. He was not dealing with "the people of God"; He was dealing with "sinners" in need of repentance.
1. In the ignorant arrogance of the Pharisees and their scribes, Israel was "the people of God" and they were Israel's leaders. They had no clue that neither they, nor the nation, were acceptable to God because of the magnitude of their sins. Thus, in their ignorance, they were attempting to enforce principles of "separation" that did not apply "theologically" because everyone who had not embraced John's message was outside the "community of faith".
2. There is a sharp line of demarcation between the principles of behavior toward those who are outside the faith and those who profess to be within the boundaries of God's Truth. [Note 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.]
B. He was not "accepting" the behavior of "sinners"; He was tolerating for a season.
1. Peter's conclusion regarding the lack of the fulfillment of the promise of the Second Coming was that "The Lord ... is longsuffering" (2 Peter 3:9) for a season so that the opportunity for repentance might be given.
2. Paul declared that God was "forbearing" in regard to sins committed until there has been an opportunity to "believe" in Jesus (Romans 3).
3. Paul proclaimed to the Athenians that God "overlooked" the times of ignorance, but now commands that men repent (Acts 17:30).