Hello all! I’ve been off here for a few weeks. No single reason, just struggling in some ways, needed a rest in some ways. Needed to get some clarity in other ways. I do feel i am in a better place mentally than i was a few weeks ago, so I’m ready to come back strong!! Hopefully I have something here worth sharing…
I was reading a few nights ago from David Bentley Hart’s New Testament translation, in Luke 5, when a couple of things from that chapter really popped, like for the first time. It was like I had new eyes with which to see, and new ears with which to hear. Maybe that’s part of the usefulness of reading from different translations, to help us to see and hear that which has always been there, but somehow we missed it.
I won’t be working from Hart’s translation, but the ESV, which is my norm. But I may refer to Hart’s work if it helps to make a point.
Luke 5 begins with two miracles, the first of which coincided with Jesus calling his first disciples, Peter, James and John. These fisherman had been working all night, and along comes Jesus asking to borrow Peter’s boat to push out from the shore in order to be able to teach the people better. (Jesus must have had some speaking voice BTW – to be able to teach a shore-bound crowd from a boat without amplification. I can barely be heard indoors with a microphone…). “And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.” Luke 5:4-6 ESV. So these guys fished all night and caught nothing (I would fit right in), Jesus gets into the boat and tells Peter to put down those nets again, and they are almost sunk by the haul. “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:8-11 ESV. Peter has the only appropriate response when in the presence of God, to fall down and worship, which is interesting considering has failures later on in the story. He could tell for himself who Christ was, even if he didn’t have it consciously worked out in his mind, Peter knew. And he and his brother Andrew, along with James and John, left everything to follow Jesus. In other words, Peter knew who Jesus was, and he acted like it.
“While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Luke 5:12-16 ESV.
So Luke takes us from Jesus getting a miraculous haul of fish and men, to this healing of a man with leprosy. As he did many times, Jesus told the man to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” Of course the man could not keep quiet, just as so many of us who’ve been healed by Jesus just can’t shut up about it already!! He goes and tells someone, or more than one someones, or many someones, who go and tell many other someones about Jesus. Before you know it, “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Luke 5:15-16 ESV. Jesus has barely begun to call his disciples, but word is getting out – something big is happening. A man, Yeshua of Nazareth, has the spirit of God in his teaching and the power of God in his hands. The power to heal. And even though Jesus was always telling those he healed to tell no one about him, when you have Good News like this, that you were leprous and outcast and set apart and rejected and not even allowed in the town, not allowed physical contact with other human beings, had no hope of recovery or healing, no one who even wanted to help you, but now you’ve been touched by one who would not reject you, you’ve been made clean by one who did not fear you, what are you going to do? What else are you going to tell the people in town who know who you are? How else can you explain to them that you who once had to shout “UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!” every time someone came near have been made pure and clean and acceptable again? What else can you do but proclaim the Good News??!!
So of course the word gets out. And people will come. As Jesus told us, when you have such Good News that the blind see, the deaf hear, the leper is clean, the lame walk, the dead are raised, and even the poor get some good news, “…people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.” Luke 13:29 ESV. And so they will come. Some news is just too good to keep quiet.
And I never even got to my point today. There’s always tomorrow.