Hello everybody and welcome in to episode 184 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Luke 5 today and our focus is on how our greatest need is NOT actually health and the type of people Jesus calls. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in  Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

Two topics today:

What kind of guy was Peter before he met Jesus? We don’t know for sure – he was obviously a fisherman, and beyond that, very little is known. But we do get a big glimpse into the character of Peter in today’s passage. Jesus preaches a message from Peter’s boat, and then tells Peter and his mates to throw their net down into the shallow water – which would never be a good place to catch a bunch of fish with a net…and yet, Peter and crew catch more than TWO boatfulls of fish. How does Peter respond to this miracle? In a most curious way:

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’s knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they had taken,  Luke 5:8-9 

Two options here: Was Peter just being humble, or was he being honest? Well – based on what we see from Peter in other instances in his early years with Jesus, my bet is that he was being more honest than humble. Seeing Jesus perform this miracle, and realizing God was with Him in a mighty way (Peter probably didn’t realize WHO Jesus was at this point), Peter was suddenly aware of his utter sinfulness, and it overwhelmed him. Likewise, later in the passage, we see Jesus calling Matthew/Levi – a tax collector. While it is certainly possible that Matthew was that rare tax collector who was scrupulously honest, it is quite true that his profession was hated and despised by the Jewish people in the first century. At the very least, even if Matthew was honest and good hearted, he would have been FAR from popular and well liked. And yet, Jesus calls sinful Peter and unpopular Matthew to crucial and important places on His disciple team. Peter would go on to become the de facto  leader of the disciples after the death of Jesus, dictating the book of Mark and also writing 1 and 2nd Peter, and Matthew would go on to write the gospel of Matthew and become one of the greatest witnesses of the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus in history. So – who does Jesus call? Sinful people. Unpopular people. Unimportant people. And – behold – who He turns them into! I don’t know about you, but I take great comfort in that, because I was something of a scoundrel when Jesus called me.

Let’s read our passage, and then we will discuss why in the world Jesus forgave the paralytic BEFORE He healed him.

Go to any church prayer meeting, and it is likely that the majority of the requests will be health related. It is a good and Godly and commanded thing (see James 5) for us to pray for healing in the church – no complaint there. But I do sometimes wonder if we have overprioritized the health of people, at least in our prayer requests. Maybe I should just speak for myself – when I look at the Word of God, I am convicted that I spend too much time praying for health related requests versus other things that I might be praying about. There is a couple of big reasons that I say that. First, you don’t see much mention of health and healing in many of the recorded prayers of the Bible – either in the Lord’s prayer, or Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 nor in the apostolic prayers that we find scattered throughout Scripture. Again, this isn’t to minimize healing: We can clearly see in the Gospels and book of Acts how the proclamation of the good news and the healing and deliverance of people went hand in glove – much more so than we see in today’s modern western churches. Another reason why I think we might have health as too high of a priority in our prayers is our passage today – the famous story of Jesus and the paralytic. Consider what happens:

18 Just then some men came, carrying on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and set him down before him. 19 Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus.20 Seeing their faith he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:18-21

Immediately after Jesus does this – the Scribes and Pharisees are furious that Jesus had the audacity to forgive sins – WHO does this guy think He is, they wonder. But you know what? That’s not at all my biggest question – my biggest question is quite simply this: Why does the most compassionate and wise person that ever walked the face of the earth FORGIVE the paralytic before He heals Him? And the answer couldn’t be clearer, because it is crystal clear that Jesus does what He does for a reason. First He FORGIVES the man, then He heals the man. Why? Because this man’s greatest need – and your greatest need – and my greatest need is forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Isaiah 59 NAILS our position before God prior to being saved by Jesus:

Indeed, the Lord’s arm is not too weak to save,
and his ear is not too deaf to hear.
But your iniquities are separating you
from your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not listen.  Isaiah 59:1-2

Our SINS are our biggest problem, because our sins separate us from God and bar us from entering Heaven. Yes, that paralytic man had a desperate need for physical healing, but his need for forgiveness and reconciliation was even greater. What has Jesus done for us? According to Colossians 1:22:

But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him—

So, don’t let this at all limit you in seeking prayer for physical healing. That is a good and God-honoring thing to do – just remember, when we are talking about eternity – temporary physical healing is not nearly as important as permanent spiritual forgiveness and reconciliation.

Bible Memory verses for the month of July: 47I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.” Luke 6:47-48

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