I read Luke 5 today. It’s a beautiful read, about the beginning stages of Jesus’s ministry. But I think it has a strong theme throughout the chapter, which is this: sin is the ultimate problem and crisis of the human race, and Jesus is the answer to said problem and crisis.
We see the problem of sin illustrated in three parts throughout the chapter. The first is in Luke 5:8, where Jesus – through the miracle of causing Peter to catch a gigantic ton of fish – reveals Himself as Lord to Peter, causing this response from Peter: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Peter recognizes that his sin is a problem, he’s very much aware of it. As I type this, it occurs to me that this wasn’t a casual admission – this is just my own theory, but I’m thinking Peter must have struggled with the sin in his life and been plagued with guilt over it. But what does Jesus say? “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Jesus says “I know what you’ve got going on, but it doesn’t matter. You work for me now. Now let’s get going.” Jesus takes the worst of the worst, and he takes those that are basically a mess. No one is beyond Jesus’s power of redemption. So we see that sin is not a barrier to Jesus deciding to take you in. Of course, the rest of the gospel accounts and the Bible teach that sin must be abandoned in favor of Jesus, but Jesus will never say “You’re too dirty for me.” Just look at the apostle Paul.
Now, let’s look at Luke 5:17-26, where Jesus heals a paralytic. Jesus’s first action to the paralytic is in Luke 5:20, where he states “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Now I see this as a stark rebuttal to the liberal/syncretic Christians out there who claim that the gospel is mainly concerned with social justice. If the gospel is concerned with making people’s lives better, and not tackling the sin problem, why did Jesus forgive this paralytic’s sin first before everything else? It would seem that making the guy able to walk again would and should take precedence. But it doesn’t, because Jesus sees (rightly) that sin is the main issue here, the main problem that needs fixing. So we see here that this illustrates that sin is the main issue here.
Finally, we see in Luke 5:27-32, where Jesus is eating and drinking with Levi, a tax collector. The Pharisees call him out on this, and Jesus says “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” We see then that sin is the main issue, and is the entire purpose as to why Jesus came to begin with. And we see a core truth here, touched on with Jesus’s interaction with Peter: Jesus came to take on the messes. He came to take on the troubled and the rejected. You are not and never will be too dirty for Jesus. Jesus took on a guy (Paul) who literally murdered Christians just for being Christians. He even, in Old Testament times, granted the gift of repentance to a king of Judah (Manasseh, his story told in 2 Chronicles 33) who was so evil that he built altars to demon-gods in the Lord’s temple, and gave his own son as a burnt offering to a demon god. Come to Jesus as you are, He’s ready for you.
So main point I got out of this: sin is the ultimate problem with the human race. Sin is the supreme problem, the ultimate crisis, the question over which humanity has struggled with for all of its existence, regardless of whether or not it’s known that that’s what it’s been struggling over. And Jesus is the answer. The gospel is not a message of making life better or more comfortable for people on this earth, that’s a heresy – the gospel is a message of what Jesus did and how, through what Jesus did, we can be free from the bondage of sin forever. That’s what the gospel is.
That’s what I got out of Luke 5 today. I hope this has been edifying for you all. Grace and peace.