Learning About Jesus — Lesson 1
The best way to discover what Jesus the Messiah really said and did is to read the Gospel. You may find the story so interesting that you will want to read it from beginning to end.
The short lessons in this book are designed to serve as a guide to the person who is reading the Gospel for the first time. Each lesson is based on a passage from the Gospel According to Luke. First you read the passage from the Gospel, then you answer the questions asked in the lesson. At the beginning of each lesson the passage covered is provided from the New International Version (NIV). Or, if you have your own Bible in a different translation, it will be fine for you to use that.
Jesus Heals People
In this lesson we will look at Luke 5:17-32.
17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today." 27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 31 Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Jesus came to heal people from two kinds of sickness. He demonstrated power and compassion to those who were suffering in their bodies, but he also offered healing to those who because of sin were sick in their relationship to God.
The Man Who Could Not Walk
One day, when Jesus was in a house teaching and healing the sick, a paralyzed man came to him — or rather was carried to him by some friends. The man wanted Jesus to heal his body so that he would be able to walk. Jesus surprised him by doing something else first.
1. What was the first thing Jesus said to the paralyzed man?
2. What do you think Jesus considered to be of first importance, forgiving the man’s sins or healing his body?
In the crowd around Jesus were some Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Who were the "Pharisees"? They were a group among the people of Jesus’ day who were more serious about religion than almost anyone else. They tried to keep all the regulations written in the Scriptures that God had given through Moses and the other prophets. The "teachers of the Law" were those who made a special study of these Scriptures. Because they kept religious regulations so strictly many of these men tended to feel superior to the common people. When the Pharisees and teachers of the Law heard Jesus tell the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven they objected.
Why did they object? They realized that to say that someone’s sins are forgiven is a very serious thing. Sins are acts of disobedience against God; he is the judge who must decide whether or not to forgive. So the Pharisees were wondering, "Who is this Jesus? Does he really have God’s authority to tell this man that his sins are forgiven?"
Jesus had to prove that he was not just speaking empty words, but that he really did have authority from God to forgive sins. Answer the following questions based on verses 22-26.
3. What did Jesus do to show people that he had authority to forgive sins?
4. How did the crowd react when they saw what Jesus had done?
The Tax Collector
The paralyzed man had sins that needed to be forgiven, but the Gospel does not say that he was an exceptionally wicked man. He was probably just an average person. After this, however, Jesus met another man who really did have a bad reputation. He was a tax collector named Levi.
To understand this passage it is necessary to know something about tax collectors in Jesus’ day. Everyone knew they were sinners. First of all they worked as agents of Rome, the political power that controlled Palestine at that time. Secondly, they were corrupt and dishonest.
Most people avoided Levi, but Jesus was different. He called Levi to come with him and be one of his followers. When Levi gave a special meal for Jesus, he accepted this invitation, went into his house, sat down and ate with him.
5. Why do you think a sinner like Levi liked Jesus enough to honor him with a feast?
6. What do you think it meant to Levi to have Jesus accept his
invitation and come into his house?
7. Who objected to Jesus’ treatment of Levi?
In verses 31-32 Jesus explains why he, God’s servant and representative, acted as he did toward Levi. Based on what you understand from these verses, answer the following questions.
8. Is acceptance with God possible for a person who has not earned it through many acts of obedience?
9. Is Jesus concerned that we repent of our disobedience to God’s commands?
Go to Lesson 2