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Exegesis of Luke

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Carroll College | Exegesis of Luke 5:27-32 | Biblical Exegesis Paper | | | |

Jennifer Hess |
4/25/2010

Exegesis of Luke 5:27-32
Overview
The passage that was chosen was Luke 5:27-32, or the calling of Levi. This passage presents Jesus telling Levi, a tax collector, to follow him. Levi does follow Jesus, and soon after they are having a banquet dinner with other tax collectors. Jesus is asked why he chooses to eat with them, and he simply responds with “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Levi is chosen to emphasize that he is of the worst sinners. The dinner with the sinners is a part of Jesus’ mission of this passage. The sinners were considered unclean and profane, yet Jesus is there to be their physician. He is there to pursue the faith in them (Just 96).
Historical Analysis
The Gospel of Luke was originally written in Koine Greek (McKenzie 525). The intended audience is Greek-speaking, meaning Christianity was an international religion. The Gospels of Luke, Mark and Matthew have many of the same stories, but sometimes in different words or order. One of the problems of these Synoptic Gospels is the synoptic problem. The synoptic problem is the interrelationship of the three of them and the similarity in content (Mueller 75,77). One solution is that Matthew used information from only Mark, and Luke wrote last, using both of the gospels before him (McKenzie 524).
The two main theological parties in Judaism were Sadducees and Pharisees. The Sadducees are not mentioned much in the New Testament, but the Pharisees are debated with in this book. ‘Pharisees’ means righteous. Pharisees were the only ones who could keep the skill of being righteous (Green 246).
Levi is presented as a tax collector from Capernaum. Levi is of low status and is considered to be the worst of sinners (Just 95). Tax collectors line of work consisted of working on a minimum collection amount and then anything they received extra they could keep for themselves. The tax collector’s name is referred in Luke and Mark as Levi, but the name he is best known by is Matthew. It was not uncommon to have two names in this era. Matthew is a Galilean and was the son of Alpheus.
Literary Analysis
The location of the passage is Jerusalem; however Jesus is in Galilee in 5:27-32. Galilee is a region in northern Israel. The Galilee region was the home of Jesus during at least 30 years of his life. There is a debate about when the Gospel of Luke was actually written. Most will say a date between 63 and 70 (McKenzie 524). Luke divides the Gospel into three sections: Jesus’ ministry in Galilee; Jesus setting out for Jerusalem; and Jesus in Jerusalem. During his ministry in Galilee he performs many miracles, including that of Levi. The focus of this passage at the banquet signifies Jesus’ main mission (Green 246).
Formal Analysis
The theme of the wealth and food is presented in these verses. The Gospel of Luke tax collectors become example of repentance and discipleship. Jesus’ mission is reach out to everyone, “All mankind will see God’s salvation” (Harrelson 3:6).
When Levi chooses to follow Jesus, there is another meaning to it all. Levi chooses to leave everything and follow him as a disciple. Jesus doesn’t say reform yourself then follow, he just says follow. He has been accepted automatically. He is choosing to leave his wealthy side and move to one of poverty. The only thing that matters to Levi is that God has selected him and came to speak to him. In verse 29, he is changed from Levi the tax collector to Levi (Matthew) the disciple.
Jesus exposes to the Pharisees that his point was to call sinners to repentance. The tradition of table fellowship was quite common among the Pharisees (Green 244). The dinner represents a festive event, depicting Levi’s leaving everything. By leaving everything, Levi has repented (Green 246).
Detailed Analysis
Luke’s talents include being an artist and a theologian. He was a master of Greek and can write elegantly in Greek. In his gospel, he uses a larger vocabulary than that of Matthew and Mark (McKenzie 525).
The Gospel of Luke was considered historical content that is still referred to Lukan themes today (McKenzie 525). Jesus and his morals are detailed in the gospel. This book is represented by a priestly calf. The calf is fitting because the book starts off with priests and ends with the calf (Just 2).
The writer of this gospel was most likely a Gentile Christian. The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were both written by the same author. The evidence comes from the prefaces in both books. Both are addressed to the same person (Theophilus) and both have cross-references to one another.
Synthesis
There are a couple lessons to be learned in this passage. The first is that Jesus reaches out to those who need him the most. Jesus reaches out to Levi in the passage because he needs him the most.
The second is the Jesus is trying to recruit the poor and the sick and to heal the brokenhearted. It is true that most of us do not go to the doctor when we are healthy, but only when we are sick and in need of help. If everything was right in this world, there would be no need for Jesus, but since we do have these pains and problems, we do indeed need Jesus. Jesus raises us back up to our best.
The third is that Jesus reveals himself as one of forgiveness. Jesus forgives Levi and then saves him. Levi’s acceptance reveals that he was ready to be accepted; Jesus just needed to turn to him.
Reflection
The primary meaning of all this is that Jesus loves everyone, specifically those in desperation. Jesus does not concentrate on those that are already righteous, but those that are ‘sick.’ Jesus will forgive and accept those that are willing to be saved. When we continue to live our lives independently without Jesus, we will continue to grow in our ignorance. The tax collectors were in need of help, showing why Levi chose to follow. The Pharisees need saved too; they were just unwilling to admit it. Jesus is still calling people like Levi today to join the saved. Jesus will call us while in sin, call us to repentance and call us to share the faith, if he hasn’t already done so.

Works Cited
Brown, Raymond, Joseph Fitzmyer, and Roland Murphy. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990.
Green, Joel. "The Gospel of Luke". The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Cambridge, UK: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.
Harrelson, Walter. "Luke". The New Interpreter's Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003.
Just Jr., Arthur. "Levi's Call and Banquet". Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture-Luke. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
McKenzie, John. "Gospel of Luke". Dictionary of the Bible. Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1965.
Mueller, J.J.. Theological Foundations. Winona: Saint Mary's Press, 2007.

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