Two incidents in Luke 5 illustrate not only Satan’s tactics but the way Jesus speaks up for His disciples.
Next, Luke records the healing of a man with leprosy and a paralytic and the calling of Levi the tax collector to follow Him.
This is when the Pharisees come in. And this is when they begin to attack Jesus, not directly, but through His disciples.
When they see Jesus and the disciples eating at a great banquet hosted by Levi, they come not to Jesus but to the disciples, grumbling, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’? (v. 30) The Greek word for “grumbling” here means “to murmur, mutter, say anything against in a low tone,” indicating they mean their words for the disciples’ ears only .
Why complain to Jesus’ disciples? Because the Pharisees have seen Jesus’ power and don’t want to confront Him? Because the new disciples have little experience with being challenged?
Whatever the reason, Jesus answers the challenge: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
The Pharisees direct their next criticism directly to Jesus about His disciples: “The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.” 5:33
Again, Jesus defends their actions. “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
Two observations here: 1) The opponents of Christ attack Him through His disciples; 2) Jesus is aware of what is happening and steps in to defend His followers.
Is it any different today? When opponents of God attack His followers for alleged ignorance, for our unwillingness to follow society’s lead, for our stances on moral issues, we must ask ourselves: Is their problem with us, or with God?
First, we must be sure that we are indeed pursuing God’s cause and not our own political ambitions. If it is for God we live, then Paul in his eloquence gives us confidence.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Satan is still attacking vulnerable disciples through criticism. And when he does, we tend to take it personally.
If we know His Word, Jesus is still in us and will defend us – much like He defended Himself from Satan’s temptations by reciting Old Testament Scripture (Luke 4:1-13).
As long as the Word of Christ is part of us, as long as we have access to Him through prayer, He will continue to answer on our behalf and protect us from evil. (Matthew 6:13).