The Great Catch of Fish
5 1 Once when he was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. 2 He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. 3 He climbed into the boat that was Simon's and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd. 4 When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, "Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch." 5 Simon said, "Master, we've been fishing hard all night and haven't caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I'll let out the nets." 6 It was no sooner said than done - a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. 7 They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch. 8 Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. "Master, leave. I'm a sinner and can't handle this holiness. Leave me to myself." 9 When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. 10 It was the same with James and John, Zebedee's sons, coworkers with Simon. 11 They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper
12 One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, "If you want to, you can cleanse me." 13 Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone. 14 Jesus instructed him, "Don't talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done." 15 But the man couldn't keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. 16 As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.
Jesus Heals a Palsied Man
17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and religion teachers were sitting around. They had come from nearly every village in Galilee and Judea, even as far away as Jerusalem, to be there. The healing power of God was on him. 18 Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. 19 When they couldn't find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. 20 Impressed by their bold belief, he said, "Friend, I forgive your sins." 21 That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. "Who does he think he is? That's blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins." 22 Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, "Why all this gossipy whispering? 23 Which is simpler: to say 'I forgive your sins,' or to say 'Get up and start walking'? 24 Well, just so it's clear that I'm the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . ." He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: "Get up. Take your bedroll and go home." 25 Without a moment's hesitation, he did it - got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. 26 The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous - and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, "We've never seen anything like that!"
The Call of Levi
27 After this he went out and saw a man named Levi at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, "Come along with me." 28 And he did - walked away from everything and went with him. 29 Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. 30 The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. "What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and 'sinners'?" 31 Jesus heard about it and spoke up, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? 32 I'm here inviting outsiders, not insiders - an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out."
The Question about Fasting
33 They asked him, "John's disciples are well-known for keeping fasts and saying prayers. Also the Pharisees. But you seem to spend most of your time at parties. Why?" 34 Jesus said, "When you're celebrating a wedding, you don't skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but this isn't the time. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. 35 When the groom is gone, the fasting can begin. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come! 36 "No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. 37 And you don't put wine in old, cracked bottles; 38 you get strong, clean bottles for your fresh vintage wine. 39 And no one who has ever tasted fine aged wine prefers unaged wine."