The First Disciples
1Now it happened that while Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee), with the people crowding all around Him and listening to the word of God; 2that He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little distance from the shore. And He sat down and began teaching the crowds from the boat. 4When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon [Peter], “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch [of fish].” 5Simon replied, “Master, we worked hard all night [to the point of exhaustion] and caught nothing [in our nets], but at Your word I will [do as you say and] lower the nets [again].” 6When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets were [at the point of] breaking; 7so they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats [with fish], so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” 9For he and all his companions were completely astounded at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10and so were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon [Peter]. Jesus said to Simon, “Have no fear; from now on you will be catching men!” 11After they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him [becoming His disciples, believing and trusting in Him and following His example].
The Leper and the Paralytic
12While Jesus was in one of the cities, there came a man covered with [an advanced case of] leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean and well.” 13And Jesus reached out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14Jesus ordered him to tell no one [that he might happen to meet], “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your purification, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony (witness) to them [that this is a work of Messiah].” 15But the news about Him was spreading farther, and large crowds kept gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their illnesses. 16But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray [in seclusion].
17One day as He was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the Law sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present with Him to heal. 18Some men came carrying on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed, and they tried to bring him in and lay him down in front of Jesus. 19But finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof [and removed some tiles to make an opening] and lowered him through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20When Jesus saw their [active] faith [springing from confidence in Him], He said, “Man, your sins are forgiven.” 21The scribes and the Pharisees began to consider and question [the implications of what He had said], saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies [by claiming the rights and prerogatives of God]? Who can forgive sins [that is, remove guilt, nullify sin’s penalty, and assign righteousness] except God alone?” 22But Jesus, knowing their [hostile] thoughts, answered them, “Why are you questioning [these things] in your hearts? 23Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24But, in order that you may know that the Son of Man (the Messiah) has authority and power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralyzed man, “I say to you, get up, pick up your stretcher and go home.” 25He immediately stood up before them, picked up his stretcher, and went home glorifying and praising God. 26They were all astonished, and they began glorifying God; and they were filled with [reverential] fear and kept saying, “We have seen wonderful and incredible things today!”
Call of Levi (Matthew)
27After this Jesus went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi (Matthew) sitting at the tax booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me [as My disciple, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk].” 28And he left everything behind and got up and began to follow Jesus [as His disciple].
29Levi (Matthew) gave a great banquet for Him at his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining at the table with them. 30The Pharisees and their scribes [seeing those with whom He was associating] began murmuring in discontent to His disciples, asking, “Why are you eating and drinking with the tax collectors and sinners [including non-observant Jews]?” 31And Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but [only] those who are sick. 32I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness].”
33Then they said to Him, “The disciples of John [the Baptist] often practice fasting and offer prayers [of special petition], and so do the disciples of the Pharisees; but Yours eat and drink.” 34Jesus said to them, “Can you make the wedding guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35But days [for mourning] will come when the bridegroom is [forcefully] taken away from them. They will fast in those days.” 36He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old one; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. 38But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39And no one, after drinking old wine, wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is fine.’ ”