A Change of Heart


A Change of Heart


Luke 5:27-39




The Market Garden was coming to life again after the long hard winter. It was time to harvest the last of the winter crops - the leeks, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and sprouts. Then they would need to get all the spring vegetables into the ground.  There was so much to do at this time of year that they always took on extra staff.  Some of them didnt have much experience so Sue, the head gardener, felt a bit harassed as she tried to keep tabs on the seasonal workers in their various jobs.


Ian was one of the new boys.  He had been taken on just a few weeks ago and was a bit of a harum skarum individual. He had a wife and 3 kids to look after and always looked as if he was just new up in the morning. His shirt tail was usually hanging out, he had a tousel of long unkempt hair, usually a three day stubble and he could have done with a better pair of boots. His pedigree was largely a mystery but he talked a lot about the various jobs hed had in his time. The reasons he gave for leaving them and moving on were usually the same. He had a fall out with someone who didnt like his rather casual attitude to rules and regulations. Despite that Ian got on well with the other lads and could do a good days work. Sue had noticed that Ians piece bag sometimes bulged with stolen fruit and vegetables as he went out of the gate at night. She had challenged him about this once but Ian only laughed and said theyd never be missed.


How different Steve was to Ian.  Steve had been taken on straight from school and over the 20 years he had been with them, Sue had taught him all she knew about the ways of market gardening. As a result Steve looked on himself as Sues right hand man. It was true that he had a good knowledge of gardening but he used this knowledge to throw his weight about, especially when Sue was not there. He was usually given the more important jobs to do such as pruning the fan-trained peaches and apricots on the south wall, sowing seeds of summer salads in the polytunnels and all the mini-tractor work. He loved to tell people what to do and thought he knew it all. He was always criticising the more inexperienced staff members. As far as Steve was concerned Ian in particular was a no-hoper. Steve treated him very badly and bullied him when Sue was not around. Steve didnt mix very much with the rest of the staff because he wanted them to think he was more on a level with the management than the labourers. But because of his superior attitude no-one really liked him very much.


Ian and Steve were two different characters.

Today we look at two very different types of people, both of them needed a change of heart.


Luke 5:27-39



Jews who collected taxes on behalf of the Romans - the occupying power

Other collectors under them (debt-collectors)

Wealthy - Levi held big feast (great banquet NIV) for all his friends

Income through commission - collecting more than required by Romans

Dishonest - Lk 3:13, 19:8, Selfish - Matt 5:46



They were working for the Romans - traitors

They had contact with Gentiles - Unclean (Peter & Cornelius Ac 10:28)

Worked on the Sabbath - did not keep “the Law”



Saw their faults & failings

They were sick and needed a doctor - opportunity to repent - to change

Meal a sign of friendship & acceptance




“The separated ones” - a religious sect. Good-living people

From time of Ezra - return from Exile in Babylon

Believed the Exile was due to Israel’s failure to keep Law of Moses

Teachers of the Law (Scribes) & Pharisees - often mentioned together

Strict interpretation of the Law of Moses - Eg. 39 prohibited acts on Sabbath

Avoided contact with non-Pharisees as well as Gentiles

Tried to control state religion



Unable to see that Jesus was the Messiah because Jesus broke their rules and ate with tax collectors and people they labelled ‘sinners’

The ordinary people followed Jesus and his teaching so they lost their power over them



They were self-righteous & judgemental - sinners - needed to repent

Jesus cared about them - told a parable to help them see themselves


NEW WINE - “sweet wine”

Repentance - salvation through faith in Jesus - inclusive - for everyone

NEW WINESKINS - new wine fermenting - wineskins flexible - expanded

People willing to receive Jesus offer of salvation through faith

willing to repent & change - the focus of LENT



The Law - legalism - salvation through keeping the rules - exclusive - for the religious elite

OLD WINESKINS - hard, rigid - split if new wine put in them

People unwilling to accept Jesus offer of salvation through faith

Self-righteous - unwilling to see the need to repent & change



One day Steve was engaged in one of his favourite jobs, spraying the raspberry canes with the min-tractor and sprayer. This was a favourite because he had a nice seat all day and would have to do some overtime at night to finish the job which meant extra money. He was filling the tank and mixing the chemicals beside the tap in the yard. Ian came past and noticed that the chemicals Steve was mixing were specific types that could no longer be combined because of their adverse affect on crops. Ian knew this because in his last job he had been a tractor driver for a company that sprayed chemicals on large fields of potatoes and cereals. Ian tried to tell Steve about the problem but Steve just told him to get lost and mind his own business.  After all Ian was not a trained gardener like him, just a labourer for the summer. However, Ian couldnt just watch Steve poison the whole raspberry crop and so he went in search of Sue and told her about his knowledge of spraying and of the problem with these two chemicals in particular. He explained that it was a very new problem and was not widely known about yet. Sue listened carefully then made a few phone calls to the chemical company.  They confirmed what Ian had said so Sue went in search of Steve and was just in time to prevent him spraying the first row of raspberries.


Later that day Steve swaggered around as usual trying to make little of the fact that he had almost wiped out the entire raspberry crop. It was a pity he couldnt just own up to his mistake because when the other staff members heard of the whole debacle they were not slow in giving Steve a dose of his own medicine.


Sue decided to take some action to prevent any further disasters on the spraying front. She offered to put Ian and Steves names forward for advanced training on spraying techniques. 


Ian was delighted with the offer and jumped at the chance of a few days off work at some nearby college of agriculture learning something useful and readily accepted. Steve, on the other hand, was put out at the thought of attending a training course with Ian. He had already attended several courses and thought he knew it all. So he refused to go.


Sue was disappointed in Steves attitude. After all, things change fast in the spraying world, and they all needed to be updated on the new ideas.  But she was pleased that Ian was willing to go on the training course.  She could see he had a lot of potential and was keen to learn.  They could do with another permanent member of staff when old Wullie retired later that year.  It would be good to have someone she could trust to spray the raspberries in future without further disasters.


Ian attended the course and came back armed with a sheaf of notes and lots of freebees from the college, namely a spraying suit, gloves and goggles.  Ian was able to use his knowledge to ensure that spraying operations in future were done according to the very latest rules.


Steve, unfortunately, could not accept the new situation and it wasnt long before he just didnt turn up one morning. It was only later that they discovered he was working for another market garden about ten miles away. After that incident the rest of the staff found that the Market Garden was a much happier place in which to work. And Sue took a real shine to Ian.  He was offered a permanent position and issued with a proper pair of boots as well.


Ian never forgot his experience at the hands of Steve and he always took care to make allowances for the seasonal staff and treat them as he would have liked to have been treated himself those first few months.  Not only that but his piece bag never bulged with stolen fruit and vegetables again. It was a bad example to the others, he told himself.


PRAYER:  Music on the wind by Eddie Askew p.55