Thursday, December 14, 2006



In the last section of Luke chapter 5 we come to an interesting encounter between the Jesus and the Pharisees. After Jesus called Levi to follow Him and Levi’s response was to have a party, the Pharisees and scribes are very upset and offended. So, they pitch out a criticism to Jesus about the behavior of His disciples:
They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking." Jesus answered, "Can you make the friends 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."

The implication of the criticism was, “Your disciples are not as spiritual as John’s disciples or our disciples.” There is indeed a fasting theme throughout the Scriptures. You must remember that the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were called hypocrites, but it is best to understand that word to mean hyper-critical. They were hyper about everything, including fasting. Fasting was a practice, but the Pharisees took it to a new level with a super-spiritual pride attached. They fasted twice a week—Mondays and Thursdays.

NOTE Jesus answers with a word picture: “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?” Jesus fashions Himself as the bridegroom and this bridegroom is ushering in the Kingdom of God. And, while He is here, there is to be celebration. There will be a time when the bridegroom (Jesus) will be taken away and then fasting will be appropriate.

Then Jesus takes this opportunity to do some teaching and shares a parable with them. The point He wants to make is that His teaching and His disciples cannot and must not fit into the mold of the traditions of the Pharisees and scribes. He first uses the metaphor of patching a garment:
He told them this parable: "No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. If they do, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.”

NOTE the contrast between the new and the old. To try to somehow attach the new of what Jesus is teaching to the old traditions will not work. It will be destructive. The new garment will tear and it won’t match. He then uses a second example—pouring new wine into old wineskins:
And people do not pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And none of you, after drinking old wine, wants the new, for you say, 'The old is better.' "

Jesus is referring to the fermentation process of wine. New wine will ferment and burst an old wineskin. Again, He contrasts the old and the new. His point is that you can’t attach the new to the old or you’ll ruin both the new wine and the old wineskin.

Jesus (the new) has come with a radical message of the good news of God. He especially appeals to those who don’t have it together—the broken, oppressed, sick and the poor. His entire appeal was about the internal factors of the Kingdom (the heart). That’s the new. The old was embodied by the list of do’s and don’ts of the Pharisees which had an external focus and much of that was for show.

There is a curious statement made by Jesus that might throw you. He says, “None of you after drinking old wine, wants the new, for you say, ‘The old is better.’” What is He saying, “The old is better”? I think he’s pointing something out that is in human nature. Change is so difficult. It’s always easier to go with the familiar, the convenient, the comfortable—the old wine—rather than to step out into being led by Jesus through His Spirit. One has the visible security of a list of do’s and don’ts and the other has only the invisible security of walking with Jesus, walking with others and waiting on Jesus to lead out. One way is an easy check-list of performance for all to see with all sorts of measurables that can be seen. The other is an invisible lifestyle that can only be measured by God, because it’s a matter of the heart.
Jesus didn’t come to abolish the old, but to make it full and meaningful. What are the old boxes and structures of your life that lean toward the comfortable and the convenient? Break down those boxes and burst your bubbles, so that you can enjoy the new that Jesus has come to give you. It’s not a time for fasting, because Jesus is here. It’s time to party!


EMBRACE the life and principles of Jesus as a lifestyle!
MENTOR others into the Jesus lifestyle!
BELIEVE God will raise up leaders and resources!
EMPOWER the youth of the world!
RESTORE the broken, fallen, wounded, abused and addicted!
SERVE everyone in the spirit and love of Jesus!


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