Skip to content
Feb 28 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 27, 2010

No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, “The old is good enough.” Luke 5:36-39 (read Luke 5:33-6:11)

INTRO: Have you ever had an encounter with another Christian that made you feel like you did not want to be a Christian any more?

Some problems with religion are so messed up, they can’t be fixed
– in Isaiah, it was the whole ritual of sacrifice and feast days
– in Luke, it was religion’s external, formal, and rigid character
Trends in religion had reached their limit and it was time to close shop

In these stories from Luke 5 and 6, Jesus steps into situations in which he is questioned or criticized
– fortunately for us, these events gave him the opportunity to defend his disciples and explain his ministry
– we discover that Jesus introduces a new way of living in God

5:33-39, A new relationship to religious exercises

The question
Why aren’t Jesus’ followers as somber, miserable and depressing as the disciples of John and the Pharisees?
The answer:
Because they do not know to be those things. They are learning life and faith from Jesus, not religion

Fasting: An expression of grief or of frustration over ones life situation
– when you grieve, you don’t want to eat
– for national Israel, it represented a period of mourning while they waited for change

The disciples were not grieving, because for them the new day had arrived in Jesus
– life with Jesus was more like a wedding than a funeral
– he was the “bridegroom” whose very presence elicited joy

On another (religious) level, fasting can be a public display of my piety (Mt. 6:16; Lk. 18:12)

What is the spiritual light that Jesus throws on religious exercises?
– that whether we are fasting or eating and drinking, we have the same intention
– we eat or abstain in response to God or in order to draw close to God

. . . he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Ro. 14:6-8)

There is no reason why we should draw closer to God through fasting than through eating
– the intention behind any action is what determines its character
– a kiss, therefore, can be a sign of affection or its exact opposite (Lk. 7:38; 22:47-48)

It is a mistake to think that fasting is for God, but eating and drinking are for me

Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted? When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves?” (Zech. 7:5-6)

That second question almost answers itself
– “Of course I eat and drink for myself. I choose to eat food that I enjoy, is easy to prepare, or is nutritious”
– the question causes us to think about something we do not usually consider; that is, we can also make these choices in the presence of God and with the intention of pleasing him

Instead, we divide our lives in a way that is spiritually unhealthy:
– “This is God’s time and this is my time”
– “This is God’s space and this is my space”
– “This activity is for God and this activity is for me”
Jesus presented his followers with a life that is not broken up that way

Luke quickly adds a parable and how it links with the previous conversation is important
– it is a fundamental revelation regarding his ministry
Some garments you cannot patch and some structures you cannot renew
– Jesus is not patching holes in religion, he is introducing something new

It is also helpful to see how some people have preference for the old
– it still has meaning, or I’ve accumulated credit with it, or it stirs up warm memories
– but if it’s become a barrier rather than a bridge, it has to go

The question that gets to the heart of all of this:
What’s the point of fasting, keeping the Sabbath, or doing what is lawful?
– is it faith in search of God’s will, wanting to please him?
– or is it keeping my nose clean, scoring points, and impressing others?

New way of Jesus is more organic and intentionally God-focused

6:1-5, A new relationship to religious rules

The accusation of the Pharisees was that the disciples’ actions were not lawful

Jesus’ appeal to David’s actions forms an interesting defense
– David’s “companions” benefited from his authority and the respect others showed him
– most people would have given David latitude to bend the rules
– Jesus was perfectly comfortable assuming the same status as David

  • First, what we are dealing with here is the Pharisee’s interpretation of how the Sabbath was to be observed
  • Second, Jesus was willing to dispense with religious tradition in order to meet human need
  • Third, he goes a step further in his pronouncement that “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath”
    – he can do with it whatever he wants with the Sabbath (it belongs to him, he does not belong to it)
    – he has the authority to define or redefine Sabbath

6:6-11, A new relationship to religious definition of lawful

In this episode, it is Jesus who raises the question about what is lawful

The scribes and Pharisees looked at the situation through legalistic eyes
– that made it impossible for them to catch a glimpse of what Jesus saw
– the man would have left the synagogue with a useless hand if were up to religion

Jesus: [challenging them on their own turf] “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or destroy it?”


Jesus: “Stretch out your hand!”
– previously, Jesus had stretched out his hand to heal leper (5:13)
– in some instances, Jesus reaches for us, but for other types of healing, we must reach out on our own
– the only way this man could have been healed was by stretching out his hand

It is obvious by now that to go along with Jesus is a stretch
– he stretches our imagination
– he stretches our faith
– he stretches us to our limits
Why? Because he knows what we’re capable of becoming
– but if we are not stretched, we will live in the confines of our current limits

The stretching results in change – in moving into something new

God’s Spirit is working on a project
– your circumstances do not get in his way
– they are exactly the material and equipment he uses
What he’s doing is significant – it will change lives
– and Jesus asks you to stretch yourself toward his project

CONC: What central principle lies behind each story?

Trick question
– there may be lots of good answers, but I do not see a principle at work so much as a person
– Jesus is not replacing one set of laws with another
– he isn’t exchanging an old principle with a new one

The new center is Jesus himself
– the Physician (5:31)
– the Bridegroom (5:34)
– the Son of Man (6:5)
– the Lord of the Sabbath (6:5)
In a variety of situations, Jesus is present in exactly the way we need him to be
– in finding our way through life, it will not be a static principle that guides us, but the living Lord Jesus

You are beginning to understand Jesus when you realize he is changing you
– to know Jesus is to be changed by him
– if I know him, it is not because he now fits into my mental or theological categories, but because he has dissolved and replaced my categories
– he has created the new wine skin

Sometimes when I look at the life to which Jesus calls me, I feel a twinge of frustration
– do I have to make all of this work? Does it depend on me?
– we can easily be overwhelmed by it all

But then the Lord asks us, “Was it up to you to make the sun rise this morning? Did you dust Saddleback Mountain with snow last night?”


Leave a comment