How much do you like change? Even if you know the change is for the better? In our life as missionaries, we have had to learn to be OK with change. Someone said once that as missionaries we live in the perpetual state of change. We are either in the midst of transition, have just gone through transition, or we will go through a transition in the near future. I do not always look forward to change. But, if I knew what was on the other side is better, than I may take it a little better.
The Passage: Luke 5:12-39
The tension between Jesus and the religious leaders is really beginning to heat up. The religious leaders were looking for a Messiah who would be the perfect model of a Pharisee, someone who would live out the law perfectly, and someone who would overthrow the Roman rule.
The religious leaders were really struggling with what they were seeing. Jesus had healed a Jew in the late stages of leprosy (Luke 5:12-16). This was something that the religious leaders had taught and they believed only the Messiah would be able to do. So they were watching Jesus to see if He really was the Messiah.
Religious leaders from all of Israel had heard of what Jesus did and had come to investigate (Luke 5:17). They had come to Capernaum to see Jesus for themselves and to validate the claims they were hearing. They were all together in Peter’s house. The crowd of religious leaders and others was so big you couldn’t even get in the door. But, the friends of a paralytic were determined to find healing for their friend. So, they boldly went up to the roof and removed the tiles of the roof, making a hole big enough to lower their friend down into the crowd. (Luke 5:18-19)
In the presence of the religious leaders, knowing their struggle with what they were seeing and what they were thinking, instead of healing the man, He declares, “Man, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20) If there was any doubt of who Jesus claimed to be, He was making it absolutely clear! The Pharisees themselves even asked, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:21)
There was no question now that Jesus was claiming to be their long awaited Messiah. He had healed a Jew with leprosy. He had forgiven a man’s sin, then healed him. He claimed to be the “Son of Man,” the Rabbinical term for the Messiah. (Luke 5:24) But, as they continued to follow Jesus around, and witness His life, things were just not lining up for them.
As Jesus left Peter’s house, and walked the streets of Capernaum with religious leaders in toe, he walked by a tax collectors booth. The tax collectors name was Matthew (Luke 5:27). Jesus invited this sinner, this tax collector, to be one of His followers. So the guy did. He left his tax booth and followed Jesus. And to celebrate, Matthew invited Jesus and all his friends to his house to eat. (Luke 5:29)
This really confused the religious leaders. The Messiah was supposed to be the perfect Pharisee. He was supposed to follow the law perfectly. But, he was eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. (Luke 5:30)
As the religious leaders continue to follow Jesus and observe him, they compare how Jesus lived with John and his disciples, and they notice that Jesus didn’t even follow the traditional custom of fasting twice a week. “How can this guy be the Messiah if he associates with tax collectors and sinners, and doesn’t even follow the simplest of Pharisaic tradition by fasting twice a week?” (Luke 5:33)
Jesus answers their questions by giving them 4 reasons from which we can also learn.
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?)
What Jesus was offering and displaying was something totally new. It would be a new covenant, a new law, a new priesthood! What Jesus was offering would not merely patch up or straighten out the old, it was a brand new piece of clothe all together. It was new wine with a new wineskin. And this new thing was something to celebrate. It was something worthy of letting go of the old. And when we really understand this “new” thing Jesus is offering, we will never want to go back to the old.
The Plan: As I ask these questions of myself, I encourage you to ask them too.
What can I learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
- Don’t try and patch up the old! The flesh can never be repaired! No matter what the method, performance, legalism, following the traditions of a “good Christian.” Nothing will make the flesh any better. The flesh (the old garment) will only make a mess of the new one.
- Stop trying to fill the new wineskin with the old wine. In the Old Testament, it was all about following the rules. The “old wine” was a system of works. Depending upon myself instead of living in dependence on the life of Jesus in me, will bring discouragement and failure. “To be occupied with endless questions of what should and should not be done, brings distress and enslaves the soul. But to be occupied with Christ and His mercy and grace brings freedom and conformity to His image.” (JF Strombeck)
- God never expected me to be able to live the CHIRSTian life without CHRIST. (Christ in the Christian) But what joy and rest there is in depending on His life in me. When we experience that freedom and conformity to His image, we would never want to go back to the old.
- I need to acknowledge areas of sin in my life that I know are wrong, but still enjoy, like old wine. When we understand what Jesus is offering, we should not want the old. The Pharisees, having tasted the old, were satisfied with it, they had no desire for what Jesus was offering them.
- Christ’s life in me… again when we really understand that
What do I need become more aware of?
- What areas of sin do I need to give up? Is Jesus better? Am I like the religious leaders who having tasted the old, were satisfied, and had no desire for what Jesus was offering? That’s what I am doing when I choose to harbor sin in my life.
- How am I filling the new wineskin with the old? Do I live in dependence upon God or myself?
How does God want me to engage with this? What does He want me to do because of what He is saying here?
- Give up the sin and replace it with celebrating Jesus life, the bridegroom present, with the new wine of His life in me.
- Continue to grow / learn about this new wine, Jesus’ life in me. What has He given me IN CHRIST? (new clothes, new wine, new wineskin. Learn to rest in Him and enjoy His new life in me
The Power; Implement and Integrate
The power to change is in the implementation and integration. We can talk all we want, make lots of plans, but until we do something about it, and develop habits that integrate those truths, we will never change. What is the one thing I need to do as a result of this study today?
- Give up the sin and replace it with celebrating Jesus life – every time I am tempted, turn my thoughts toward Jesus life and celebrate him, as i say no to sin