Take a Break
December 29, 1996
Scripture: Luke 5:33-39
I got a phone call just before 8:00 P.M. last night at the church and the voice on the other end asked, “Is Hope there?” Thinking someone had called the wrong number, I answered, “No, there is no Hope here. This is Mayfair Bible Church.” Now I’m sure it was just someone dialing the wrong number, but I caught myself and thought, “What did I just do? Of course we have hope here. And we have it in abundance. The whole theme of the O.T. and the N.T. is hope.”
This hope lies not in what happens to us which effects our ‘happen-ness’ but is a deeper seated emotion we call joy. Our joy rests not in what happens to us but in what has been done for us which no circumstance can take away.
Do you know how I know we have hope here?
1. Because we have Jesus Christ. Simeon said of Him in the temple after He was born that He was destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel. Change was about to happen. Christ is the One who would usher in the new covenant, give us a new command, and bring the message of new life in the new way of the Spirit. In fact, God is continually in the business of making everything new. In Revelation we are told that we will have a new name, in the new Jerusalem, singing a new song, under a new heaven, on a new earth, and God, seated on the throne says, “I am making everything new.”
2. Because Jesus spoke the words we will study in our passage today in Luke 5:33-6:11.
3. Because I noticed a billboard at the corner of Cicero and Peterson advertising Bosch Tools that said, “One man’s handiwork is another man’s dust.” (Explain)
4. Because this modern day application exemplifies the truth of this passage that Jesus Christ came to create a new world order not bound by the old, and that in Him we are set free to come into the new and not be bound by the old. He is in the business of reconstruction, even recreation. And this we have on His authority.
There are a series of three controversies in today’s passage that follow on the heels of the complaint of the Pharisees to the disciples that Jesus would eat with such sinners as Levi (Matthew, one of the disciples), a tax collector and his street-wise friends. To this, Jesus responds that He has come not to doctor the self-righteous who considered themselves spiritually healthy, but that He has come to heal the broken-hearted from the penalty of sin. (Do a take-off on Rom. 3:23; 6:23 “sick/health”)
This reminds the Pharisees of the ministry of John the Baptist who came to call sinners to repentance, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” And they wonder now why Jesus and His disciples do not fast and pray as John and his disciples. They are saying, “Here is the way John does it. Why the difference?” So here begins Jesus’ response which gives us hope as well as joy. He tells them He is the difference. He calls himself the bridegroom and gives the first picture of His impending death. He then proceeds to tell them all just how different His new way is.
Three things are happening in this series of three controversies.
1. The opposition is trying to corner Christ. He has become a threat to the established order.
2. Christ is separating out the opposition (sheep and goats). They are becoming a hindrance to the new order. In fact, they are cornering themselves.
3. Christ is calling upon us to take a break from the past and develop a new way of thinking as part of His new ‘Kingdom Culture’.
I. Take a break from our past understanding of Piety: thinking only of the established order.
To the Jews, fasting with prayer was an expected form of religious virtue and worship. Failure to do so was looked upon as a lack of respect for God. But Jesus’ answer to them begins to reveal that He is God. He has come. And while He is here He has the right to change things. There will be plenty of time for fasting later. So He tells them a three part parable to make His point.
A. The new way is like a new cloth that will not match.
Like making a hole to fix a hole that will stay a hole.
B. The new way is like new wine that cannot be contained.
C. The new way is a way that will not be easily accepted. The Jews already had their minds made up - the old was better they thought.
D. Application: It is true that we must be reverent in our repentance over sin as John the Baptist, and even Jesus in His initial ministry, called us to be, but we must also celebrate our forgiveness. We see this pictured in Jesus’ impending death for sin. Our spiritual health is important to God. In this coming new year are we willing to let the failures of the past go and embrace hope in the new way of the future through forgiveness in Christ? We cannot go back and change what has been done, but we can be changed through Christ in spite of what has gone past. There are some things in this past year we must make a clean break with so we can rejoice in what Christ has in store for us. But, undoubtedly there are some who will think the old wine is better. But recall the words of the master of the banquet at Jesus first miracle:
Jn. 2:8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so,
9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside
10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
II. Take a break from our past understanding of Propriety: thinking only of rules.
Jesus and His disciples not only ‘ate and drank’ (Lk. 5:30), they ate and drank in violation of Jewish rules on the Sabbath. The Mishnah (an ancient Jewish rule book), contained instructions about Sabbath practice. Shabbath 7:2 gives a list of 39 prohibited activities known as the “forty less one.” This draws a parallel with these arbitrary rules and the receiving of lashes. The Jews were aware of how particular these customs were, since they said that “the rules about the Sabbath---are as mountains hanging by a hair, for Scripture is scanty and the rules many.” The disciples were guilty of reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food. They were being watched closely to see what they could be caught doing.
It is true that we must honor what is holy, but it is also true that God’s purpose for man, made in God’s image, is holy. Your daily needs are important to God and God will meet those needs.
The purpose of the Sabbath, “made for man, not man made for the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:27) is to give strength and healing to man through worship of God, his Creator. God does not need our worship, although He desires it. But He desires it because He knows it is for our good. It is man who benefits from worship. Sabbath law was to free humankind up to rest and enjoy God, not to shackle them from serving others or prevent basic needs from being met. We must be careful not to make laws of things that Scripture does not command. But Jesus challenged their contentment with religiosity.
The new way of Christ sets us free from a consuming concern to always make sure that others are doing just what they are supposed to be doing, or not getting what we are not getting, and enables each of us to come into a pure and holy relationship of individual response, following the intent of the law which pleases God more than following the letter of it. This is the new way. Old things have passed away and new things have come (2Cor. 5:17). The concern here is less on the externals of relating to God and more on the nurturing of the conditions of the heart and treatment of others; more on character and less on ritual.
And besides, once again, Jesus says He is God. He is Lord of the Sabbath. He can do what He wants with the rules, even change them and our understanding of them. After all, He wrote the Book. In this particular account, it is not His actions that are being questioned so much as His authority. Will we allow His authority into our lives in a new way that follows the intent of His instruction to us which sets us free to enjoy His provision for us? Or do we prefer to stay in whatever religious rut we may be in?
III. Take a break from our past understanding of Pity: thinking only of self.
Here we have another Sabbath set up situation in which the Jews are trying to catch Jesus doing something they can complain about. They are watching Him closely. We see in Mt. 12:10 that the Jews initiated the question to Jesus whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath to which He replies:
Mt. 12:11 He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?
12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
Mark 3:4-5 tells us more about the response of the Jews to the question Jesus asks of them whether it is lawful on the Sabbath to do good or evil - to save life or to kill? They refused to answer Him and the passage says that He became angry and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts. Then He proceeds to carry out the action of His interpretation and calls forth the man with the shriveled hand and heals him.
In the Jewish view, a person who is not in mortal danger can wait to be healed, and a shriveled hand is not life-threatening. But Jesus is looking at the Sabbath from a relational angle. To Him, a failure to act would be doing evil. The action becomes a test and the Jews themselves proceed to plot evil. It is not yet time for Him to go to the cross in payment for our sins but the path is now being set. The Jews are already trying to nail Him.
It is true that we must wait upon God, but must He wait upon me? It is not up to me to decide when God should act, but I should be ready to act in accordance with God. Our spiritual response is important to God. Jesus shows that God does not intend us to ignore acting with love and mercy whenever the opportunity to do so exists. One even notes an urgency in Jesus that help should be offered as soon as possible. His action to heal in effect charges the Pharisees with legalism - that is, an overapplication of the law to such an extent that people are crushed or ignored. All the Jews could see was the violation.
Jesus showed them that He had the authority to do something different. Jesus has the authority to change things; to forgive sin, to set us free from the past, to heal. The question to us is whether we will allow Jesus the authority to do something different in our lives in the New Year. Drawing near to God saves life. Withdrawing from God destroys it. We must stretch out our hand to God in Christ and be healed and we must help and enable others to do the same.
Christ has forged a new and better way to God.
Heb. 12:24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks.
Will we be threatened by Him and the new freedom He brings, or will we benefit from it?
Is. 43:18 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Are we willing to take a break from the past and gain some new understanding this year of the new way of Christ?
Rom.7:6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
There is a new piety of rejoicing in our Lord and His forgiveness that sets us free. There is the new propriety of worship because we need it as much as our daily food. There is the new pity of helping others reach toward the healing that is in Christ.
Will we attempt to maintain the status-quo categories of position, power, and possession or even tradition this new year or will we seek to set ourselves, our families and our church free to follow the new way of Christ? “One man’s handiwork is another man’s dust.” God knows that we are but dust. If He created us from dust, cannot He re-create us from dust? As I heard recently, “Just cause you can’t see air doesn’t keep you from breathing. And just cause you can’t see God doesn’t keep you from believing. And that, my friends, is what we call faith.”