The Challenge of The New
Text: Luke 5:29-39
Introduction: It’s the New Year 2018, with the promise of the new also comes the challenge. New Years are filled with both, challenge and promise and often because we do not rise to the challenge we do not fulfill the promise.
We see this problem even more so with our new life in Christ. Here is a newness that is as fresh as my last prayer and more powerful than my greatest sin. It is filled with promise and yet it is in many Christians a very rare thing. Do you know why? It is because a new life in Christ does not erase the old life we had in this world. It gives us a new birth, it gives us a new name, it gives us a new heart but it does not give us new flesh, nor does it blank our minds to the old life we had before Christ came. This problem is seen in many places in scripture such as Galatians and Ephesians Chapter 4, but nowhere is it dealt with in such a unique way as when Jesus dealt with it in Luke 5:29-39.
New Friends Luke 5:29-35
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. 30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? 31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 33 And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
Jesus Meets Matthew’s Motley Friends
Background: This parable was given because the Pharisees were criticizing Jesus and his disciples. Look at verse Levi was the other name of Matthew and when he accepted Christ as his savior he threw a party the Greek word means reception and invited all his publican (tax collector) and sinner friends. In the middle of this “sinner’s supper” sat Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees, who were the moral watchdogs of Jewish society and the self-appointed judges of who was going to be the Messiah, showed up and stood outside of Matthew’s home to check out Jesus and his behavior. They began to murmur this word originally meant the sound made when doves gather together and begin to coo. They whispered and talked and the sound made a noise even in this great reception. Finally, Jesus dealt with them, perhaps to deal with the noise they were making or perhaps when he left the feast, perhaps to try and reach them as he was trying to reach the lost of Matthew’s friends.
The Pharisees started asking some critical questions not because they wanted an answer but because they wanted to influence and direct Jesus and his disciples. They asked, “Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “They that are well don’t need not a physician; but they that are sick do. I come to call sinners not the righteous to repent.”
Then they asked, “Why do John’s disciples fast often, and pray, just like the disciples of the Pharisees; but yours eat and drink and don’t fast? He then answered, “Can you make the guest at a wedding fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.”
Then Jesus explained to the Pharisees why they were having such a hard time with Him and His way of teaching and living.
The parable he gives in verse 36 is a sharp reminder of something that is sometimes very difficult for us. We are not only living a new life, we must understand that this new life can’t get along with the old life. The two are not compatible in any way.
Augustine and the Prostitute
Soon after Augustine's conversion, he was walking down the street in Milan, Italy. There he was accosted by a prostitute whom he had known in the past most intimately. She called but he would not answer. He kept right on walking. "Augustine," she called again. "It is I!" Without slowing down, he called over his shoulder, "Yes, but it is no longer I."
Transition: Jesus goes on in vs 36 to more deeply explain the radical change that is made by a knowing Him.
New Ways Luke 5:36-38
36 And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. 37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.
Parable of Old Garment and New Wine
Jesus takes common everyday things from life and takes them from something they understand to something that they need to understand. He takes them from the physical to the spiritual.
This is how a parable works. It takes an earthly story and teaches a heavenly truth. So let us take some time and examine this story.
Jesus says you can’t take a piece of new cloth and sew it on an old garment because you would ruin both.
Now this takes place in the times before pre-washed jeans and synthetic cloth that doesn’t shrink. But in Jesus’ day when cloth was made by hand from wool or linen. If you had an old piece of clothing and it torn you wouldn’t patch it with new cloth because the new cloth would draw up and shrink when it was washed while the old would not. This could tear the cloth and make the original tear even worse.
Jesus is telling them, “You can’t take what I am giving and use it to try and repair what you have. The new will only tear up the old leaving you with a mess.”
Then Jesus says, “No man puts new wine into old bottles, because the new wine would burst the bottles and everything both wine and bottles would be lost.”
The bottles Jesus is talking about were goatskins. The goat skin was cleaned and tanned, then the leg tied off and a spout put in the neck forming a bottle. These were used for transporting wine.
If you had to carry new wine, less than 40 days old, you had to use a new wine skin. The new wine if put in an old goatskin would come in contact with the yeast of the old fermented wine left in the goatskin and begin to ferment. The old skin would have no elasticity, no stretch left in it and as the wine fermented it would burst the skin. New wine was carried in new wineskins, new bottles so it would not ferment, burst the skin and destroy the shipment.
Jesus was trying to tell the Pharisees you can’t what I am, and what I am teaching and put it in with you old ways and make them work. All you will have left is a ruined life. The new life of Christ will not work with the old life of sin.
Do we understand this story?
If you placed yourself in this story would you be in the feast with a bunch of sinners and government thieves or would you be on the street outside the home whispering about a preacher being in there with all those sinners?
Jesus didn’t fit in the old perceptions and old ways of the Pharisees.
We understand that but our problem is that we too often think he fits into ours. What Jesus truly does in us is shocking, overpowering and unbelievable it is anything but understandable. Yet that is what we often try and make it.
We try to take who Jesus is and what Jesus does and make it fit into our old life and our old way of thinking. It can’t be done. Just like the old garment and the old wineskins it will tear us up.
Many people are living just such lives. They are ruined because they want the power of the new life in the vessel of their old and it can’t be done. They want the power of Christ to patch up their old life instead of beginning completely new through Jesus Christ. Such and attempt can only result in empty lives and broken hearts.
Many churches are also trying to fit new patches to old garments or new wine in old wine skins. It won’t work. Things around us are changing it is a new time and a new era and we allow Jesus to change us or the church will be ruined.
The Experience of Useless Garments – Oswald Chambers
The Holy Spirit does not patch up our natural virtues, for the simple reason that no natural virtue can come anywhere near Jesus Christ’s demands. God does not build up our natural virtues and transfigure them, He totally recreates us on the inside. “And every virtue we possess is His alone.” As we bring every bit of our nature into harmony with the new life which God puts in, what will be exhibited in us will be the virtues that were characteristic of the Lord Jesus, not our natural virtues. The supernatural is made natural. The life that God plants in us develops its own virtues, not the virtues of Adam but of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ can never be described in terms of the natural virtues.
New Kidney in a runaway church member.
I heard a true story of a pastor who urged his church to help a fellow member who needed a kidney. The church members were tested and the pastor was the best match. He gave his kidney to a dying church member. What a gift! You know how grateful that church member was? A few months later he left the membership in anger and quit attending, but he did come back just in time to join the vote to kick the pastor out of the pulpit. How could he do such a thing? If you knew the history of that man and that church you would know he was a legalist, a modern day Pharisee. He has been taking God’s gifts, putting them into his old life and then turning on the giver for years. This was nothing new. What was a kidney in comparison to salvation?
If you think that is a rare kind of story think again. Many Christians have tried to relate to God through their old way of living only to have their life turn to bitterness. Once that happens it is very easy to spread that bitterness to others in the form of legalism and tradition all the time believing that what they are doing is right simply because it is the old or comfortable.
Why do we do such things? Jesus has the answer in vs. 39
New Desire Luke 5:39
39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
Jesus says man likes the old better.
No man having drunk the new wine right away wants it because he says the old is better.
The new is shocking, its taste is sharp and makes you take notice. The old is mellow and comfortable. It is pleasant because it is what we are familiar with, what we’ve come to expect.
The Pharisees didn’t want to lose what they were comfortable with.
They were the leaders of religion, not Jesus.
They didn’t have sinners at their supper tables, just pious, self-righteous saints.
There were no surprises or shocks in their way of doing things. It was what they expected and what they wanted.
Are you ready for New Wine?
Now, none of us want to be Pharisees, the villains of the New Testament.
They conspired and crucified Christ. Yet I can still act like a Pharisees if I hold on to my old ways and reject the new way of Jesus. If I refuse to release the old ways of legalism, of pride, of tradition and replace it with the new man of Christ. I may be more a Pharisee instead of a child of God and disciple of Christ.
Ephesian 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
That sounds great, I want to do that. So, why wouldn’t I put on the new man?
Because of old shirts, and old pews.
You know I have some shirts in my closet that are years old. They are faded, stained and may have a few holes in them but if it wasn’t for my wife I’d probably wear them in the pulpit. (My tie will cover that salsa stain.) Why would I do that, because they are comfortable, familiar, easy to put on.
We are the same way at church. There is nothing better than coming to church and seeing old friends. Friends you grown up with, friends you’ve shared sorrow and laughter with. There is nothing better than coming to where your friends are and sitting in your own favorite pew and enjoying Sunday. Neither is there anything worse than coming to church and seeing a stranger sitting in your pew. “Your pew! Don’t they know anything. Why don’t they wait until you come in and sit down.”
Does this seem exaggerated? Let me tell you a true story about my first Sunday at Bayshore Baptist Church. We came that Sunday early, since as a candidate for Pastor I wanted to make a good impression. After we had set down an older gentleman, walked up to us and without even introducing himself told us we were sitting in his pew. I laughed and apologized thinking he was kidding. He told me it was his pew because he had marked the end of it with his pocket knife and sure enough there was a notch in the pew nearest the aisle. He decided to let us stay there this week but next week, if we came back, not to sit in his pew. That man was so comfortable with the old he was willing to offend a visiting preacher or guest of the church.
What we can joke and laugh about when it comes to old shirts and pews is heartbreaking when it comes to our relationship with Christ and the need for change in those lives and in our church.
Christ is always pushing us to new things, always challenging us to new heights, always forcing us to reevaluate everything we thought was okay. That’s Jesus and that’s not easy or comfortable, but if I am to really discover the power of a new life in Christ, I better getting used to “New Wine.”
Continuous Conversion – Oswald Chambers
These words of Our Lord are true of our initial conversion, but we have to be continuously converted all the days of our lives, continually to turn to God as children. If we trust to our wits instead of to God, we produce consequences for which God will hold us responsible. Immediately our bodies are brought into new conditions by the providence of God, we have to see our natural life obeys the dictates of the Spirit of God. Because we have done it once is no proof that we shall do it again. The relation of the natural to the spiritual is one of continuous conversion, and it is the one thing we object to. In every setting in which we are put, the Spirit of God remains unchanged and His salvation unaltered, but we have to “put on the new man.” God holds us responsible every time we refuse to convert ourselves, our reason for refusing is willful obstinacy. Our natural life must not rule, God must rule in us.
Forget about the repairs.
London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash around the interior. As he showed a prospective buyer the property, Clegg took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. "Forget about the repairs," the buyer said. "When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building; I want the site." - Ian L. Wilson, Barrie, Ontario. Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 3.
God doesn’t want the old person we were he wants ownership of the person he is going to make us into. Are you willing to let that adventure begin?
Conclusion: Saddest thing about my Christian life is that I’m no longer shocked by Christ.
I’m not shocked because I’ve made him fit my old way of thinking and doing.
He fits in nicely with my traditions and my routines. I’ve made him into a comfortable shirt and He sits beside me in my favorite pew and He never, never surprises me. He certainly doesn’t shock me.
I don’t know how to tell you this but that’s not Jesus. That’s a cardboard cut out of Jesus and there is no life, no challenge and ultimately no satisfaction or joy in that kind of relationship. Yet many are willing to accept it because it’s what we are used to what we are comfortable with. And in that way, if no other we are just like the Pharisees.
The Death of Oswald Chambers
Despite a successful Bible School and respect as a much sought-after Baptist Preacher and evangelist he gave it up to serve as a chaplain in Egypt to the British soldiers of WWI.
There at only 43 years old, he died from a ruptured appendix after suffering for three days, leaving behind his wife and young daughter.
He probably could have been saved if he had gone to the hospital, but he refused to take a bed when wounded soldiers needed them.
Such a death is shocking in anyone but to someone so used by the Lord as Oswald Chambers it seems incomprehensible. Why would the Lord allow such a tragedy in someone so dedicated to serving him?
Oswald died leaving behind his wife Gertrude who he called Biddy and a very young daughter Kathleen, they traveled back to England and scraped by the rest of her life by running a boarding house. And every night when everyone else was asleep she would pull out an old typewriter and reading notes she had taken in shorthand from her husband’s lectures and sermons she would type. Those notes were transformed into several books the most famous of which is the devotional book “My Utmost For His Highest” which was first printed in 1935, is now in 39 languages with over 13 million copies and has been out of print since it was first published. It is considered the most popular and influential devotional book ever written.
Now that is pretty surprising, pretty shocking and it happened because Oswald Chambers didn’t make Jesus fit into his old life, but let Jesus have and do with his new life as Jesus would use him.
What has Jesus surprised you with lately? What has shocked you in His challenge to your comfortable life?
If it has been awhile perhaps it time you took a look at where you are and where He is in relationship to the life you live. As we start a new year, let us all be willing to taste the new wine and put on the new man as disciples of Jesus Christ.