Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he has given us 150 Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs to praise him. Songs that minister to our minds, our hearts, and our souls in every circumstance of life. "He put a new song in my mouth, a song to praise our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." Psalm 40:3
Confess the sin to God of having too low a view of his being and power. Ask God to give you a desire to know him as he is.
Let's read Luke 5:33-38
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
V33. A Question about fasting.
Jesus is presented with a statement that indirectly asks a question. Matthew (Matthew 9:14ff) and Mark (Mark 2:18ff) both cite it as a question. Who are the questioners? Although not said explicitly, we can deduce from what Luke says that they are the disciples of John the Baptist. Matthew says so clearly, Matthew 9:14. He alludes to the fact that the Pharisees may also be present because he refers to their disciples. (A side note, John the Baptist is in prison by this point, Matthew 3:19, so these men are remaining faithful to him even in his absence.) The question itself concerns the issue of fasting from food and drink.
The offering of prayers is also mentioned, probably set prayers at fixed times as was the practice of Jewish disciples, but it doesn't form part of the question. Note the manner of their asking is not in a hostile way. They are raising the matter because they are perplexed. By Law, the Jews was required to fast one day in the year, specifically the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:27. It seems that John's disciples were fasting quite regularly, although we are not told the reason why. It may have been that they were simply following the practise of the Pharisees, who, of their own accord, fasted twice in the week. The issue for John's disciples is that Jesus' disciples aren't fasting at all. There is never a day when they are not eating and drinking, hence the question. Jesus' disciples do not have an answer for them. They are still learning how Jesus wants them to live (something we are all doing), and so they bring the question to Jesus.
V34. Jesus’ approach in responding.
Jesus doesn't answer the question with a direct statement along the lines of, 'well, this is the reason why I have not asked you to fast regularly…'. He sets his response into a real-life situation and uses that to instruct them. This tells us that Jesus knew what he believed and wanted so well that he could communicate it easily. That takes thought. Most people can read a book and, if required, regurgitate what it says. But the goal of a teacher must be to communicate, what may be fairly complex things, in a way that anyone can understand. That requires two things. First, a real understanding of what they are seeking to teach, and then an ability to present it in a digestible form. When you hear something and you think that is easy to understand, then the teacher has done their job. Jesus was a teacher who always excelled when it came to doing his job.
The second thing to note is that Jesus answers the question with a question. This is something he frequently did. Why? Because asking a question requires engagement. A statement is just that; it's a statement. Take it or leave it as you will. Yes, it requires those who hear the statement to have to think about it, but it provides an opportunity for the conversation to be terminated there and then. Asking a question requires the other person to engage differently. It makes it personal. A statement, even about a private matter, can be impersonal. A question directs itself to the thinking of the other person and draws them into the decision-making process. Once we engage in the decision-making process, then it is more difficult to avoid the consequences. Of course, if a person sees where you are going with your question, they can try and deflect it with another question, but that tells you something about the motive of their original question. As I've said, as we will see as we make our way through Luke, Jesus used this approach frequently, and it is a good one to adopt on occasions when talking, especially with unbelievers because getting them to think about these things is essential.
V34. Jesus’ question.
So, what is the question that Jesus asks? Where is he leading them to? What does he want them to see? Well, the gist of it is that wedding guests don't fast – they celebrate, they feast. And since they are with him, the Bridegroom, why should they be fasting? He is drawing their attention to himself, something which neither they nor John's disciples have grasped. They are viewing him as their rabbi, their teacher. Yes, one who has unique teaching gifts, and authority, not to speak of his miracle-working and power; but they haven't pieced it all together yet. Jesus is helping them to do so, step by step, and here he is teaching them that he is the Bridegroom. What a beautiful picture we have in the Scriptures of the Bridegroom and the Bride. Central to which is the laying down of the Bridegroom's life for his Bride, as Jesus now alludes to. The relative imminence of his death is not divulged in his sharing, but, none the less, this is the first statement regarding it. The fact is that there will come a day when he will not be with them. On that day, they will not need anyone to prescribe a fast for them.
Of course, we know that he is raised again, and returns to Heaven to prepare a place of glory where he and his Bride will dwell together in joy for all eternity. What a wonderful thing it is to know that we are numbered with his Bride. That one day, we will enter into that glory to be with the Bridegroom for eternity. Unbelievable, but it is going to happen! Remind yourself of that heart-palpitating truth every day of your life; it will do you well.
V36. The parable.
Since we are going to encounter more parables, I will, God willing, take the opportunity to define what a parable is the next time we come to one.
Again, Jesus turns to that which is simple and known. A garment and a wineskin. In respect of the garment, the point is self-explanatory. You don't destroy something new to patch something old, especially if, in the proves of doing so, what you end up with either looks stupid or doesn't work. John's disciples were perplexed when they saw Jesus and his disciples apparently disregarding what was commonly held Jewish practice. Jesus is saying that this practice, along with the many other such practices, is like an old garment; what he is bringing is still a garment, but it is a new one, and to even think about stitching one onto the other just won't work. It can't because they don't match. The new garment must be put on in its entirety.
As to the new wine in the old wineskin, this takes the previous point and develops it. The result of the new cloth patch is an attempt to prolong the life of the old and will only succeed in creating something that doesn't match. The pouring in of new wine into old wineskins in order to preserve the life of the new, won't just create something that won't work, it will create havoc if it is attempted. The new wine, which is still in the fermentation process, will cause pressure, resulting in the wine to burst out of the old wineskin, which has long since lost its former ability to stretch when in fresh condition. The result – the wine will be lost. Jesus has come to save the lost by his work; he is not going to do anything that will see his work lost.
V39. People are wedded to that which they know and are comfortable with.
As a pastoral point to his disciples, he tells them, 'listen, this is the way it is going to be, people are just not going to get it because the pull to keep things as they were will always be stronger than the desire to go with what is new, regardless of the fact that the new is clearly right.' And isn't that the way of human nature. We are all inclined to opt for what we know and have been doing for a while, maybe years. Why the need for change, it served us well in the past, why can it not do the same now? There is certainly merit in asking that question, especially given the changes that have swamped the life of the Bride in North America in the past forty years. A lot of change is not good, but that does not mean that all change is bad. Throughout the centuries, there have been seasons of reformation in the church. Times when the church has realised that she needs to walk in a manner more consistently with her stated profession. Such times, granted by the grace of God, are to be welcomed and embraced.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 32A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Keep memorizing it will do your heart good.
Psalm 121C v1-3
1. Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes; whence comes my aid?
The Lord's my help, the heavens and earth by him were made.
Your foot from stumbling he will always keep;
the One who guards your life will never sleep.
2. He who keeps Israel slumbers not nor sleeps By night or day.
The Lord keeps you, a shade on your right hand The Lord will stay.
Throughout the day the sun will never smite,
Nor will the moon afflict you in the night
3. You will be safe, protected by the Lord, By his control.
For every evil that may come your way He'll keep your soul.
While you go daily out and in your door
Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 31 - What is effectual calling?
Answer - Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, by which he convinces us of our sin and misery, enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renews our wills, and so persuades and enables us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc
Thank God that Jesus was such a wonderful teacher and pray that, as we sit at his feet today, we will learn with joy in our hearts.
Thank God for the prospect of Heaven!
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley