Religious traditions vs. Spirit Led Obedience

Luke 5:33-39 (KJV)

  

33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ 


  

V33: This is the third time in this chapter that we come across the continuing questions and accusations of the Pharisees and Scribes against the Lord Jesus Christ. The first round of questioning was on Jesus ability to forgive sins (v21), the second questions were centered on why Jesus ate with “Sinners” (v30) while here in v33, the question was on why Jesus disciples did not seem to fast and pray. The Pharisees fasted twice each week – on Mondays and Thursdays. They also prayed at least 3 times a day and it irked them that the disciples of Jesus did not seem to value these rituals that were commonplace among the religious leaders of the time.


  

V34: Jesus masterfully replies to the accusation from another cultural context – that just like it was unheard of people fasting during the Jewish wedding feasts (that typically lasted 7 days or more), so too it was impossible for Jesus disciples to fast while He was still with them. 


  

This serves as a reminder of the kind of people we are to be – bubbling with joy and fun to be around so that just like Jesus was invited to all the functions of the common folk, we are also invited. Anyone who experiences the presence of Jesus in their life would celebrate life just like Jesus did. What about you? Are you invited regularly to functions in your area easily? Do your colleagues include you in their parties, or is there something about you that is so formal that they always forget to invite you? Jesus was included in all kinds of functions. The common people embraced Him easily and loved to be around Him constantly. Why? Because He brought a higher degree of joy to wherever He went. 


  

Although Jesus came to people as they were, He left them different than He found them. If you find the party or the people “infecting” you rather than you affecting them, watch out. But if, like Jesus, you can go into a place and make a difference by the joy that you have and the unmistakable witness of God’s work in your life, then go with God’s blessing. 


  

V35: Jesus concedes that the day will come when the Bridegroom is no longer available, pointing to his ascension. At that point, his disciples would start fasting. There was no reason to do it when Jesus was with them, as they could easily converse face to face with him. 

This serves as a reminder for us today that while we remain on this Earth as sojourners, we need to reserve time for fasting and praying. This is to seek his face and to quiet our souls to be able to hear His voice. 


  

V36: Jesus now addresses the main issue – the reason He came to the Earth He created was not to patch up the old religious systems that existed but to create something entirely new.

In Mt 22 we read of the parable of the wedding feast – thrown open to all. However, a man who tried sneaking in without proper wedding garments was confronted by the King: ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless” (Matthew 22:11-12)

Many times we are guilty of limiting God’s work in our life, of trying to let Him deal with a small part of our lives and trying to get by – it does not work and what is worse - it becomes obvious to people around you that you are a misfit – you know enough of the Lord, that you no longer fit in with the world but you do not know enough to surrender completely to the Lord and thus be transformed!


  

This is why we read in Is 65:17: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.”


Are you experiencing a dry patch in your life? Maybe you are seeking the Lord to fix the hole in a part of your garment (your life), but Jesus came to give you a completely new set of garments altogether and to have you seated in your best attire for the wedding feast of the Lamb! You will be blessed if you stop trying to fix the visible holes in your life and instead turn over your life completely to the Lord this day.


  

V37-38

37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.


  

Jesus also uses another example to illustrate His message of what God is doing being incompatible with the old scheme the Pharisees and Scribes were accustomed to. It was common sense in Jesus day that you poured new wine into new wineskins so that the wine could be safely stored until it was time for consumption.


Now, Jesus ministry was unprecedented and completely new, and it was not something that was compatible with the old order of things. If the “new wine” of this ministry was poured into the “old skin” of the old religious order, it would lead to wastage of both the new wine and the skin it was being poured into.


  

Sometimes we like to boast of our traditions inherited from various believers and Church groups we have been affiliated with. However, we need to ensure that the focus of our lives, ministry and every work we do remains Jesus and obedience to His word rather than any tradition we see around us. Else, we would find ourselves being empty of power, pleasers of men rather than God.


In those days, wine was fermented differently from how it is done today – the grape juice was stored in new wineskins made of goat skin. The skin of the grapes naturally contains a tiny bit of yeast. When left in a sealed container over time, this yeast is sufficient to ferment the grape juice during which the gases that are produced cause the container holding the wine to expand. If it is a new container (new goatskin) the skin expands sufficiently and is able to hold the wine being formed inside. However, no one pours new wine into old wineskins, as these wineskins would not be able to expand anymore and would rupture thus wasting both the wine and the wineskin.


  

Even though ancient wine making did not rely on added yeast, the residual yeast from the last batch of wine made would still be present in the wineskin and was sufficient to wreak havoc on the new wine. This is why Jesus emphasized to the Pharisees and Scribes for a need to receive His word without doubting. 


New wine must be poured into new wineskins. Wine in the scripture points to the Holy Spirit. If you are not experiencing the filling on the Spirit or the move of the Spirit in your life, it could be because of the presence of the old yeast in your life. If you decide to come clean of it today, the Lord is faithful to fill you with his Spirit. In 1 Cor 5:17 we are told to “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”. Let us set aside every experience of not being able to walk with the Lord in the fulness of His New Wine (Spirit) filled experience by dealing with the old yeast/ leaven that remains in us. 


  

In v38, the word used in the original Greek for new in relation the wine is “neos” which means new or young while the work used for new in relation to the wineskin is not neos but “kainos” which means renewed or made fresh.


  

I have good news for you – although one could never normally pour new wine into old wineskins, the poorer Jews who could not afford new wineskins each time a batch of new wine was made discovered an interesting secret – if you thoroughly washed the old wineskin and then let it soak in the water for a few days, it could again be used to hold the new wine, without bursting up! The old yeast was removed and the wineskin made supple again so that it can hold new wine without bursting!


  

What a powerful revelation – now we know the Bible says in Ps 119:9 - How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.


  

And in Eph 5: 25-26 we read: Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word


  

If you haven’t experienced an indwelling of the Spirit in your life, I invite you to immerse yourself, to soak yourself in the Word of God. As you so, you will find the old yeast dissipating, a loss of appetite for the things of the world, and a hunger for the Word!


  

V39

And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.


The above verse is peculiar to Luke’s Gospel and teaches us an important truth – Another reason why people are often unable to be transformed and become joy-bringers like Jesus intended, is because some time people tend to slip back to taste the old wine from time to time! Those who do this will remain unable to taste of the Lord’s goodness and experience His joy in this life.


Do you see yourself as completely joy-filled in the Lord, or are you like the Pharisees of old finding yourself in a place of questioning God and being unable to trust Him completely? Stop slipping away, stop jumping between two opinions. Spend time in the Word and in Prayer - make Jesus your focal so that you will enter into a revelational relationship with your heavenly Father and inherit peace and joy for evermore.


May the Lord help us renew ourselves completely in our mind; to put on the new garments, to put off the old yeast! In doing so we shall become joybringers that transform a perishing world. May the Lord help us do just that! In Jesus name… Amen!