Sunday, November 15, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest"

“Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
November 15, 2009
Luke 5:33-6:11

Last week, we left Jesus in the middle of a party.
Do you remember who threw the party for Jesus?

It was Levi, the tax collector, who had become a follower of Jesus and wanted his slimy tax-collecting buddies to know Jesus, too.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law weren’t impressed with the crowd at this party–they were “sinners.”  Ewww.

But Jesus said that He came as a doctor...for the sin-sick, not the self-righteous.

We left off with that in chapter 5, verse 32.

Now, in verse 33, it appears that we’re still at that same party and the Pharisees are asking a new question.

They are still not impressed with Jesus.  And here’s how it comes out.  V.33

“They said to him, ‘John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.’”

Do you see where this is going?

They bring up John. Which John is that? John the Baptist.

John’s baptism was a baptism of what?  Repentance.

John’s job was to help people to understand their sin and their need for the coming Savior.

He did a lot of fasting.  And so did his followers.  It was perfectly right for him to do so.

And the Pharisees fasted, too.  Now, their fasting wasn’t necessarily good.  I’m sure that a lot of their fasting was trying to earn God’s favor by being rigid and self-disciplined.  That’s not repentance, that’s works-righteousness.

But both fasted.

And fasting is a...what?  Good or bad thing?  Well, it depends.

It be a very good thing. There are several fasts prescribed by the Old Testament Law.  And when done with a right heart, fasting from food (or even other things) can express a heart that longs for God.

John Piper’s book on fasting has this great title, “A Hunger for God.”

Fasting, when done with the right motives, can be a great way to enhance our prayers.

Did Jesus ever fast?

Of course He did.  He did in the last chapter! Chapter 4.  In the desert.  And He was very hungry, remember?

But, public fasting has not characterized Jesus’ ministry so far.  And his disciples aren’t known for their fasting.  In fact, they seem to like parties.

Remember where they just were, if not still are?!  Levi’s party.

Everywhere Jesus goes, people are having a good time.

And the Pharisees are not impressed.  There is an implied criticism here, a rebuke...“yours go on eating and drinking.”

How do you think Jesus should respond to this? 

Should He tell them, “Lighten up?”

“You guys are just sour-pusses!”

Jesus misses no opportunity to engage people in thinking about Who He Really Is.

And this is another opportunity.

He uses another name for Himself to make them think.

He calls Himself the “Bridegroom.”  V.34

“Jesus answered, ‘Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.’”

He turns their criticism on its head.

He says, “Have you ever been to a wedding?” 

How do people act at weddings when the groom is around?  In the Middle Eastern culture, the arrival of the bridegroom was one the climaxes of the event.  And wherever the groom is, there is joy and feasting!

Does everybody fast during a wedding or do they feast?!


Because the presence of the happy bridegroom brings real joy.


And Who is the Bridegroom here?

Jesus is.

Jesus brings real joy.

Pharisees, do you want to know why we don’t fast much?

Because I’m here.

That’s an audacious claim, isn’t it?

What if anyone other than Jesus said that?  “I’m the party!  It’s all about me. Where I go people become happy!  Get into the Me-Spirit!  Joy in Me!”

If anyone other than Jesus said that, we’d gag.

But it’s real when Jesus says it. Because Jesus brings real joy.

Do you know the joy of Jesus?

I have Heather Joy and Robin Joy. And they are great joys.

But nothing is as good as Jesus Joy.

So, should you and I fast today?

I mean, we Jesus Joy, if we are His followers?

Is fasting appropriate for you and me now that Jesus has come?

Well, no and yes, right?

Jesus has come.  And we have His real joy.

But Jesus has gone away for awhile, and so it’s appropriate right now to fast.  V.35 again.
“But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

Now, that could mean the days between Jesus’ crucifixion and His resurrection, but that was only 3 days.

And right now Jesus is not present like He will be one day soon.

Right now, while we wait for the fullness of Jesus’ joy to be given us, it is still appropriate for us to occasionally fast.  And I commend the practice of fasting to you as a way to enhance your prayers while we wait for Jesus’ return.

But the point here in Luke 5 is that where Jesus is, there is real joy.

Jesus Brings Real Joy.

This joy is something new.  Look at verse 36.

“He told them this parable: ‘No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.  And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.  And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'’”

Now, that sounds good, but it’s really confusing.

I wrote down in my notes this week as I was studying this, “This sounds good, but I don’t know what it means.”

There is a contrast going on here between the old and the new.  Right? That’s obviou, right?

What is the new in this parable?  Jesus is the new.

New joy.  Wine is often a symbol of joy in the Bible.

Jesus brings newness. 

What do you think is the old?

Well, it seems to be the old forms of the Old Covenant.  And also those who cling to those old forms and the traditions of man that have grown up around those old forms.

So, not so much God’s Old Testament Word Promise as the Old Testament system and the Pharisee’s accretions that have grown up around those forms.

We’ll see an example of that in just a minute.

Now which is better in this, the old or the new?

Well, Jesus is the new, so He’s got to be better, right?  Right.

V.36 again.

“He told them this parable: ‘No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.”

Jesus is a using a funny story here.  Imagine having an old pair of jeans that have a big old hole in the knee.  Do you go to your closet, get out a new pair of jeans, cut out the knee and sew it on to the old ones?

No, duh!

The new is better.  Out with the old.

The same story with the wineskins.

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”

The new is better.  Out with the old.

Now, this is not saying that new is always better.

But when Jesus is the new, He’s always better!

Because Jesus brings real joy.

Now, here’s where I got lost this week.  V.39

“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'’”

Is the old better?

No.  Jesus is saying that some people don’t get a taste for the new wine, the new joy of Jesus.

Some people, the Pharisees (?), the teachers of the law (?), unbelievers (?), prefer the old covenant, the additions to the old covenant, the old way of doing things, the old instead of the new.

And that’s scary.

Some people would rather fast even if Jesus is around than find their joy in Jesus.


Because they would have to recognize that He is the Real Bridegroom.

And the real joy is found in Him alone.

We have to choose.

We have to choose to find our joy in Jesus.

So, which will it be?  Going through life acting like it’s a funeral?

Or going through life acting like it’s a wedding–or at least the lead-up to a wedding?

Yes, the Bridegroom is not here right now.

But He has left His Spirit with us and by that Spirit promised to be with us always even to the End of the Age.

So, every day, we can find our joy in Jesus.

Tom Wertz died this week.  He went home to be with the Bridegroom.  He is experiencing Jesus’ joy in full right now.

“Welcome home, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your master.”

As I was thinking about Tom and preparing for his memorial service, I remember how much joy Tom had in Jesus.

It was a quiet joy.  It wasn’t loud and flashy and ostentatious.

But it was real joy.  Joy in Jesus.

Are choosing to find your joy in Jesus?

We all are prone to run to other things to give us joy.

We are all prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.

To say, “The old wine is better.”

No!  Nothing is better than Jesus.  Jesus brings real joy.

And real rest.

In chapter 6, Jesus lives out an example of this new wine principle.

The old wine, the old garment, included an old way of thinking about the Sabbath Rest.  V.1

“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, ‘Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’” Now, stop there for a second.

What’s going on here?

Are Jesus and his disciples stealing?  No.

It was legal in that time if you are passing through a grainfield, to catch a bite to eat. They didn’t have McDonald’s drive-throughs, and this was a legal way of eating while traveling.

So, why are the Pharisees in a dither?

It’s because they are doing work on the Sabbath!

What work?

They are harvesting grain.

Is that ridiculous, or what?

The Sabbath was a big deal.  Whose idea was the Sabbath?

It’s God’s idea, right?

A day of rest for the people of God!

God says, “You must rest.  Trust me.  I’ll take care of you.  Don’t work.  Take a break.”  It’s really an amazing command.

But over the years, the people had tried to protect that commandment by defining what was and what wasn’t work.

And then shaming people if they broke the definitions.

All of a sudden, keeping the Sabbath was a lot of work!

Not working was a lot of work!

How whacked is that?!

Now, Jesus could have just said that, right?

In other places He does say that.  He says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

But, catch this, that’s not exactly where He goes here.  Here He goes (again, surprise surprise!) right to His identity.  V.3

“Jesus answered them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?   He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.’  Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’”


Now, let’s try to understand Jesus’ argument.

He reminds them of a story from 1 Samuel 21.  The Uth Boys have been studying King David and His Mighty Men on Wednesday nights. We just recently read this story in our class.

David is on the run from Saul, and he ends up at the tabernacle, and he and his bunch are hungry.

There is bread there.  Very special bread.  Bread that, legally, on the priests should eat.

But King David eats it and shares it with his companions and it’s not sin.

Why?  Because he’s the king?  Yes, and also because of their need.

The needs of compassion outway the letter of the law here.

There is a greater law that supersedes–the law of love.

Now, are Jesus and his disciples eating the sacred bread?

No.  It’s just heads of grain.  So it’s an argument from greater to lesser.

At least in terms of bread.

But, catch this, it’s an argument from lesser to greater in terms of Persons!

David was Lord of Israel.

But Jesus is saying that He is the Lord of the Sabbath!

That is an even more audacious claim than being the Bridegroom!

He is saying that Sabbath is His to command.

He will say what is right to do on that day and what is wrong!

He will define what is true rest!

Jesus brings real rest.

“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

And then He goes on to prove it.  V.6

“On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled [probably paralyzed. The King James says, “withered.”]  The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.”

There is irony, isn’t there?

They want to catch Jesus doing something wrong–like healing somebody!  Ooh, how bad can you get?

That’s not what the Day of Rest is for!

We want our Old Wine!  Old Wine!  Old Wine! 

Fingers in their ears.  V.8

“But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there.  Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’”

Do you care about people at all?

What is this day of rest for if not for compassion and goodness?

“He looked around at them all [can you imagine the look on his face, anger and compassion mingled perfectly together?], and then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored.”

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath Rest.

Jesus brings real rest.

That’s the new wine.

It’s the best of the old wine–its true intent.

And it’s something new altogether.

It’s real rest.  Because it comes with Jesus.

The point of this passage is who Jesus really is.

And the answer is. Jesus is Lord.

He calls the shots.  He is the King.

What He says, goes.

And think about what that means for real rest.

It means that real rest means true sanity.

No more upside down interpretations of the law.
No more the law being used against people.

No more of the law being a club to bludgeon people with.

But instead the law is restored to its original intent–to bless people!

Because He is Lord of that law.

Real rest means compassion.

It means that if we really enjoy the Rest of God, we will reach out to those in need and do good, save lives, do justice, have compassion on people.

That’s what the Lord of Rest does with His rest.

Are you finding your rest in the Lord of Rest?

The Pharisees had turned rest into striving.

Jesus restores rest to its original intent.

Jesus brings real rest.

Are you finding your rest in Him?

This isn’t the place to get into the debate about the Sabbath and whether or not it continues.  Some say yes in the Lord’s Day.  Other say, No.

I don’t think it does continue as a commanded day in the New Covenant.

You know why?

Because I believe that now the Sabbath is Person, not just a Day!

The Lord of Rest Is Rest Himself.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [with the old wine, with the dour face, with the sad fasting, with the old garment], and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus brings real rest.

But it was not free and easy.

Look at verse 11.

“But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

Jesus just healed someone, and they want to kill Him!

And they will succeed.

The plot begins now. Jesus has begun to make enemies.

And the old wine will win (for a time).

The old garment will rip up the new garment.

The guests of the bridegroom will fast while he is taken away from them.

That rest will come at a great price. The price of the Cross.

Why did they want to kill Him?

Because of Who He is.

Because He is the Bridegroom.
Because He is the Lord of the Sabbath.

And they would rather have the old wine.  “The old is better.”

What do you choose?

Do you choose to find your joy in Jesus?
Do you choose to find your rest in Jesus?

We are prone to look everywhere else for true rest.

Television, the internet, magazines, exercise, sports, leisure–everywhere but Jesus.

This last week, I finished that paper I was telling you about.

My information addiction.  I called it, “Need to Know.”

I’m prone to look to blogs, check my email a million times a day, check my account balances–any piece of information to throw a bone to my restless heart.

But I’m learning to find my rest in Jesus.

Jesus is the Lord of Rest.

And all true rest is in Him.

Jesus Brings Real Joy and Real Rest.

Messages So Far in Certain of Jesus:
Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners