January 10, 2013

Slum Pies for Pharisees

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.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 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. 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. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
(Luke 5:33-39 ESV)

Just a quick note of something I noticed in my devotions the other morning. Many are familiar with this passage, and our typical "lesson" drawn from it, that being that Christianity is something new and different from Judiasm which would bust the "old wineskins." It's bigger and it's better. It is, if you will, Judiasm in completion. It is the reality that was suggested by the shadow. And if you try to pour it into the old mould, said mould will certainly break. Good lessons. Important ones, especally the more we think about them, and how that relation of continuity/discontinuity works out. That being said, this isn't what I noticed the other morning.

Look at that last sentance in Luke 5.

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

It looks like almost a filler phrase or a throw away phrase. But Jesus doesn't make throw away statements. Who is drinking the old wine of Jewish tradition? The Pharisees. The people Jesus is talking to right here. He point blank tells them that, as Lewis would put it, their desires are too weak. The old is good enough for them, they have no desire for the new.

And there is a warning for us here. Oft times Christians think about the Gospel and present the Gospel according to this formula:

I want something + Jesus is the way to get what I want = accept Jesus and get what I want

Here's the problem that Jesus points out. We want the wrong things. Our felt needs don't cut it, because we don't want Him. We don't want the new, because we are satisfied with the old. And so when we use Jesus to purchase something that isn't what we actually need (being made right with and knowing God!), then we are trying to use Him to purchase our idols. Except Jesus won't be used as currency in our constant pursuit of idolatry. So we need to ask ourselves the question: why do I love Jesus? Because He makes me feel good? Because He solves my guilt? Because He saves me from Hell? Because He gets me into Heaven? Let me prod you with another question: are any of these desires (guilt free conscience, promise of heaven, etc) Christian? Or simply human?

Human desires are not neccesarily wrong. Having a clear conscience and a promise of heaven as opposed to hell are, of course, good things. But they aren't the point of the Gospel. The heart of the Gospel is that Jesus comes and pays my debt. That in trusting Him I can be made new by God, my debt is paid, and God looks at me as though I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ. And it's goal is that because of the debt being paid, and God's wrath being satisfied, I am allowed to know Him. To see Him. To enjoy Him. To be satisfied in Him. To love Him. To glorify Him.

Are we satisfied with the gifts? Or do we long to know the Giver? That is the question I walk away from Jesus statement with. Anyone can taste the old and say "good." Anyone can appreciate a good gift. But it takes a God-sized craving to long for the Giver Himself. We are weak-willed creatures. Pray that your will may be stregnthened and your hunger to know Him grow deeper every day.

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About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).