Memphis Belle

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Luke 1:1-38
Luke 1:39-80 Luke 2:1-38 Luke 2:39 - 3:17 Luke 3:19-4:23 Luke 4:14-5:11
Luke 5:12-26 Luke 5:27 6:11 Luke 6:12-49 Luke 7:1-23 Luke 7:24-50 Luke 8:1-18
Luke 8:19-40
Luke 8:40-56 Luke 9:1-27 Luke 9:26-50 Luke 9:51 to 10:24 Luke 10:25-42
Luke 11:1-13 Luke 11:14-44 Luke 12:1-21 Luke 12:22-48 Luke 12:49 - 13:17 Luke 13:18-35
Luke 14:7-35 Luke 15:1-10 Luke 15:11-32 Luke 15:24-32 Luke 16:13-31 Luke 17:1-26
Luke 17:26-37 Luke 18:9-27 Luke 18:31-43 Luke 19:1-27 Luke 19:28-48 Luke 20:1-26
Luke 20: 27-47 Luke 21: 5-36 Luke 22: 1-20 Luke 22:21-34 Luke 22: 35-53 Luke 22: 54-71
Luke 23: 13-43 Luke 23: 43-56 Luke 24: 1-35 Luke 24: 36-53    
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Luke 5:27-39

 

“And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican [tax collector], named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom:  and he said unto him, Follow me.  And he left all, rose up, and followed him.  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.  But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?  And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  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?  And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bride-chamber 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.  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.  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles [wineskins]; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.  But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.  No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new:  for he saith, The old is better.”

 

“‘As we continue, Lord, we thank you that we can gather publicly Lord, that we can study your Word, that we can sing your praises.  Lord we thank you that we can forgo some of the formalities, Lord, to push aside some of the, Lord, some of the traditions, some of those things that have become part of Church that are non-essential Lord.  Many of those things are beautiful but non-essential to us, Lord.  We appreciate the freedom to sing simple choruses Lord, and lift our hearts before you in song.  And Father, then to sit and open your Word, Lord, that we might behold wondrous things of your Word, that we might see Jesus.  And Father, every one of us in this room, saved or unsaved, we’re acutely aware Lord, of the needs that are deep within our hearts, that no other man or woman knows of, Lord only you.  Lord, even myself, there are so many things that need to change within me Lord, all of us, we lift our hearts to you.  We pray as we have this privilege to gather Lord, that this would never be a time that is just a ‘church service’, it would never be phony Lord, it will always be real and blessed with your presence, and Lord, that your Holy Spirit would be working in our midst.  Lord, we look at you in the Book of Revelation, walking in the midst of the Lampstands, the Churches, Lord.  Continue to be in our midst, Lord, as we look in your Word, we pray in Jesus name, amen.’

 

The Calling of Matthew Levi

 

Luke chapter 5, we finished last week, we looked at the leper, and at the paralytic who was let down on the pallet by his friends into the middle of the Bible study where Jesus was teaching.  He was then healed, and encouraged to go on his way, that his sins were forgiven.  Jesus then departing from that scene, verse 27 of chapter 5 says, “And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican [tax collector], named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom:  and he said unto him, Follow me.  And he left all, rose up, and followed him” (verses 27-28).  Now, if you were a publican, there was a stigma placed on you, just like if somebody says you are a convicted rapist, or a murderer.  A publican was despised.  And particularly this man being a Jew that had taken this position of being a publican, a tax collector.  The position was bid on, and it went to the highest bidder.  And then the responsibility of that tax collector would be, he would have to, in the area that he collected taxes in, give a certain quota to the Roman government on a regular basis, and anything above that, that he could squeeze out of the people, was his.  And they were notorious for charging the people more than they needed to pay in taxes.  There were several main receipts of custom, one was at Caesarea by the Sea, one was at Capernaum, where there was a trade route from Damascus, and the whole area of Decapolis would come through there and head down towards Jerusalem.  And there was a receipt of customs, Zacchaeus, that was at Jericho.  That was also another main place where there was a receipt of custom.  The publican would have a Roman standing behind him with a spear and with a sword, a symbol of the fact that Rome enforced the collecting of taxes, and that all the authority of Rome was behind the tax collector.  This tax collector’s name is Levi, we know him as Matthew, the Lord would change his name.  Matthew means “gift of God.”  Interesting, his name’s Levi, probably grew up as a Levite [and the Levites were actually another tribe of Israel, they weren’t Jews, technically, at all], somewhere in the family of the priests or the Levites.  No doubt as he grew, he saw the hypocrisy of the religious system that was in Jerusalem.  Now look, many of you that are here this evening, as you grew up around things that were supposed to be spiritual or religious, you also saw the hypocrisy of spiritual things.  Matthew saw the people being raked over the coals for money in the Temple precincts.  Jesus would call them thieves and robbers.  He probably thought, ‘Well if they can do it, why shouldn’t I get everything that I can get for myself?’  No doubt he was trained in God’s Word, because in his Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew, there are 99 Old Testament quotations, more than all the other Gospels combined.  He was a man who knew the Word of God, raised in a Levitical family, because he would be the chronicler of the King.  God would chose him to paint Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah before the eyes of the world.  Here it says that Jesus saw a publican.  This is Luke’s rendition.  It’s very interesting when Matthew gives us the same record, he says “Jesus saw a man.”  Very important to Matthew.  Everyone else saw a publican.  I don’t know what label society has placed on you.  Liar, cheat, I.R.S. man, tax collector.  I don’t know what people, you know, so often people put us in a box that identifies us.  But it says that Jesus saw a man.  It meant so much to Matthew, he looked past all of that and saw a man.  Not only that, all he says to Matthew is “Follow me.”  And it says ‘Matthew immediately left all, rose up, and followed him.’  I mean, he knew that Matthew was sitting there listening to all of the testimony around him of people being healed, of the lepers being cleansed, of the lame being healed, of the Good News being preached.  In his mind he was putting together the Old Testament prophecies he had studied as a young boy growing up around the Levites, he was putting together the picture in his mind.  Not only that, the people that Levi had his fill of, were the people who were now, there was animosity toward Jesus.  He was probably thinking, ‘You can tell a man by his enemies, I like this Jesus guy.  Because the same people that aggravated me and turned me away from God are the same people that are always angry at him for something he’s doing, and I like this.  He’s healing people on the Sabbath, his spitting and making mud on the Sabbath, he’s just freaking these guys out, I like this guy.’  But more than that is his heart was convicted.  And Jesus, all he had to do is look at him.  He was probably walking by and knew that Matthew was watching him, and Matthew is probably just watching him go by, and Jesus all of a sudden looked over and made eye-contact and said “follow me.”  Because he knows that’s what he was thinking anyway, ‘Wish I could follow him.’  And it says “And he left all, rose up, and followed him.”  In parenthesis it should say ‘and lost nothing.’  He left all, and followed him. 

 

Levi Makes Jesus A Great Feast Filled With Tax Collectors and Sinners

 

“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” (verse 29).  Pot-luck evangelism is powerful.  “But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?”  You know, the first thing he wants to do is tell his friends.  Now it’s interesting, because even though he was raised in a religious system, he had turned what the Jews considered traitor, Jesus looked by all of that and called him to be one of his disciples.  He has already an amazing taste of the grace of God, knows that he can draw his friends, tax gatherers and sinners together, and that Jesus will not reject them, that Jesus will come and eat with them.  You know, these were the people that the religious leaders couldn’t touch.  Let me tell you something, I was one of them.  When I was in the world, and I was taking drugs, and my life was in the toilet, I was one of those outcasts that the religious world couldn’t touch.  They didn’t want to have anything to do with me.  They didn’t like the way my hair looked, they didn’t like the way I looked.  I remember one night getting beat up by a hundred people, was not fun, and running and hiding in the bushes outside of the house of the pastor of the church I went to when I was younger (hadn’t been there in awhile).  And he looked out the door and said “Get out of my bushes!  Get out of here!”  and I said “I’m gonna get killed, and you’re worried about your bushes, you’re supposed to be a pastor…” I’ve got my eyes bleeding and I’m arguing with him.  He didn’t know what to do with me.  Jesus knew what to do with me.  And though those people who were around my life that were religious had nothing for me, couldn’t touch me, and you see the scribes and Pharisees, they would pull in their robes, they wouldn’t even touch a sinner as they walked by, they wouldn’t even want to get their dust on them.  And they said, ‘Why is your Master, and why are you eating with tax gatherers and sinners?’  Because in that culture, if you broke a loaf of bread and you took part of it and they took part of it, you were deriving sustenance from the same piece of bread, you were becoming one with whom you broke bread with.  You were, in that culture, you’re identifying with them.  And with all their religiosity they have no ability to reach a lost generation. 

 

Who Jesus Came to Call, His Real Mission-Field

 

So they say to the disciples in their grumbling and complaining, murmuring against the Lord’s disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with publicans and with sinners?’  “And Jesus answering said unto them,”---he steps in---“They that are whole need not a physician:  but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (verse 31). And too bad if your Bible doesn’t say “repentance”, it should.  So Jesus says this, ‘They that are whole need not a physician: but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  And notice a few things there.  First of all, Jesus is not against doctors.  “They that are whole need not a physician:  but those that are sick.”  Simple fact.  Because we hear of people in the church today, they refuse to get their kid immunized, and we see it on the News, because that’s where the news media is gonna be, where anybody who claims to be a Christian doing anything kooky or out of the ordinary, that’s the guy whose gonna be on TV, supposedly representing all of us.  No, I think we should use technology and wisdom, and I think that it is God’s grace that there have been vaccines and immunizations.  Some of the doctors in our church that are older remember when there was a kid on every block who had polio [we had two of them in the school I attended].  So it’s a blessing.  Those that are sick need a physician.  There is a good side to that.  I try to stay away from them as long as I can, but there’s a place.  Now it’s interesting here, Jesus identifies himself as a physician.  He sees the sinner as a patient, not as a castaway.  The religious leaders look at the sinners, and they don’t even want to touch them, they don’t want to have anything to do with them.  No, Jesus says ‘No, they’re not castaways, they’re patients.  I’m the doctor, they’re my patients.  And the great thing about Jesus being your doctor is this, his diagnosis is always accurate, always.  His cure is always perfect, and the bill has already been paid.  [applause]  There is no doctor like that.  And I hope that if you don’t know Christ, as you listen this evening, you’ll realize that.  His diagnosis is always accurate.  He knew what my problem was.  He knew how empty that I was.  And he knew that I was going to all the wrong places to try to fill that empty spot in my heart.  He knew how to diagnose me immediately, and brought me under that conviction.  His cure was perfect.  When I came to him he washed me and cleansed me, set me free, gave me a reason to live, secured heaven for me as my destination, by his forgiveness, [Now don’t get the wrong idea, these folks know Jesus is coming back to reign on earth, and that heaven, the New Jerusalem, will end up on earth after the 1000 year reign of Christ over physical human beings is finished, cf. Revelation 21:1-23.] paid the price himself.  What a doctor.  Such a doctor [spoken with a Jewish accent]. 

 

‘Why Aren’t Your Disciples Following the Special Ritual Fasts and Prayers?’

 

“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?” (verse 33)  I think, ‘What’s your problem?  Change denominations.  If I had a choice I’d be in the eat and drink denomination.  What’s you problem?  Now they’re asking from a religious point of view, of course.  You know, ‘We do all of these things, we fast often, we make…’, they made regular prayers that were memorized prayers.  You see, that was one of the problems, they had a special prayer they prayed at a death, a special prayer they prayed at a birth, they had a prayer they prayed for each day of the year, they had dedication prayers.  You know, if you’ve been around religious systems like that where they have, you know, canned prayers.  [Comment:  I have a book in my library titled A COMPANION for the Festivals and Fasts of the Church of England.  with COLLECTS  and PRAYERS For each SOLEMNITY,…written by Robert Nelson, Esq, the pious Author of this excellent Book, was born the 22nd of June, 1656…”   A whole book of canned prayers.  They had another one titled “The Book of Common Prayer” as well.]  The disciples somewhere along the way, would watch Jesus, and you know what they would say to him?  “Lord, teach us to pray.”  Because they would watch him pouring out his heart to the Father, and they knew ‘This is not canned, this is a conversation.’  They didn’t say ‘Teach us how to pray.’  They said ‘Teach us to be pray-ers.’  And it’s the only thing they ask him through all of the Gospels to teach them.  They don’t say ‘Teach us how to heal the sick’, they don’t say ‘Teach us how to walk on water, that was really cool’, ‘teach us how to make loaves and fishes out of just a few, boy, such a business we could have.’  The only thing they ask him as you go through the Gospels, is they say, ‘Teach us to be praying men, teach us to be pray-ers.’  Well, these religious people said ‘We fast often’, and they fasted regular, ‘and we make regular prayers, but your disciples are eating and drinking,’  they joined Calorie Chapel is what happened here.  “And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? (verse 34)  ‘This is what, you know, the prophets have been waiting for, this is what the centuries have been leading toward, this is a time of rejoicing, the Messiah is walking in the midst of Israel, this is not a time of fasting, when the bridegroom is with you is not a time of fasting, it’s a time of feasting, it’s a time to rejoice, it’s a time to live.’  “But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days” (verse 35).  “Taken away”, that is in the sense of violently, from them.  Now certainly they did, while he was taken away, while he was dead in the grave for three days.  Certainly the Church [Body of Christ], through the centuries, has been filled with believers who have practiced fasting, and fasting is an interesting thing.  And you can fast for a meal, you can fast for a day, you can fast for 40 days [I wouldn’t recommend that one], I would consult your doctor if you plan one of those long ones.  But it’s a great time just to settle your soul, it’s a great discipline, and how it settles us on spiritual things, and kind of takes our hearts and our minds off the constant dieting and constant eating.  And let me tell you something, it’s easier to fast while you’re fasting than it is to fast while you’re eating, if you know what I mean.  He says there’s a time when they will fast. 

 

Are You In A New Wineskin or An Old Brittle Wineskin?

 

“And he spake also this 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.  No man putteth new wine into old bottles [wineskins]; else the new wine will burst the [old] bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.  But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.  No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new:  for he saith, The old is better” (verses 36-39).  His answer is this, ‘No man puts a new patch on an old garment.  You guys who went through the 60s and early 70s with me, knew that we worked hard to have our jeans wear out.  We did it the old-fashioned way, you buy them worn-out looking now.  We did it ourselves.  And then when they wore out, you waited for the holes to come, that was part of our generation.  My daughter does it now, and I don’t understand it at all, but I understood why I did it, I forget.  But you saved the ones that fell apart so that you could use the old denim to make a patch on your worn-out jeans, because if you took a, besides looking weird, but it didn’t look cool either, but if took a brand new piece of denim and sewed it on your old jeans, and then it got washed and dried, it looked like a bear-trap, it just pulled it all together, you know.  Nobody did that.  It says they don’t agree.  And Jesus is saying, ‘You know, I didn’t come to patch up the old system.’  How can we take a patch of something that is brand new and sew it on something that is old?  How can we take a new era of God’s grace, a new demonstration of who he is, grace and truth, the Law came by Moses, Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.  How can we take this and put it on an old system?  Jesus is saying, ‘I didn’t come to renovate the old system.  I didn’t come to patch up the legal Judaistic system, I came to usher in an entirely new system, and entirely new era, an entirely new covenant, the New Covenant in contrast to the Old Covenant.  Then he says, ‘No one takes new wine and puts it in old skins,’ it says bottles, it’s wineskins, because the new wine, the fresh wine then ferments, and the old wineskins had become rigid and dry, and as it [the new wine] fermented the old skins would burst.  And then you have wine, of course, running out all over the place.  And Jesus says both the bottles and the wine perish. 

 

Jesus Cares For The Old Wine and Wineskins Just As Much As He Cares For The New

 

Now it is interesting, take note of this.  We often have people who come to us and say, “Look, I see what the Lord’s doing here, pray for my pastor, pray for my church, we’re so caught up in just a system and everything, and everything seems so dead.  Just pray that something new would happen there, that there would be new life.”  And we’ll do that, but you know, it’s hard to put new wine into old skins.  And Jesus voices a concern, he doesn’t want the old bottles to perish.  You know, if you just take a, you know, people come in here and they watch what’s going on, and they think, ‘Well let me see, the secret is you have to wear Hawaiian shirts, then things start to happen.  Or the secret is, you’ve got to get guitars and drums up there, and if we take a new patch and put it in our old church, then…”  It’s nice, but it doesn’t produce what they’re looking for.  And then what happens is some of the folks that have been there for years say ‘What happened to the organ player?  We don’t like this, who is this?  This is not worship, what is this, Rock n’ Roll?’  And you’re losing the bottle and the new wine.  And God cares about the old bottles.  There are some wonderful places around here.  You know, let me tell you something, if Jesus tarries for 50 years, we’ll be an old bottle.  We’ll be here.  ‘Yeah, we worship in the meter factory, the way it has to happen is you have to have this, and you have to wear Hawaiian shirts, you have to use chicken-buckets when you take the offering, you have to do this.’  And we’ll be set in our ways, and our kids will be going ‘Oh man,’  and they’ll move somewhere down the street and God will do a whole new thing.  If you study the history of the Church, it’s the way it always was.  [Comment:  Whether you look at the Sunday-observing side of the body of Christ with it’s various genuine revivals-turned- denominations or the Sabbath-keeping side of the body of Christ, with it’s seven successive eras, this is very true.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/IntroChurchHistory.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm.]  There was always a new wave, you know, Billy Graham’s organization got behind a book called ‘An Unbroken Line of Splendor’ and it just traced the trail of revival through the Church. 

 

How To Revitalize an Old Wineskin

 

Now, one of the things that can change old bottles is a sovereign move of God.  When George Whitfield preached up and down the Eastern Seaboard, churches that were nominal in regards to being Christian or experiencing the new-birth were revitalized.  Churches that were believing but dead and worn out came back to life again.  When there’s a revival, you know, right away we think that means people getting saved.  No, that’s just a by-product.  A revival is when something that used to be vived, gets vived again.  That’s why it’s called revived.  It’s when something that used to be alive [and now is more or less dead] is made alive again.  But that is sovereign.  The general rule is you can’t put new wine in the old skins, unless God does it, when there is a sovereign move in the Church [or in a church and/or denomination].  We’re not talking about resurrecting Judaism, we’re talking about in the Church [Body of Christ, or within individual denominations], and there’s an awakening.  And how we pray for that in this nation, before the Lord comes, that God would move in a sovereign way in the churches all across the city.  That we ourselves would experience a revival, an awakening.  And there would be then a great ingathering, because the very Body of Christ would come to life and become infectious.  Well, we pray for that wonderful thing. 

 

Why God Creates New Wineskins---He Loves the Lost

 

But God so often moves outside of the old established systems to begin something new.  The reason he does it, is because he loves the lost generation that he does it in, for God so loved the world, not the Church, the world, that he gave his only son so that whoever would believe would not perish but have everlasting life, that he would take us in and make us the Church.  You know, if you’re sitting here tonight, and you’re not a believer, you know, chances are, we couldn’t get you into a normal church.  That’s why you’re here.  Chances are we probably couldn’t get you somewhere with hymnals, and a pastor or a priest or a reverend, whatever they are, that was wearing a robe, you’d probably say ‘Nah, I don’t want that.’  So God loves you enough to get you into an old meter factory, so that you could hear his Word, hear about his love.  [The Calvary Chapel in southern Massachusetts, with 2,000+ members meets in a renovated old Super K-Mart building they bought.  The one that meets in Central MA meets in a renovated old mill building.  This denomination is fairly new, having begun with Chuck Smith in Costa Mesa, California around 1970.  They are not filled with a lot of rituals the established older denominations have become filled with, they’re fresh, new wineskins is what Pastor Joe is saying.  And as you can read here, they have a very good and unique way of preaching, via the “connective expository” sermon method.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm to see how they started and learn more about this recent revival of Jesus Christ.  The Messianic Jewish revival is fairly new, exploding in growth from about the same period of time, the early 1970s.]  They’re coming to Jesus, ‘Why is this happening?  Why are you eating with tax gatherers and sinners?  Why are you reaching beyond the religious borders that we placed up?’  And Jesus is saying, ‘Because those that are sick need a physician, not those that are healthy.  Those that are outside our border, they are able to be healed.  That’s who I am, that’s why I came.’  Those that were part of the old religious systems that didn’t reach my generation, that were ineffective, God reached beyond them, and reached our generation.  And I remember in my generation when LSD became prominent in America, and the Beatles and some of the bands were leading the wave, and a whole generation was going to hell.  And all of a sudden, right in the middle of it, God steps in, and you start to hear about Jesus Freaks, and all of a sudden the same people who were listening to the other things, all of a sudden now, instead of dropping out and turning on, they’re getting saved and being born-again, and they’re coming into the churches with long hair and bare feet.  And the old wineskins are going ‘Hey, you can’t come in here, you’ve got bare feet, you’ll get the carpet smelly!’  And Chuck [Smith] said early on, when the Hippies first started coming into his church, he said they’d put their toes in the communion cup holders in the back of the pews, and all the old folks were getting offended. [laughter]  And they said ‘They can’t come in here with their bare feet, we just got new carpets.’  He [Chuck Smith] said ‘Rip the carpets out, and let them in!’ ---1969.  Now, 700 Calvary Chapel’s in the United States, hundreds in other countries around the world.  And there are many other moves like that, by the way.  We’re not exclusive.  But God is still working.  Jesus says he creates new wineskins because the old containers are not able to be flexible enough to contain the new wine, the living work that I’m doing. 

 

Luke 6:1-11

 

“And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.  And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?  And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat of the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?  And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.  And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught; and there was a man whose right hand was withered.  And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.  But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.  And he rose and stood forth.  Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil?  to save life, or to destroy it?  And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand.  And he did so:  and his hand was restored whole as the other.  And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.”

 

Jesus Corrects Their Warped Legalistic Way of Sabbath Observation

 

The Plucking the Grain on the Sabbath Incident

 

“And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first,”---that’s the next Sabbath---“that he went through the grain fields, the corn fields; and his disciples were plucking the ears of grain, and did eat them, rubbing them in their hands.  And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?”  Now here we go, because Jesus is grating against their Sabbath customs that were not part of God’s Word.  God’s Word said in Deuteronomy 23:25, that if you went through someone’s field, you were allowed to take grapes and eat as you went through.  Or you were allowed to take some of the grain and chew on it as you went through the field.  You were not allowed to bring in your John Deere Combine and harvest your neighbor’s field while he was sleeping or while he was on vacation, you weren’t allowed to do that.  But there was no prohibition if you were hungry, when you were walking through your neighbor’s field, you were allowed to pick an apple and eat it, you were allowed to do that.  The Law made a provision for it.  But they had so codified the Sabbath, and they had put so many layers of tradition and law upon the Word of God, that by this time it was ridiculous.  There was a whole codified system of things you could do to  break the Sabbath by this time.  And one of them was this, that on the Sabbath day if you walked through someone’s grain field, and you picked the grain and you started to rub it in your hands, that they considered the picking, that was reaping, and the rubbing the grain, that was threshing.  And that was work on the Sabbath.  Again, if you were a lady, you weren’t allowed to look in the mirror on the Sabbath, because if you saw a gray hair or a white hair and you picked it, that was reaping on the Sabbath.  And they knew if you looked in the mirror and saw, you’d be tempted to do that.  You weren’t allowed to carry anything on the Sabbath that was heavier than a dried fig (I guess that depends on the size of the dried fig, they didn’t specify).  On the Sabbath day you were allowed to spit, but you were only allowed to spit on a rock.  If you spit on the dirt, and it rolled and made a furrow, that was plowing.  [laughter]  Oh, these are all in the Talmud, they’re all written out.  If on Friday before the sun went down, you tied a piece of rope to your house, and you extended it, wherever that rope went was considered to be part of your house, so you could go as far as the rope went without breaking the Sabbath.  Without a rope you were only allowed to walk 2,000 paces on the Sabbath away from your home [technically 2,000 yards, or a nautical mile].  On the Sabbath, if your house collapsed, and they came and they dug and they found you, and said ‘Are you alright?’ and you said ‘Yeah’, they said ‘We’ll be back Sunday to dig you out.’  [laughter]  If you were trapped under your house but were ok, they waited until the Sabbath was over to dig you out.  It’s in the Talmud [which is the written, codified Oral law, committed to print several hundred years after Christ.  But these Oral Laws were the standard these Pharisees and scribes were operating on during the time of Christ.]  If they said ‘Are you ok?’ and you said, ‘No, there’s a big nail sticking through my leg’, they’d say ‘Oh ok, we’ve gotta dig you out then.’   That’s what they had done to the Sabbath, that’s how ridiculous it had become.  They’re going through the grain fields.  Now this is in the spring, I don’t know what the Pharisees are doing, they’re out there hiding in the grain fields.  I’m taking it for granted it’s less than 2,000 paces from their house.  And when Jesus’ disciples, now Jesus’ disciples are not at all embarrassed to pluck grain and eat it in front of him.  Isn’t that amazing?  Because they saw his eyes all day.  They saw his love for sinners, they saw him opening the eyes of the blind and healing the sick, they saw the way he treated sinners and tax gatherers and prostitutes.  There was no hesitancy in them to rub the grain as they walked with Christ, because they knew him.  It was the religious leaders, all of a sudden popping up out of the ground, ‘Huh!?’  We see them!’   You know, self-righteous people always watch you.  They hate your liberties.  [Check out The Four Freedoms of the Believer at the end of the prayer-groups article at http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Prayer-groupGuidelines.htm. Legalists absolutely hate these Four Freedoms of the Believer, because it removes all their supposed authority over you.  That’s why the Pharisees hated Jesus Christ.]  “Why are they doing that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”  Now Jesus doesn’t even get into that argument.  He answers them and says, “Have ye not read so much as this,”---now I love it when he says this to them, he drives them out of their minds, because all they did was read, that’s what they prided themselves in--- “what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him;”---that was their primary king, I like it when he asks them this---“how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?” (verses 2-4)  And this is in the days of Abiathar, 1st Samuel.  He said, ‘Didn’t you even read what David did?  How he went into the Tabernacle and he took the Showbread which only the priests are allowed to eat?  And he’s saying, you know, that’s because he’s going to say to them, he says it in Mark, that “Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man”, the Sabbath is an institution to benefit man, man is not made for the Sabbath.  The Sabbath was made for man, to benefit him, to provide a rest for him, and a time of worship and fellowship with God.  And there are certainly things to be mortified.  Hunger is not to be mortified.  The Sabbath does not take precedent over human need.  You dig that man from under his house on the Sabbath day.  And he’s saying ‘David was hungry’, hunger’s not to be mortified, it’s to be satisfied.  Thirst is not to be mortified, it’s to be satisfied.  Your need for air is not to be mortified, it is to be satisfied, we have certain [proper] thirsts and desires.  The desire for sex is to be gratified within marriage within God’s parameters, and is to be mortified until then.  Your desire to clobber somebody is to be mortified, not gratified.  [laughter]  We have all kinds of desires.  [Comment:  Technically, within God’s Law, in the chapter commanding God’s Holy Days, which are Feast days, God’s 7th day Sabbath is listed as the first commanded Holy Day, in Leviticus 23:1-3.  A feast day is when you have a feast, not a fast (except for one of them).  The Jews well understood you weren’t to mortify hunger on the Sabbath, but just the opposite, as part of their commanded law.  But the Pharisees had superceded God’s written commanded Law with their Oral Laws.]  But this is a genuine God-given desire, to eat, hunger, and to drink, thirst.  But Jesus is digging a little deeper than that.  He’s saying, ‘Didn’t you ever read what David, God’s anointed king, who was not yet recognized by Israel, did?’  Because Jesus was God’s anointed King who was not yet recognized by Israel, and nether did they recognize what he was doing. 

 

“I Am Lord of the Sabbath”

 

And he will say this to them, in verse 5, “And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”  Now you have to understand what he’s saying here.  He’s claiming to be Lord Sabaoth, he’s saying that he is Yahweh God, he’s claiming Deity.  You know, first they said ‘Who is this that forgives sins, this is blasphemy saying to this crippled may ‘Your sins are forgiven.’  Then they’re saying ‘Why do you eat with tax gatherers and sinners?’  Then they’re saying ‘Why don’t you fast?’  And then they’re saying ‘Why are you plucking grain on the Sabbath?’  And now all of a sudden he turns around and says to them, “The Son of man is Lord Sabaoth.”  ‘Why are you asking me these questions, I’m Yahweh God, Lord Sabaoth.’  [Pastor Joe is technically wrong, even though this may have been Jesus’ intent.  The Greek word for Sabaoth is Strongs #4519, “Sabaoth, a military epithet of God.  It is only used in Romans 9:29 and James 5:4 in the New Testament.  The word Luke uses when Jesus speaks this sentence in Luke 6:5 is Strongs #4521, “Sabbaton, Greek for “the Sabbath…day of weekly repose from secular avocations:---sabbath (day)…”  So Jesus is claiming to be Lord of the Sabbath in this verse, that he’s the one who is in overall charge of how it is to be administered.  As we can see throughout the Gospels, Jesus is observing the Sabbath day and teaching on it, but he is also running head-to-head and toe-to-toe with the Pharisees and scribes, as he is correcting their terribly improper enforcement and teaching about how the Sabbath day should be observed.  There are many Sabbath-keeping Churches of God in the United States and around the world, and quite a few of them exhibit the very same Pharisaic attitudes and legalistic codes of Sabbath enforcement over their people that Jesus was trying to correct.  To read a study-paper on this subject, log onto:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm.  You might say that these Sabbath-keepers  Pharisaic attitudes have kept them in the “old wineskin” category Pastor Joe talked about.  This article has mainly been written to show Christ’s corrective message about Sabbath observance.]   And you know they shot steam out of their ears.  This was the most radical statement he had made to date.  He’s saying, “I’m Lord even of the Sabbath.”  And the Sabbath predates Judaism.  It predates Israel, it goes back to the Garden of Eden, that there God and man rested together, man’s first full day of existence, created on the evening of the sixth day, first full day of existence, the 7th day, the first full day was sitting with God in the Garden.  Now look, we are not Sabbath observers.  If you observe Sabbath that is from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, “the evening and the morning was the first day”, that’s why it’s sundown to sundown, it you observe Sabbath, you have to work six days a week, because when you read the laws of Sabbath, “Six days shalt thou work, and the seventh day shalt thou rest.”  So don’t tell me you observe Sabbath unless you work six days a week.  If you observe Sabbath, every seventh year you have to let all your land go fallow, there’s a lot involved with it.  If you read Ezekiel, you read Exodus chapter 31, the Sabbath is a sign between Jehovah and the nation of Israel, not between Jehovah and the Church, between Jehovah and the nation of Israel.  The Sabbath was a rest at the end of God’s work, and not a rest because God was tired, it was a rest of satisfaction at the end of work.  The eighth day when Christ rose from the dead is rest that work is born out of. The rest is first, and then the work.  With the Sabbath, the work was first, then the rest.  For you and I, Jesus rose on the 1st day, the 8th day, the first day of the week, 8th, the number of new beginnings.  You read in Acts chapter 20, you read in 1st Corinthians that it was on the Lord’s day, on Sunday, that they brought their offerings, that they gathered for worship, that they broke bread, because it was resurrection day, it was the day that memorialized a new creation.  And that creation, the second creation begins with rest, and if you have genuine faith, James will say, let me see the fruit of it, let me see your works.  The first Sabbath, the work was first, the six days, and then it ended with a rest.  The Christian faith begins with a rest, and grows into work, as we serve him.  So we’re not bound by this, but certainly they were in that day.  And he claims here to be the Lord of the Sabbath.  [Comment:  That is Pastor Joe’s explanation for his Sunday-observing group.  And while that explanation may be suitable enough for them, it is neither suitable enough for Sabbath-keepers, who, to be fair, deserve to be allowed their own explanations.  Jesus actually rose right around sundown Saturday, exactly three days and three nights from when he was put in the tomb, on a Wednesday afternoon.  The early Christian Church, both in Judea and Asia Minor, according to a lot of recent historic works and archeological finds, was Judeo-Christian, worshipping on the 7th day Sabbath and God’s Holy Days of Leviticus 23.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm.  They, under the apostles Paul, Peter and John, obviously hadn’t heard of these modern arguments for not keeping the Sabbath and God’s Holy Days J.] 

 

The Pharisees Set Up Another Trap For Jesus

 

“And it came to pass also on another sabbbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught:  and there was a man whose right hand was withered.”  Dr. Luke takes note of which hand it is.  And it seems to indicate, “had” if the language is an indication, he wasn’t born that way, “had become withered.”  “And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.” (verses 6-7)  Now is the guy with the withered hand a setup?  Because the guy happens to be in there, it says the religious leaders, all they’re doing is watching Jesus to see if he was going to heal on the Sabbath. That is a compliment to the character of Jesus.  And there was a current debate going on within Judaism, because of all those other Sabbath laws we just talked about, ‘Could you help somebody on the Sabbath?’  They believed that if you were bleeding to death, you could put a tourniquet on, on the Sabbath, but you couldn’t do anything else until the Sabbath was over, then you would go back and continue the work.  You could do something just to save the person’s life, but you couldn’t do any more than that.  If the person fell off a cliff and was all broken, his bones are all broken apart, you go down, check him out, he’s ok, he’s breathing, you say, ‘Just wait there, we’ll be back tomorrow.’  If there’s definitely going to be death, then there was an allowance made.  But all the different degrees of this was in the middle of a current debate in Judaism, whether they could heal on the Sabbath, whether you could call for a doctor on the Sabbath.  So this man is there with a withered hand.  The religious leaders again are spying out Jesus to see what he’s going to do.  Verse, 8, “But he [Jesus] knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.  And he rose and stood forth.”  You know, he doesn’t say to them, ‘Why do you guys watch me?  Is this all you guys think about?’  ‘Don’t you have something better to do?’  Jesus is saying, ‘OK, you’re watching me to see if I’m going to do this?  Yo, buddy, come on over here and stand in the middle of the crowd where everybody can see you.’   He doesn’t say ‘Just wait until the crabs go away, I’ll heal you later.’  Jesus makes the guy stand center-stage.  The poor guy, imagine this poor guy, right hand is all withered up, he comes and stands right in the middle, right in front of everybody.  “Then Jesus said to them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?” (verse 9)  He sets them as a contrast, to save life or to destroy it.  Now he’s setting them in contrast because obviously it’s never lawful to do evil on the Sabbath, it’s never lawful to destroy life on the Sabbath.  He’s setting a contrast.  So then it must be lawful to do good or to save life.  He puts it in front of them. 

 

God the Son Gets Angry---What About Anger?

 

Now it tells us this in Mark, “that he looked around on them, and was angry”, Jesus was angry, because of the hardness of their hearts.  Very important for us to take note of.  And I think because many of us struggle with anger, probably most of us struggle with anger in a given situation, traffic.  You know, I mean, we’re on earth.  A lot of humans here, close to 6 billion of us [now the scale has tipped to just over 7 billion].  And I think a lot of Christians are condemned about anger, and I think there are some things we have to understand about it.  First of all, the Bible says we are created in the image and likeness of God.  God has anger.  Many times in the Old Testament we read of his anger.  Jesus was angry when he overturned the tables of the money-changers in the Temple courts.  Mark tells us clearly in this scene in the synagogue with the man with the withered hand, Jesus was angry, because of the hardness of their hearts.  Anger is a necessary thing.  It isn’t good or evil within itself.  It is necessary.  I have children.  I love them.  Anger is a necessary part of that love.  If I see someone trying to molest or injure one of my children, and I just say ‘Oh don’t worry honey, I love you.’  That kind of love is worthless.  If I see somebody messing with my kids, the kind of love I have for them demands that I am going to get there and stop that.  And unless you can whup me, you ain’t gonna whup them [and Pastor Joe is a big, muscular guy, I’ve met him J].  That’s real love.  And it’s not being phony.  Anger is necessary.  When we hear of 34,000,000 abortions in the last thirty years, there should be some anger within us.  When we see some of the injustices across our nation, there should be anger.  The problem isn’t that we have anger, it’s how we use it.  If you get angry in your home, the Bible says “be angry, and sin not.”  You’ve used it the wrong way once you’ve punched a hole in the sheetrock wall.  If for the next three days you’re spackling and painting, you used your anger the wrong way, or you’re gluing a chair back together.  You’re all laughing like you understand what I’m talking about [laughter].  The way we [tend] to use anger is sinful.  Anger is a necessary emotion.  Some of us when we get angry, we just cook inside, we seethe.  My wife is like that, my wife is a seether.  She can get angry and just, she can be a whole room away from me and I can hear it.  [laughter]  Instead of just putting down the dishes, she’s PUTTING! down the dishes, letting me know with every little sound that she’s cooking inside.  And people that do that get ulcers.  They internalize it.  Me, I’m a wall-banger.  I’m on the other side.  My anger, now don’t worry, I’m on the other side, I get it out, scream, turn red, grow horns or something, and then it’s done with.  I’m just different.  But people who use that kind of anger the wrong way end up in jail.  They do.  “Be angry, sin not.”  Nehemiah said when he was angry he communed with God.  He went and spoke within himself in his heart before God.  The Psalms say that we should commune with God upon our bed, it says, don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, if you’re fighting with your wife, don’t let the sun go down, make peace before you go to bed, or you’re going to wake up mad.  Some of you are going to need to remember this verse before you go to sleep tonight, so take note of it.  But don’t be condemned about anger.  It is part of the likeness of God that’s given to us.  We [tend to] use it selfishly.  We use is stupidly.  There is righteous indignation.  It was right for Jesus to be angry.  He looked around at the hardness of their hearts.  They did not want the Work of God to go forward because it did not fit into their old wineskin.  And they would have denied someone being healed to maintain their old wineskin.  And there are people like that.  You know, I have folks come up to me and say, ‘There was a young man sitting next to me today with a Grateful Dead shirt on, and I don’t think he should wear that to church.’  Do we have like a pre-Grateful Dead shirt meetings that get’s them straightened out so that they can come to church?  Besides, we’re all the ‘Grateful Dead’, really.  [laughter].  We were dead in trespasses and sins, and now we’re alive in Jesus Christ.  [applause]  And I’d rather have him sitting here hearing the Gospel than out at one of their concerts.  And would we, because it doesn’t fit into our own old wineskin, deny the Work of God in somebody else’s life, because they don’t cut their hair the way we do?---because they have a purple Mohawk on them, sitting next to you?  Bring ‘em all, bring ‘em all.  Because God did it in my generation, and he’s doing it now. [But God gets angry at situations more than people.  One of the keys to learning to demonstrate and develop God’s Agape-love is to understand these points about anger.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/Agape/Agape%20III.htm to learn more about this.]

 

Jesus Miraculously Heals The Man’s Withered Hand

 

“Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.”  This poor guy, he’s the center of attraction.  You know, he’s probably, when you have something like this, you’re self-conscious enough anyway.  You see people with handicaps, they try to conduct themselves not to be so obvious, because they get tired of people staring, being rude.  Jesus takes this poor guy and stands him right in the middle, with his withered hand, right in front of everybody.  And then he gives everybody a quiz, ‘Now is it right on the Sabbath day to…’  Now here’s this poor guy standing there.  “Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good or to do evil?  to save life or to destroy it?  Nobody’s saying anything.  “And looking round about upon them all,”---with anger---“he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand.”  Now was that unreasonable?  Was it unreasonable to say to a guy with a crippled hand, ‘Stretch forth your hand’?  Was it unreasonable to say to the guy laying on the litter ‘Rise up and walk, take your bed and go home’?  Was it unreasonable to say to the leper ‘Be clean’?  How about this, was it unreasonable to say to Lazarus ‘Come forth’?  He’d been dead for four days.  It’s not unreasonable when Jesus is saying it. He says to this guy ‘Stretch forth your hand, “And he did so: his hand was restored as whole as the other.  And they were filled with madness [anger]; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus” (verses 10b-11).  The other Gospels say “How they might kill him”, on the Sabbath.  Jesus says to the man, ‘Stretch forth your hand’, you have to understand, what you heard was SNAP, CRACKLE, POP!  All the bones were straightening out, all the muscles of the hand came out, the whole thing was restored immediately, right in front of them.  If you read 1st Kings, we hear there of Jeroboam, Jeroboam put his hand forth to take hold of a Prophet, and it says Jeroboam’s hand withered away to nothing, right in front of his own troops, in front of everybody.  And Jeroboam cried out, he said to the prophet, ‘Beseech the Lord for me, pray for me!’  And the prophet then prayed for Jeroboam, and then it says right in front of everybody his hand that was all withered went pop, pop, pop! and straightened all out again, came back again.  Same God.  Same God today.  You know, maybe he’s saying to you tonight, ‘Stretch out your life in front of me.’  Maybe he’s saying it to you tonight.  Maybe he’s telling you all of the old wineskins that you came in touch with had nothing for you.  But there is something.  Maybe he’s drawing your heart this evening, and telling you ‘All of this is true, it is who I am.’  Maybe he’s saying to you tonight, ‘If you’re sick in your heart, I’m the great Physician, got the right diagnosis, got the right cure, and the bill is paid in full.’  “Stretch forth your hand.  And he did so.”  Look at the reaction.  They were angry, wondering what they might do to Jesus…[transcription of a connective expository sermon given on Luke 5:27-39 and Luke 6:1-11, by Pastor Joe Focht of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:

 

Old Wineskins, New Wineskins, down through history:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/IntroChurchHistory.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

 

Four Basic Liberties of a Christian:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Prayer-groupGuidelines.htm

and scroll to last two pages.

 

Christ’s corrective message to the Pharisees, and us, about how the Sabbath should be observed (for those who observe the Sabbath, naturally):  http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm

 

Early Church History, what was the Early Christian Church really like?  Recent discoveries:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm

 

Anger and God’s Agape-love, what’s the balance between the two?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/Agape/Agape%20III.htm

 

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