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Jesus and the Spirit Part 4

Text: Luke 6:12-49

Introduction: Our New Life: Following Jesus in the Power of the Spirit.

  • Who has been your teacher about what it means to be a Christian? It is easy for us to become confused about what the Christian life is all about.
    • I grew up being trained in the Madison Way! I discovered its inadequacies and felt a deep sense of longing for something more.
    • Many have had a similar experience with doing church in the way they learned growing up. What can one do when this happens?
    • Some reject the whole thing and become bitter critics. Others seek a new specialist in doing church. There is another possibility!

Discovering Luke 1-6 as a Clue for What to Do When You Wake Up

Luke Began His Gospel Inviting His Reader to Discover the Real Jesus.

  • 1-2: The true identity of this man named Jesus.
  • Luke 3-4: The Spirit-filled teaching & work of Jesus.

Beginning in Luke 5, as Jesus continues to teach and work in the Sprit’s power, his work takes a particular emphasis: calling and making disciples.

  • People who follow him will learn a new way of life as they trust him and practice what he teaches and shows them do.
  • Unlike many contemporary churches, Jesus was not primarily concerned about building crowds and impressive institutions: he called followers to learn from him how to live authentically in the presence & power of God.

We also discover the growing criticism of Jesus by the Religious Specialist.

  • The Pharisees and Scribes Criticize Jesus and his disciples.
    • He does not fit their understandings and practices.
    • His presence is a challenge to their status and power.
  • They criticize Jesus for forgiving the lame man (Luke 5:17-26).
  • They criticize Jesus’ fellowship with Levi & Levi’s party. (5:27-32).
    • They disapprove of the people Jesus chooses.
  • They criticize Jesus and his disciples for not fasting. Lk. 5:33-38
    • Jesus is the “bridegroom,” and they have joy being with Him.
  • They criticize Jesus’ Sabbath observance (6:1-11).
    • Jesus teaches and shows the real meaning of the Sabbath.
  • These harsh critics are committed to maintaining their established institutions, power, traditions, and practices.
    • Lacking spiritual insight and discernment, they hear what Jesus teaches & see what he does, and they judge him harshly.
    • The source of their problem: They prefer the old wine of their traditions over the new wine of God’s kingdom (Lk. 5:36-39).

Their criticism does not distract Jesus from making new kingdom people!

  • He remains focused on the work his Father has given him.
    • Luke 6:12-20—in the large crowds, some are disciples.
    • He calls some disciples into a smaller circle of 12. They will be trained to be leaders of his kingdom work when he departs.
  • As Jesus forms disciples, He trains their minds & hearts (6:20-49)
    • Read aloud what Jesus emphasizes here and consider your way of daily thinking.
  • Jesus believes it is possible for people like us to become like him.
    • He sees that possibility in us and is ready to train us for that life.

Conclusion: What will you choose: the new wine of the kingdom or the old wine of the religious tradition that formed you? (5:36-38)

  • We cannot find the life of the kingdom given the way most of us were trained.
    • Most of us were trained “the successful way to do church.”
    • We often cling to our memory of & preference for the old wine.
  • Jesus invites us to join him, follow him, and become his apprentices.
    • The promised result: an abundant life transformed by Jesus through the work of His Spirit who forms the life of Jesus in us.
    • Mel Brown was an example of following Jesus in a career.

Notes

Wright: Luke, following Mark at this point, attaches to this story a string of short sayings about just how new this kingdom-message is. For a start, it rules out fasting. Fasting in Judaism, and in the various sects and groups of Jesus’ day, was a sign of waiting, of bewailing the present time when God’s kingdom still had not arrived. It was a way of looking back to the disasters that had befallen Israel, and humbling oneself in repentance to pray for God’s mercy. But what if God’s mercy was now alive and active, healing, celebrating, creating a new world and inviting you to enjoy it? Once again, the party theme: this is like a wedding-feast (a regular Jewish image for God’s coming new age), and the last thing you do at a wedding is abstain from food or drink. It’s a celebration of life itself. Yes, there is a dark note to this as well: one day the bridegroom will be taken away, and then it will be time to fast once more. But it won’t be for long. Luke’s gospel ends with two Easter meals, one in Emmaus and one in the upper room. The bridegroom returns, and his risen life means that God’s new age has been well and truly launched.

Luke’s version of the sayings is slightly different from Mark’s. In Mark’s, the point about the new cloth is that it’s unshrunk, so when it shrinks it will ruin the patching job. In Luke’s version, the point is that by cutting out a new piece of cloth you will both ruin the new coat and not help the old one. There’s no use, in other words, trying to see if you can fit some bits of Jesus’ kingdom-programme into the programmes of John’s disciples and the Pharisees. Take one element of Jesus’ work, and you miss the whole; and you can’t, in any case, fit that one element into the old ways of thinking. You have to take the new thing whole or not at all.

So too with the wine and the skins. Try to fit Jesus’ new work into the thought-forms and behaviour-patterns of John’s movement, or the Pharisees’ movement, and all you’ll get is an explosion (it had already started to happen). But—the last line is unique to Luke, and it’s a solemn warning—don’t expect the people who have given their lives to the old movements to be happy about switching allegiance. They are likely to stay with what they know. They have got used to the old wine and are frightened they won’t like the new.

That’s a perennial problem faced by all reformers, but of course this passage isn’t about any and every innovation and reformation that people may dream up. People sometimes use this passage to justify every bright idea and to mock every tradition, but that’s not the idea. Jesus is doing a new thing; this new thing still forms the basis of Christianity today. The real challenge of this passage is to see where in the world—and, of course, in the church too—people are living today as though the old age was still the norm, as though the new life of the gospel had never burst in upon us. The task then is to live out the new life, the new energy, which was at the heart of Jesus’ teaching and work.[1]

 

[1] Wright, T. (2004). Luke for Everyone (pp. 64–65). Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.