We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. Today’s post will talk about Luke 5:27-38. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this article.
The Pharisees were starting to get annoyed by Jesus’ style of teaching. He was reaching out to the members of society that they felt were not worth their time. These self-righteous leaders didn’t want to associate with tax-collectors, prostitutes, or drunks.
Jesus, on the other hand, saw them as people who God loved and wanted to restore. In trying to find fault with this, the Pharisees questioned Jesus about fasting. They asked why the Lord’s disciples didn’t fast on the religious fasting days.
In His answer, Jesus basically told them that there was going to be a transition from Old Testament fasting to that which would take place in the New Testament. Jesus gives a description of the differences in parable form.
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.”
First, the Lord talks about the outside – a garment. The old way was to take an old cloth and patch an old garment. Fasting in the Old Testament was only a patch. At that time, fasting was all about getting God to listen to me. I needed to patch things up between God and me.
If I try to patch the garment in the New Testament it only makes things worse. Then how do I get God to hear me? I DON’T!!! In Christ we now have access to God 24/7.
Now we are a new garment and we don’t need a patch. But a new garment (back then) would shrink with usage. Fasting under the New Covenant shrinks the outer garment. That’s what we look for – the flesh to decrease. We want the voice of the flesh to get quieter.
Fasting forcefully puts down the flesh. This is because now it’s about me hearing from God. God hears me in Christ. But I need to hear Him when He speaks. And that’s where fasting comes in. Fasting helps me drown out the noise of my flesh.
But Jesus gave another parable…
“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.”
In this parable the old wineskins stand for those who walk in legalism. Once wineskins were used, they became empty, used up, dry, and unyielding. That’s a good description of many of the Pharisees. They had nothing on the inside to give that would bless others.
In the natural, new wine is unfermented grape juice. As it becomes wine, it produces gasses that pressurize the skins. Old, dry and unyielding wineskins would burst under that internal pressure.
A New wineskin – one that’s unstretched, oiled, soft, and pliable – is ready to be used in this process.
As we get that new wine of the Holy Spirit in us, it starts to ferment. There’s a spiritual pressure that builds up. That’s what brings growth.
Now you’re hearing from God and something is being poured into you. The pressure is building. You have something to give and pour out into someone else.
Listen to Jesus’ next statement.
“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
Once you get a taste for legalism, you don’t want the new work of the Spirit. Why is that? Simply put, legalism is intoxicating and addictive.
Legalism strokes my ego. “Look at what I’m doing for God. I read my Bible and pray every day. I go to church every week. I’m better than most.”
This “intoxication” with self-righteousness will put us to sleep, spiritually speaking. We don’t feel the need to hear from God. We can live the way we want as we perform our minimal church obligations.
Basically, we can live for God without being changed by the Spirit. That’s the deception of legalism.
I want to be prepared to hear His voice. This requires that I allow the Holy Spirit to work His change in me – to sometimes shrink my flesh, and stretch my inner man at other times. It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s worth it to see the Lord working through me.
Question: How often, and for how, long do you fast?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi