Jesus attended a very nice banquet with tax collectors and his close followers.
He challenged the criticisms of the religious authorities by comparing his actions with that of a doctor and saying, “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5.32).
Another Shot at Jesus
The religious authorities didn’t know how to respond to Jesus’ loving logic, so they focused their attention on the issue of fasting.
They said, “John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink” (Luke 5.33).
Joel Green, the author of the commentary on Luke I have been studying, wrote this about fasting: “Fasting is a sign that things are not right.”
Things were not right in Israel and that is why Anna the prophetess engaged in frequent fasting and prayer (Luke 2.36-38).
On the other hand, things were quite right with Levi and his fellow tax collectors. The good news of God’s love reached them and gave them the opportunity to be free from oppressive sin.
The Good News is Celebrated
Levi was leaving his old life and beginning a new one (Luke 5.28). He wanted to give his fellow tax collectors an opportunity to meet Jesus and have an experience similar to his.
Things were not wrong for Levi’s guests and Jesus brought that to the attention to the religious authorities.
He said, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you?
“The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days” (Luke 5.34-35).
When Pastor Jake Taylor finished his sermon last Sunday, the congregation applauded. I don’t think they were clapping that the service was over and they could go home and watch the Chief’s football game.
They applauded because they celebrated the goodness of God that was presented through his sermon.
Worship services are a time, when we rejoice over God’s love and the kind of transformation that occurs with outcasts like Levi.
Jesus used the illustration of a wedding to make his point about a reason to celebrate. He also alluded to the fact that he was the bridegroom.
A Puzzling Parable
If you take the parable Jesus told the crowd out of context, it is hard to understand. Let’s look at the parable first and see what Jesus was teaching.
— Luke 5.36-39 – He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old.
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and 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 wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”
I had trouble understanding and applying this parable for years, until I realized that Jesus applied it to his actions with Levi and the other tax collectors at the banquet.
Everyone knew that new wine would burst old wine skins, because the elasticity of the old skins had reached their limit. The same was true about new cloth on old clothing.
Jesus fulfilled the prophesies about the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom was present and old ways of dealing with people had to be changed.
When one rotten apple spoils the whole sack of apples or one person with a virus infects others, it is best to remain separate from them. This was the old way of dealing with humans.
When the Great Physician has arrived, he will heal the virus and transform the rotten character of a human. This is God’s new program that requires a new approach.
How To Fast
Jesus did not eliminate the practice of fasting. In the Sermon on the Mount, he said “When you fast . . .” (Matthew 6.16).
Jesus didn’t say “if you fast,” but “when you fast.” He expected people to fast.
Why should we fast? When things are not right, it is time to fast.
Here are some tips on fasting for the first time.
(1) Try eating a light meal the night before you begin your fast.
(2) When beginning a fast, don’t eat breakfast or the noon meal. You can resume eating with the evening meal.
(3) Use the times when you would normally eat to read your Bible and pray.
(4) When you are hungry, just tell yourself that you are not really hungry. You have plenty of energy stored up in your body and you can complete the time of fasting.
Drinking water will solve the hunger sensations.
When you have a feeling of hunger, let it be a sign to tell God how much you need him.
(5) Pay attention to what God teaches you during this time.
When I have fasted, I have often realized how self-focused I am. This wasn’t what I was looking for, but it was what God wanted me to know.
Rudy Ross and I have a YouTube video on this passage. Please take a few minutes to listen to it. Rudy adds insights that are not in this blog article. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.