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New Wineskins - Life of Christ Part 13

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2023 7:00 am

New Wineskins - Life of Christ Part 13

So What? / Lon Solomon

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This is not your father's Oldsmobile, is what the ad says on television. And you know, actually many of our fathers did own Oldsmobiles back in the 50s. Maybe some of you here, although you don't want to admit it, owned Oldsmobiles yourselves back in the 50s. Back in the 50s, these cars were great cars.

They were sleek, they were powerful, they were classy. In fact, I would love to own one of those 50 Oldsmobile convertibles today. But as a collector's item, I'd love to ride around in it in the springtime and show it off, and I'd love to have it in my driveway to bring back old, pleasant childhood memories. But I definitely would not want it for my everyday driving. And the reason is that a 50s Oldsmobile is just not a car for the 90s. It doesn't have seatbelts, it doesn't have air conditioning, it has no cassette or CD player, it has no Bose speakers, it has no radial tires, it has no cruise control, it has no airbags, it has no anti-lock brakes, it has no lumbar support, and it has no power anything.

My point is that what was state-of-the-art technology 40 years ago isn't even acceptable for basic transportation today. This reminds us once again of how fast our world is changing, doesn't it, at a rate that is unprecedented in human history, a fact that has enormous implications for us as Christians and for our churches as we grapple with how to keep communicating with a society that is changing as rapidly as our society is changing. And Jesus addresses that in our passage for this morning, as well as giving us a great personal so-what for our lives when he says that new wine needs to be put in what?

New wineskins. And that's what I want us to talk about this morning. Well, look there with me, would you? It says this. It says, they said to him, this is the Pharisees, the religious leaders of Israel, John the Baptist's disciples often fast and pray. And so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.

And they're complaining about this. Now it's important for us to understand that the religious leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, had turned Old Testament Judaism into a prison. They had concocted all kinds of rules, all kinds of regulations, which they had superimposed on the true worship of God. In fact, in the Mishnah, they had 613 of these rules laid out that they assiduously observed. One of these rules required them to fast every Monday and every Thursday. You say, well, Lon, where is that in the Bible? Well, the answer is it isn't in the Bible. The only day that the Bible demands fasting is one day a year called the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Other than that, the Bible doesn't demand fasting at all.

What they had done is gone way beyond what God had required in the Bible. And they had made up their own man-made tradition regarding fasting. And apparently they asked Jesus about this here in verse 33 on a Monday or a Thursday while they were fasting, but Jesus and his disciples were eating and drinking and having a ball. And they didn't like it.

And they didn't understand how this could be. Look at Jesus' response, verse 34. Jesus answered, Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he's with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and in those days they will fast. What's Jesus really saying? What he's really saying is that fasting is great.

It's appropriate when there is a reason to fast, but not just when tradition calls for it. Jesus says, Look, I'm like a bridegroom, and I'm here with my bridal party. And when the groom is with his groomsmen and the wedding is going on, nobody fasts. People rejoice.

People have a great time. But Jesus said there's coming a day when the bridegroom will be gone, no doubt looking towards the day when he will be crucified and hang on a cross. And he said when that day comes, there will be good reason for my disciples to fast, and they will.

But not now, because there's no reason for them to now. Folks, the issue here between Jesus and these religious leaders was not fasting. The issue was tradition, tradition for its own sake. The Pharisees were really asking Jesus the question that they asked him in Matthew chapter 15, verse 2, when they said to him very bluntly, Why do you break the tradition that we and the elders have set up? Why is it, Jesus, that you come along and break all of our traditions and all of our rules and all of our regulations that we've set up?

And Jesus' answer was just as straightforward. He said to them, Look, tradition is a good idea when it meets a vital need in people's lives. But when an old tradition becomes irrelevant, when it becomes obsolete, when it becomes useless, it needs to be scrapped.

And it needs to be replaced with something new that meets people's needs the way the old tradition used to, but doesn't anymore. And then he goes on to tell a parable to illustrate his point. In fact, he tells two, verse 36.

He told them this parable. Nobody tears a patch from a new garment and sews it onto an old one. If he does, he'll have torn the new garment and ruined it, and the patch from the new will not match the old. In fact, in Matthew's Gospel, he goes on to say the new patch will shrink up and tear the old garment worse. The first principle he gives or the first parable is from the world of stitchery, where Jesus says, Look, if you have an old garment that's got a rip in it, you don't take a brand new piece of cloth that's unshrunken and sew it on that rip and fit it in exactly, because when you wash the garment the next time, the new piece of cloth will shrink up and rip the garment worse.

No, Jesus said, new cloth needs to be made into new clothing, not patched onto old clothing. And then he tells another parable from the world of winery. He says, look with me, verse 37, And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the old wineskin, and the wine will run out, and the wineskin will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. In Jesus's day, the way they made wineskins is they took goat hair, goat hide, and they brought it around, and they sewed it into a circle, obviously with the hair out, because you wouldn't want the hair in.

So they put the hair on the outside, the skin on the inside, and they put wine in it. Now, after wine had been in one of these wineskins for a while, the wineskin began to become old and brittle and lose its elasticity. And Jesus said, that's fine for old wine, but new wine that hasn't fermented yet won't work in an old wineskin, because when wine ferments, it produces gas.

It gives off gas. And if you put it in a new wineskin that's elastic and flexible, the new wineskin will stretch with the gas that the new wine is making, and everything will be fine. But if you put it in an old wineskin that's become brittle and has lost its elasticity, as the gas is released from the new wine, it will burst the wineskin, the new wine will flow out onto the ground and be spilled and be lost and be ruined, and the wineskin won't be any good to anybody.

Jesus said, you don't do that. New wine in new wineskins, not in old ones. What Jesus is really trying to say to these religious leaders is this, that the wine that he's talking about is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of Jesus Christ about salvation and redemption.

And the old wineskin is the religious tradition that these people had concocted. And what he was trying to make them see is that the new message he was bringing could never be accommodated by the dried up, brittle, inflexible religious tradition that they had created. God had not given them these 613 rules. They had made them up. God had not told them to fast on Monday and Thursday. They had made it up themselves. God had not made the Sabbath a prison. They had. God had not created the kind of self-effort religion that they had come up with.

They made it. And Jesus was saying what I am bringing will not fit into the man-made religion that you've come up with. In order to appropriate what I'm offering you, Jesus said, you religious leaders are going to have to be willing to let go of those old useless wineskins and you're going to have to embrace a whole new way of relating to God.

You're going to have to learn some new wineskins. Now did he think they were going to do it? Look at verse 39. This is a fascinating insight into human psychology. No one, Jesus says, after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says the old's good enough. The old's good enough. Jesus was trying to say to these people, look, I don't expect most of you guys to change. I don't expect most of you guys to be willing to trade in your old wineskin of Judaism that's performance-based for what I'm offering in the gospel. And the reason is that as people, Jesus said, we tend to become wedded to old wineskins. We get comfortable and used to the way we've always done it. Even if the way somebody else is offering to do it is better, the fact is there's a tendency in all of us as people to resist change and we say things like, well, if in order to get that new wine it means I have to change wineskins, then I don't want any new wine.

Old wine's good enough for me. I don't want it. I'm not going to change. And I think the older we get, the worse it gets.

I'm watching it happen to me. I don't like it. I swore I would never get a car phone. I mean, I said things like, for a hundred years they made cars without telephones, so why would I want to put a telephone in my car? I hate the telephone.

I spent my whole day trying not to have to talk on the telephone. The only time I can ever get away from the telephone is when I'm riding in my car, so why in the world would I want to put one in the car? And I swore I'd never get a car phone. Well, I got a car phone.

And I love it. I love my car phone. Bell Atlantic loves me, too. I can't believe how much money I spend making telephone calls from my car.

And really, at 19 cents a pop, you wouldn't think they could add up as high as I get. But I love my car phone. In fact, I'm getting another one for my other car. But I didn't want one. I resisted it. I fought it. Why?

Because that's human nature. We don't like new stuff. We don't want to change.

We don't want to deal with changing wineskins. We're happy with the way things are, even if the new thing's better. And nowhere is that more obvious than when it comes to religious tradition. You know, the forces that are shaping our world today are very powerful.

They've created a world that is so different from when your father drove his 50s Oldsmobile. And yet as a church, we seem determined, not just our church, but the church in general. We seem determined to hold on to traditions and ways of doing things and ways of trying to communicate the message of Jesus Christ that worked well with Wally and Beaver. But folks, Wally and Beaver are dead. They are gone forever. So is Donna Reed.

They are never coming back. This is the world of Bart and Homer and Marge. This is the world of Raphael and Leonardo and Michelangelo and Seinfeld and Kramer.

It's a different world today altogether. And the really important question for our church and every church is, have we got the unchanging wine of the gospel packaged with the right new wineskin to keep communicating it to the world of today? That's the question every church has to keep asking itself. Have we got the unchanging wine of Jesus Christ in his gospel packaged with the right wineskin that we can keep communicating to this world? George Barna, the great demographer here in America, said, and I quote, Typically the church has been five to ten years behind society, responding to changing conditions long after the transitions have begun. But now we have run out of time. If we want the Christian faith to remain a vibrant alternative to the world system in this decade, Christianity must prove itself to be real and to be viable, or we will become just another spiritual philosophy in the history of mankind, end of quote.

In his book, Dying for Change, Leith Anderson cites research that says 85% of America's Protestant churches are either stagnating or dying today. We're not changing wineskins fast enough. You say, okay, Lon, okay, okay, come clean with us now. What change have you got up your sleeve that you want us to make?

We know there's something now. Okay, you know, at least be honest with us. Tell us what is it we're going to do, all right? I want to honestly tell you I don't have anything up my sleeve.

I have no change in mind that we need to make at the present time. What I'm trying to do is make sure that we never forget a mindset. You know, when my daughter was in the hospital up at Hopkins, they put an IV in her arm, a little lock, and every day they would come in once a day and they would take a needle full of stuff and they would shoot it in this lock. And finally one day I asked the nurse, what are you doing?

What are you putting in here? She said, well, I'm putting in heparin. It's a blood thinner.

I said, well, why are you doing that? She said, well, we do that once a day because, she said, there's a natural tendency of blood to clot. And if we don't put in heparin through this lock once a day, the blood will clot around the IV and if we ever really need it in an emergency, it will be clotted up and closed and we won't be able to use it. So as a matter of simply maintenance to keep it free and flowing, we shoot some heparin in once a day. And folks, as people, our natural tendency is to clot. Our natural tendency is to stagnate with what we're comfortable with and want no change, and so this morning I'm just trying to give us a little heparin flush.

That's all. I have no great change in mind. I'm just trying to flush this church with a little heparin this morning to make sure we don't clot up. I'm trying to reinforce a mindset that I want us as Christians and I want this church family never to lose, a mindset that says if it doesn't violate the clear teaching of the Bible, we are willing to change any wineskin, no matter how much of a sacred cow it may be, if it will make us more effective in carrying out our mission. And what is our mission? Touching lives with the love of God.

A mindset I'm trying to accomplish in us that says our mission matters more than our tradition, and if we can do our mission better by changing a tradition, we will change the tradition. We'll use puppets. We'll use drama. We'll use contemporary Christian music.

We'll use clips from Bill Cosby. We'll use recovery groups. We'll go to three services. We'll go to a Saturday night service. We'll give away Nintendos and VCRs at junior high outreaches. You say, you really do that?

Yeah, we do. But you can't come. You're too old. We'll let high schoolers shoot each other with paint pellets.

You're too old. Whatever it takes to reach people. You understand what I'm trying to say? Rudyard Kipling, the Pulitzer Prize winning British writer and novelist, as a very young man, met for the very first time General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. And the first time they met, he didn't like William Booth very much because he was from a very staid religious British tradition. And when the first time he ever met William Booth, William Booth was at an evangelistic meeting in the open air in London playing the tambourine on stage, and he didn't like that. That offended Kipling.

After they became friends later on, Kipling remarked to Booth how much he disliked the tambourine and how much it offended him that he would be playing the tambourine. And I love what William Booth said. I quote. He said, young man, if I thought I could win one more soul for Christ by standing on my head and beating the tambourine with my feet, I would learn how to do it. End of quote.

You like that? I love that quote. Because this is a man who's letting his mission drive him, not tradition. And Jesus was a man who let mission drive him, not tradition. These Pharisees were tradition driven. Jesus was mission driven.

And I believe that every effective church, every effective Christian has got to be a mission driven Christian, a mission driven church, not tradition driven. And I want to keep saying that to you until I convince you that it's right. Until I convince you that it's right. When we parked over at Cooper this morning, one of my boys asked me, why are we doing this? He said, you're the pastor. If anybody ought to get a park over on the main lot, you ought to get to park over there, dad. Why do we have to park over here and ride the shuttle or walk over? Now is that a good question? It is a good question.

What's the answer? The answer is that it's worth it for the mission. And I said to him, you know, I said we are out to reach people for Christ. And I would rather park over here and leave a spot available in the other lot for a new person to make it easier for them to come, easier for them to hear about Jesus, easier for them to learn what it means to trust Christ, easier for them to get plugged into God. I can walk because I'm walking not because I don't want to park over there on the lot. I'm walking because I understand the mission and I'm willing to make this sacrifice for our mission.

You understand what I'm saying? That's a mission-driven mentality and that's what we need to have as a church and as people. That's what Jesus had. That's why he and the Pharisees didn't get along so good because they were tradition-driven.

They didn't want to change any old wineskins for new ones. But, folks, if that's the mentality we have, we'll never reach anybody. Well, that's our passage for this morning. And now we want to ask the question. You say, I thought we just got it.

No, no, that was just talk. This is so what? We've already said that the main point here, let's not forget the main point, is that you can't take Jesus Christ and superimpose him on man-made religion. It won't work. It's like smearing fresh icing on moldy cake.

It just won't work. But the same truth applies to us on a personal level. You say, what do you mean?

Let me explain. I find that so many people who've never accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, but they're thinking about it. They're thinking about it. Man, these people can get excited about the new wine Jesus is offering them. He's offering them the new wine of forgiveness of sin. He's offering them the new wine of eternal life. He's offering them the new wine of unconditional love. He's offering them the new wine of a personal walk with God and so many other things. And they get excited about that.

But so often what you find these people wanting to do is to kind of smear all of this right on top of the moldy lifestyle that they're presently living. They want to take Jesus' new wine and they want to put it in the old wineskin of their ungodly lifestyle. And God says this is not one of the above selections. This is not work.

This is not acceptable. Jesus is not looking for people who want to take new wine from him and put it in their old wineskin. That's not what he's after. Jesus is after people who are prepared to make a radical change in their lives. People who are prepared to junk their old wineskins, junk their old sinful habits, junk their old dried up brittle lifestyle and let him make their lifestyle into a brand new wineskin. That's what he wants. You say, well, Lon, are you saying that for me to accept Jesus Christ, for him to save me and redeem me, that I have to go change all my life and become Pat Robertson?

No. No, folks, you couldn't change your own flesh by your own power anyway. No, that's not what God's looking for. Jesus Christ will do the changing. But you and I have to be willing to present him with a willing heart, a heart that's willing to be changed, a heart that's willing to submit to his reshaping of our lifestyle, his reshaping of our habits, his reshaping of our values and our attitudes. The Bible says, Romans Chapter 10, if we confess that Jesus is Lord and we believe that God raised him from the dead in our heart, we will be redeemed. We will be saved.

But did you notice what we have to confess with our mouth? That Jesus is what? Lord. Jesus is not offering to be your fire escape from hell. Jesus is offering to be your Savior and your Lord. And as Lord, he's going to change your wineskin. And it's a good deal.

It's a good deal. If you've never done that and you're here, I hope you will. So 22 years ago, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord. And I said, Jesus, I need you to change my wineskin. My wineskin stinks. My wineskin is awful. If the wineskin of my lifestyle was so great, I wouldn't want you and I wouldn't need you, but my wineskin is in terrible shape.

And I understand that's part of the deal and that's great. And I'll tell you, I'm not the same human being I was 22 years ago because Jesus Christ came into my life as Lord and he made some sweeping changes. And every change Jesus Christ made in my life has been for my benefit, every one of them.

Now, at first, I don't know that I altogether got this. I mean, it took me a while to figure out that this is the way it really was. I'll never forget one time I was sitting in my fraternity house smoking dope with my friends. I think I've told you this before, some of you, but I'd become a Christian about two, three weeks before this and I was sitting around smoking dope with my fraternity brothers, six or eight of them there in the circle, and I was trying to share Christ with them.

That's true. I told you a couple weeks ago I had committed myself to try to share Christ with everyone in my fraternity brothers. One afternoon we were sitting around smoking dope and I would take my turn and then I would try to share the Lord with them. And I was very serious and I was very committed to this.

And we got a little higher and a little higher and a little higher and finally we were all pretty high and I'm talking about sin and their need to repent and how God loves them and how Jesus died on the cross for them and I'm really intense into this. And finally one of my fraternity brothers just started laughing. He just started laughing, he rolled back. He was a big roly-poly fellow anyway and he rolled back, I'll never forget it, just laughing. And I got so angry and I said to him, what are you laughing at?

Oh, I was so upset. And just like that he sat up and he pointed his finger at me, I'll never forget it, and he said, Solomon, you're such a hypocrite. He said, hey, you sit here smoking dope and getting high just like all the rest of us and talking to us about sin and about righteousness and about holiness, but you're sitting here getting high just like all the rest of us. He said, I don't want to hear about it, you're just a hypocrite like the rest of them. Well, what do you say to that?

He said, there's not much to say because he was right. And I'll never forget, I got up, never said a word, just walked out the room, went for a long walk. And on that walk I said, you know, Jesus, if my life's really going to count for you, there's really some changes we're going to have to make, isn't there? Changes in the way I'm living, changes in my habits.

And one of the first is we've got to deal with this dope. I said, you know, Lord, for all these years I've been saying I can quit whenever I want, quit whenever I want, I can quit whenever I want, but you know what, honestly, Lord, I'm not so sure I can quit. But if you'll give me the power to quit, I'll do it. This is just one of the sweeping changes Jesus Christ made in my life. And you know, once we become Christians, the process doesn't stop. There are many of us here who are Christians, who somehow look at the process as something that we did the first year we were Christians. We got rid of smoking and we got rid of drinking and we got rid of doping and we got rid of carousing and we did all that. And then we say, oh, this is great. I traded all my old wineskins for new wineskins and now it's just a coast.

Uh-uh, no, no, not right. After more than 20 years, you know, God is still asking me to submit more and more of my old wineskins to him for transforming. Because, you see, as Christians, God's goal is not just to redeem us, but God's goal is to transform us into his likeness, into godly men and women. And Ephesians chapter 4 says that God's goal is to have us put off the old self, the old person, with all of its corrupt habits and desires and actions and speech and to put on a new person that Jesus Christ wants to create in us that follows holiness and righteousness and that is a lifelong process. It's just that God digs deeper as the years goes on.

He digs deeper. The wineskins are the deeper wineskins as the years go on, but he still goes after them. Over the last year, as you know, with my daughter being so sick, God has really used all that to zero in on a whole bunch of old wineskins in my life. You say, you mean you still use dope? No.

No, I don't do that. But there's some other old wineskins in my life that are much deeper that God's trying to hit in on this last year. Old wineskins like arrogance and self-sufficiency. Old wineskins like insensitivity to the needs and the hurts of people around me. Old wineskins like valuing things more than people. Old wineskins like materialism and love of material things more than having a heavenly focus. Man, there's a whole bunch of old wineskins in my life that God's been going after.

And they were buried deeper than some of the others were. And it took a little longer for God to get me willing to let him go to work on these. I was willing to let him go to work on the other ones, but these took a little longer before I was willing to let him go to work on them. But you know, even though it's been hard, very hard, very hard sometimes, I'm really glad with what I see God doing in my life.

And I believe as a Christian, if you'll let God go to work on the old wineskins in your life, that you'll be glad you let God have his way with you as well. Will it always be easy? No.

Will it hurt sometimes? Sure. Will you always be better for it when God's done? You bet. You bet. If you're a Christian, my question to you as we close this morning is, what old wineskins is God wanting to change in your life?

Huh? Maybe he's out after your sexual habits. Maybe you thought you could just kind of smear Jesus Christ over your sexual habits and everything would be fine.

But if you accept Jesus Christ the way we are supposed to as Savior and Lord, he's not going to let you just smear him over your old sexual habits. Maybe he's out after the old wineskin of your business ethics. Maybe you thought you could just kind of smear him right over the way you've always done business. But he's not going to let you do that. Not if the way you've always done business isn't righteous. Maybe God's out after the old wineskin of your foul language. Maybe you thought you could just accept Christ and go right on speaking the way you've always spoken. No, no, no.

That's not the deal. Maybe he's out after your arrogance or your self-sufficiency. Maybe there's bitterness in your life towards parents or other people for what they've done to you and you thought you could just accept Christ and smear it right over that bitterness.

No way. Maybe there's addiction to pornography in your life or substance abuse. God wants to heal you. He doesn't want to just smear himself over that. He wants to heal it.

Maybe there's poor self-image in your life. God wants to heal it. He doesn't want to smear himself over the top of it. He wants to fix it.

Maybe there's a self-centered lifestyle with jealousy and competition, fleshly competition. God wants to deal with that. And through your struggles and through your disappointments and through your heartaches in life, my friends, God is trying to remold your life and change your wineskins for your own benefit.

He's trying to take your old self off and put a new person on. And if you're wise, you'll humbly submit to him and let him do his work. Remember, Jesus Christ isn't out to take anything good away from you. He's going to take away a lot of pain and a lot of hurt and a lot of self-destructive behavior and replace it with behavior that's a blessing, with attitudes that are a blessing, with healing. God's not out to take anything from you, but to give you healing and wholeness. Let God have his way in your life.

Let him be the potter. You volunteer to be clay, and God will make something beautiful out of your life. Let's pray. Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you this morning and we thank you that the new wine of the gospel could not be put in the old wineskins of Judaism that was based on performance and human effort, but that you brought us a new way of living, a way of living based upon the grace of God, giving us something that we didn't deserve freely just because you love us. We're so grateful for that. But Lord, remind us that this principle goes beyond just the gospel and salvation.

It extends to the way we live as a church and it extends to the way we live as people. And I pray for each of us here this morning that you would work in our lives, Lord, and you would make us into men and women who are willing to let you go to work on the old wineskins in our lives. Lord, you are the potter. Help us volunteer to be clay. And Lord Jesus, I pray that we would lay ourselves humbly at your feet for whatever changes you want to make in our lives, knowing that you're not going to take anything good away from us. You're going to heal us and do things that are a blessing and a benefit to our lives. Work these truths into our hearts this morning, Lord, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-08 09:19:28 / 2023-03-08 09:32:49 / 13

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