Timing: Old & New, 18 June 2017

Timing: Old & New
Mark’s Gospel: The Real Jesus
Mark 2:18-22

Series Big Idea: The shortest gospel is filled with good news about Jesus!

Big Idea: God is always doing new things, even though He never changes.

My fellow graduates, I want to encourage you to lead. I know you might not consider yourself to be a leader, but my favorite definition of leadership is simply “influence.” Each of us has countless opportunities every day to influence others, whether it be friends, a family member, co-worker, Facebook acquaintance, or even total strangers in public. Follow Jesus and lead/influence others to do the same.

But for all of the talk of leadership in our day, remember one thing: every leader has followers and opponents. Whether you’re a politician, CEO, store manager, or little league coach, there will be people who support you and people who can’t stand you!

Just ask Jesus!

We’re in the middle of a series exploring The Real Jesus from the gospel—or good news—of Mark, a biography of King Jesus.

Last week we saw Jesus questioned for inviting Levi into a meaningful relationship. “How dare he associate with sinners?” the religious leaders asked. But the criticism is still just beginning.

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” (Mark 2:18)

Fasting is an ancient practice which seems to have periodic surges in popularity. I’ve noticed several authors recently writing about the benefits of fasting, especially for weight control. This is not the context of our passage today.

Fasting was a popular practice in first-century Judaism. Some thought they could ward off demons by fasting. Others thought they could earn God’s favor by fasting, perhaps making their prayers more likely to be answered in a way that pleases them. Still others fasted in hopes of prompting mercy or attaining the forgiveness of sins. The most self-righteous would use fasting as a way to show their piety and gaining the applause and admiration of others.

This is not to say fasting is a bad thing. Hardly. Jesus fasted for forty days. It was sometimes connected to sorrow for the loss of a loved one. Jesus’ own death likely led to the fasting of the disciples as they grieved.

But there is an appropriate time and a place for everything.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: 
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build, 
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

There is a time to fast…and a time to feast!

Jesus answered,
“How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. (Mark 2:19-20)

I love weddings! There’s no celebration like a wedding. Last week Heather and I traveled about 3000 miles to California just to participate in a wedding.

The day was filled with joy, smiles, laughter, food, and feasting. And why not? Is there any greater party than one focused on love? If there is ever a time to eat, drink, and be merry, it is a wedding.

Jesus tells the religious leaders now is not the time for his disciples to fast. He is the groom. It’s time to party! There will be a day when he will be taken from them. He’s previewing his death on the cross. There will be no celebration on Good Friday, though Resurrection Sunday will be another story!

Jesus came to proclaim and practice the kingdom of God. The kingdom is God is not a funeral but a wedding party! You don’t fast at a wedding. You can’t fast at a wedding! It would be offensive to the host. It’s time to feast! Religion and the kingdom of God are completely different.

Jesus continues

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. (Mark 2:21)

This is a universal truth. I’m no seamstress, but I know garments will tear when they are washed and the patch of new, stronger fabric shrinks. The old and new are incompatible.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this reality. Replacement parts for old products often fail to fit. When my wife gets new glasses, she gets new lenses and frames because the new lenses won’t fit in new frames. I recently had to explain to someone a DVD will not work in their VCR!

Jesus is saying the old and new are incompatible. He didn’t come to abolish the law or add to it. He came to do something new.

Weddings are filled with fancy food, fancy garments, and fancy drinks, too.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22)

This is not a verse about alcohol, per se, but rather about another truth concerning the incompatibility of old and new. Animal skins, often goatskins, were used as containers for fluids. Old, stretched wineskins will burst when new wine is poured in and expands.

David Garland notes, “The question, ‘How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?’ (2: 18), is answered with proverbial sayings about not patching old cloth with new or putting new wine into old wineskins (2: 19, 21– 22).”

Jesus came to do a new thing. He will die for the sins of the world, the new garment, the new wineskins. Jesus will not merely reform the old, he will transform it. He announces the end of the old and the birth of the new.

Religion is like a ball and chain, weighing people down with guilt and shame.

Jesus showed us how to party, how to experience abundant life, how to soar with joy.

Why do you do what you do?

This is an important question for us all. What is behind our behavior? Why are you here this morning? Is it to impress others? To try to score points with God? Or to worship our LORD with others, knowing Jesus and making him known to our city and world?

It’s hard for us in our day to understand the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, but suffice it to say they were bold, loud, and arrogant. They judged, condemned, scorned, and criticized. They were stuffy, proud, fuddy-duddies!!! And they were no fun at all!

What about you? Do you live like you’re at a funeral or a wedding? Again, there’s a time and place for everything, but I wonder if more people would follow Jesus if we looked more like him. I wonder if the world sees Christians as boring, gloomy people depressed by Fox News rather than hope dealers filled with joy, peace, and love.

Jesus rocked their world…and the world of everyone he encountered. He replaced gloom with joy, death with life, despair with hope, and hate with love. This is why I love Jesus! Even if you skipped his death and resurrection—the climax of his ministry—his very attitude was refreshing. He hated organized religion!

Jesus announced the kingdom of God, saying God was becoming king in an entirely new way. Something powerful and explosive was about to take place…and history has never been the same since! We are invited to participate in the kingdom, the reign and rule of King Jesus.

Because of Jesus’ teachings, life, death, and resurrection we must think differently, think bigger, live more passionately. God never changes, but he’s always doing new things. Our church history is a great example of this. In 1930, we began a live radio broadcast. In 1966, we started a Christian radio station, WPOS, Proclaim FM. In 1996, church members launched a TV station, WLMB. Today you can download our sermon podcasts online. The message of King Jesus remains the same, but medium changes.

I can’t imagine what lies ahead for us as a church, but God knows, and it will be exciting. It won’t always look like the old, but it shouldn’t. There are great things in the rear view mirror, but if you look ahead you’ll see even more exciting things. And most exciting of all will be the ultimate party, the ultimate feast, the day when the groom returns for his bride, when Jesus returns for the Church. What a celebration that will be! Are you ready?

Credits: some ideas from Matt Carter (Austin Stone Community Church), Warren Wiersbe, NT Wright, J. Vernon McGee, Richard Niell Donovan, and David Garland.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • The Biggest Party Ever! 20 March 2011

    Big Idea

    God is preparing the greatest party ever! We are not only invited, we are to distribute invitations to everyone around us.


    On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine — the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. - Isaiah 25:6-8

    Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying:

    “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

    Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

    But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

    Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. - Matthew 22:1-10

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

    But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
    - 2 Peter 3:8-13


    For the past several week’s we’ve seen how God lost something, and He wants it back. That’s the theme from Genesis to Revelation. People think the Bible is a complicated book. Not really. It’s a deep book with a simple plot. It’s a straight-up love story. It’s a romance. The Father created a Bride for the Son. In Eden, that bride was seduced away by a deceiver. But the Son came into that Garden and vowed to fight to win back His precious bride. You’re no throw away. You’re worth fighting for. And that’s what the whole Bible is: The story of the Son’s fight to recapture His bride. When that battle is over, when every last person who will come back to the Son has come back, the Father will throw the biggest party ever – a wedding party.

    When this party happens, death is dead. Tears are gone. Sadness and mourning have no place at the table. It will be time to celebrate, because the search and rescue mission has been completed. People from every tribe and tongue and nation will party with God!

    The whole Bible is a romance story. God lost something . . . and He wants it back. But what we learn when we examine the plot more closely is that what was lost was the bride for the Son. The King wanted a bride for His Son. We, humanity, were supposed to be that bride. We were not just “made for God.” We were “made for Jesus,” to be His very own possession, His bride. When the serpent came into the Garden of Eden, he stole away the heart of the bride from the Bridegroom. But the Bridegroom has been fighting ever since to win us back. Right now, the Father is sending out invitations to fill up the wedding hall for His Son. People everywhere are being invited into a relationship with God that gives them a ticket to the greatest party ever.

    You know what E.A.C.H. really is?
    It’s the King’s servants going to the streets to invite people to come to the wedding banquet of the Son. That‟s what we‟re doing. Handing out invitations to the greatest party ever. Many people will come. And many others will find excuses as to why they don‟t want to come to the Son‟s party. But our job is to be the inviters. The wedding hall will be filled with guests. God will see to that. Our job is to hand out the invitations: COME TO THE WEDDING BANQUET!

    This explains why the entire story of the Bible ends with the biggest party ever – the wedding party for the Son and His bride. All of human history is moving toward this event – this massive wedding party. The Father will see to it that the Son WILL have His wedding day. He WILL have His bride. Everything in history is driving toward the fulfillment of this plan. The Son WILL be united with His bride, forever. That‟s what the last book of the Bible is about. The wedding of the Son and His bride.

    When you read through Revelation, you can feel the anticipation building toward the wedding party of the Son. In fact, the actual title of this last book is: The Revelation of Jesus Christ. This last book is The Unveiling of Jesus Christ. The end of human history, as we now know it, is The Presentation of the Bridegroom.

    Where is God right now? He’s waiting for more to come, for more to be found. And He wants to use US to do that finding. This is our job. This is what Jesus told the church to do. (Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:1-8).

    And then, when He sees fit, the time will be over. The day of salvation will have ended.


    You can listen to the podcast here.