III. What About Fasting?

And then the Pharisees have another question: "Well, why don't Your disciples fast? John's disciples fast, and You like him. Our disciples fast, and you don't like us. But why don't you fast? That's the thing for holy people to do." And Jesus' answer is amazing, but his answer is ultimately all about himself. Jesus' answer is, "Look, you don't invite people to the wedding and ask them to fast. Look, I am the bridegroom. I am the center of the cosmic party of the universe, and as long as I've around, we party. When I'm gone, My disciples will fast, but right now the bridegroom is here." Do you understand what Jesus is saying? Jesus is saying that "I'm the one that brings this world joy, and as long as I'm around, My disciples are going to rejoice. They're going to feast, not fast."

Now there are many occasions in the Gospels where when Jesus says something provocative like that, the Pharisees will tear their garments and throw ashes up into the air and wail and mourn and cry and say, "He's blaspheming!" Now Luke doesn't tell us whether they reacted that way, but they sure could have. Because the one who gives joy to this world is God, and Jesus is saying that he is here and that he is God; God in the flesh! He is saying something about himself: "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life." He comes to make our joy complete. That's who he is. He is the one who can give you life. He is the one who can give you joy, and as long as he's around, his disciples are going to be feasting. You see, it's a statement about who He is.

And then He tells them a story. In the story He says, "You know, nobody takes a new piece of cloth and patches up an old garment with that new piece of cloth. It doesn't match. And nobody takes new wine and pours it into an old wineskin that's already gotten a little more rigid and is dried out, because it will burst." And its as if He says, "That's the problem with you Pharisees. You keep wanting Me to bring back the good old days of Israel. I'm not here to do that. I'm here to do something bigger. I'm here to call sinners, men and women and boys and girls from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation to God through Me. The ceremonial law is not coming back again. The things that you care about and in which you've invested your righteousness have gone away. Ceremonial righteousness is gone; real righteousness is coming. And yet you're going to prefer the old wine. You're going to say, "You know, Jesus, I don't like what You're bringing. I like what I'm already drinking."' You see, Jesus is saying that he is not coming to do what they think he's here to do, because their view of what Messiah is going to do is too small. It's too narrow. They're satisfied with the righteousness they have. They're satisfied with the kingdom that was. He comes to bring a righteousness that they don't have, and to build a kingdom that has not yet been built. And they're not going to like it.

We can look back and we can wag our heads at the Pharisees and talk about what legalists they were. But, my friends, whether we're legalists or whether we're libertines today, if we're not trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, if we don't see that we're sinners in need of His grace, we are still sitting exactly where the Pharisees were, saying, "We like it the way it used to be. We don't like what You're bringing." If we're sitting in either of those seats, legalist or libertine, we're sitting exactly where the Pharisees are sitting and we're saying, "Jesus, we don't need what You're bringing."

And, my friends, that's the issue that is set before us today, because the only people that will be in this kingdom that Jesus is bringing are people who know that they're sinners and who know that they need grace. And there will be no sinner in that kingdom who, having received the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, will think, "You know what? His grace is not sufficient for me." Because just like Matthew, when you encounter this Jesus you realize that He's worth giving up everything, and He has a power to do and to save beyond anything you've ever imagined.

In the previous article we noticed the first point in this passage is that Jesus' call to discipleship is a radical call to embrace his lordship. Today, we'll look at two final points.

By way of reminder, the reason Jesus is telling that story is he knows that his purpose and his ministry does not match the expectation of the Pharisees and the scribes. They were hoping for a Messiah who would come along and rejuvenate Israel...take Israel back to the good ole days. And Jesus is telling them in these stories that that's not what He came for. He came to do something new, something that's beyond their expectations. And He tells them at the very end of the story in this strange, almost cryptic phrase in verse 39, that He knows that they're not going to like what He's come to do, but He's come to do it anyway.

II. Jesus Came for Sinners

The second thing we see in this passage is Jesus' description of what He has come to do. When Matthew responds to Jesus' call, he throws a party. And isn't that the only right response for a person who has discovered the grace of God in Jesus Christ, to rejoice this way? Shouldn't there be that kind of rejoicing when we come to worship the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins that He has given to us? Matthew thinks, "He's just called me! He's just saved me! Let's celebrate!" And he throws a party and he invites all his tax collector friends, because he wants them to meet Jesus. No man who has tasted grace wants to go to heaven alone. If you don't care about other sinners joining you in glory, then you just don't know grace. This man doesn't want to go to heaven alone. He wants all his tax collector and sinner buddies to be there and to meet the Lord Jesus, because this man is worth giving up everything for.

And the Pharisees are there. And they don't like the fact that Jesus is associating with tax collectors and sinners. Now of course there's an irony in what Jesus says in response. It's not that the Pharisees don't need what Jesus has to offer, it's that they don't think they need what Jesus has to offer.

My friends, every single one of us is either sitting where the tax collectors are, or we're sitting where the Pharisees are. If you don't know that you're a sinner, if you don't know that you need grace, you're sitting in the Pharisee's chair. And if you're a sinner who thinks your sin is just one step beyond the reach of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, here's what Jesus is saying to you: "I have come to call sinners. That's what I came for. Don't think that I can't do what I came for." Every single one of us is sitting in one of those two chairs.

When Jesus says He's come for sinners and not for the healthy, it's not because there are some people out there who are healthy and righteous. It's just that there are some people out there who think that they are. And notice what Jesus does. He calls those sinners to repentance.

You know, our culture loves to picture Jesus being with sinners, but our culture doesn't have a clue of what to do with Jesus' calling sinners to repentance. He comes to sinners and He says, "Repent; follow Me." That's what Jesus says He came to this earth to do, and the church must always continue to do what her Lord came to do: call sinners to repentance.

III. What About Fasting?

And then the Pharisees have another question: "Well, why don't Your disciples fast? John's disciples fast, and You like him. Our disciples fast, and you don't like us. But why don't you fast? That's the thing for holy people to do." And Jesus' answer is amazing, but his answer is ultimately all about himself. Jesus' answer is, "Look, you don't invite people to the wedding and ask them to fast. I am the bridegroom. I am the center of the cosmic party of the universe, and as long as I've around, we party. When I'm gone, My disciples will fast, but right now the bridegroom is here."

And, my friends, that's the issue that is set before us today, because the only people that will be in this kingdom that Jesus is bringing are people who know that they're sinners and who know that they need grace. And there will be no sinner in that kingdom who, having received the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, will think, "You know what? His grace is not sufficient for me." Because just like Matthew, when you encounter this Jesus you realize that He's worth giving up everything, and He has a power to do and to save beyond anything you've ever imagined.