THE SCANDAL OVER SACRAMENTS

Intro: Jesus is a person who likes to cause trouble! Jesus was busy upsetting custom and tipping sacred cows from the moment He appeared and began His ministry on earth to the moment He returned to Heaven. Jesus was involved in a series of religious scandals involving the Jews.
When Jesus publicly pardoned a man for his sins in verse 5, He had already offended the religious Jews. Then they became enraged because He is at Matthew's house for a feast, 2:16. They couldn't comprehend why Matthew, an apparently religious Jew, was spending time with sinners as a tax collector. As a result, sinners were embroiled in scandal. One more scandal between Jesus and the Jewish leaders is revealed in the verses we've just read. This time, it has to do with their customs. They are once more offended because Jesus dared to disregard their rituals! I believe that no other group of people is as challenging to deal with as religious people. You select a person who is ensnared in ritual, tradition, and legalism; The majority of them are as vicious as the devil if you step on their tiny belief system. It will only take a split second to realize that their religion has never truly impacted their hearts and produced true godliness and salvation. In these verses, Jesus encounters these kinds of people. He is receiving criticism from a group of non-believers. They are aware of the rules, rituals, and lessons imparted to them by others, but they are unaware of the life-altering power of a personal relationship with God, 2 Timothy. 3:5. The scandalous Savior has already shown us how to handle The Scandal Over Sinners. We will observe the Lord's response to the Sacrament Scandal in these verses. A "religious ceremony or ritual" is a "sacrament." Most of the time, people who take part in sacraments believe that doing so makes them more favorable to God. Baptism, for instance, is believed to have soul-saving powers by some. Our friends who are Roman Catholics practice seven different sacraments, which they believe can bring about salvation. In fact, grace is the only way to God's blessing and salvation! Let's look at the truths that are revealed in this passage as we watch how the Savior dealt with the sacramental scandal. I. v. 18 JESUS AND THE REBUKE A. The Ritual: The Pharisees and John the Baptist's disciples were known to observe fasting as part of their lifestyles, as this verse explains. Self-denial is a part of fasting. In an effort to develop spiritually, it aids in mental and emotional concentration. The flesh is denied during a time of fasting, and the focus is on seeking God's face. The person who is fasting might not eat or do anything else that gives them physical satisfaction for a while. The Law never explicitly forbade fasting. In point of fact, there is only one location in which it is even implied. God instructed the people to "afflict your souls" in the Day of Atonement regulations, Lev. 16:29. However, by Jesus' time, fasting had become an important part of Jewish life. For instance, the Pharisees fasted twice a week. cf. Luke 18:12) On Mondays and Thursdays, they fasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, they did not really try to seek the Lord by fasting. In an effort to impress both men and God, they fasted. They would fast for a period of twelve hours, after which they would indulge in food. The Pharisees were of the opinion that their self-sacrifice would be rewarded by God. Matt, they also did everything in their power to ensure that other people were aware that they were fasting. 6:16-18. Their faces would become whiter; their heads with ashes; wear clothing that is clearly in disarray; don't take a bath; and they made an effort to convey as much sadness and grief as they could. They wanted everyone to be aware of their actions! The religious Jews not only practiced and regulated fasting, but they also instructed others to do so. They were hoping that the average person would act in the same swift manner as they did. These men had elevated a man's tradition to the point where it was equivalent to the law. While we're on the subject, allow me to offer some thoughts on the subject of fasting. 1. The Bible does not explicitly mention fasting. However, it is also not prohibited. 2. Fasting is dedicating time to prayer, Bible study, and meditation during the time that normally would be spent eating, sleeping, or doing something else physical. 3. The proper spiritual priorities lead to fasting. Our spiritual needs are significantly less important than the pure moments of fellowship with God and the word's meat. Fasting recognizes this importance. 4. Fasting does not convince God or impress Him in any way. 5. Only when it is used to seek God's face for a time of personal spiritual growth does fasting have merit. B. The Rebuke: Returning to verse 18, Jesus is having a feast with His disciples at Matthew's house. It's possible that this feast was held on one of the Jewish fast days—a Monday or a Thursday. The Pharisees were upset by this. John's followers are also upset. Keep in mind that their leader has been detained and may already be dead. They are upset that Jesus isn't as upset as they are over John's absence! Their issue is as follows: Jesus violated their regulations! He did not walk in line with their rhythm. These men already knew how good people should live their lives. Jesus was against conforming Himself to their religious mold. He refused to make dead rituals the focus of His ministry and life. (Ill.) There is nothing wrong with people fasting or doing other small religious things. Trouble arises when the rituals become nothing more than lifeless routines. Worship often becomes less about God and more about the ritual. Because the ritual is sufficient for the one who observes it, it can prevent a lost person from trusting in God. It can also prevent a believer from truly connecting with God. Some rituals are fundamentally evil. It is heresy to pray to saints and statues and light candles for the dead! However, if the focus is on the ritual rather than the Lord, even things like reading the Bible, singing, going to church, and praying can degenerate into nothing more than lifeless routines.) II. v. 19-20 JESUS AND HIS RESPONSE A. v. 19 An Explanation – Jesus discusses a wedding in response to their criticism. Weddings back then weren't like they are now. Now, the newlyweds leave for their honeymoon as soon as the wedding is over. Things were different when Jesus lived. In those days, the newlyweds celebrated with their families and friends for a week after the wedding. They would eat lavishly and be treated like royalty for seven days. At best, living in those deserts was difficult. To make it through the day, people worked continuously from dawn to dusk. The newlyweds were lavishly pampered for a week following that wedding. They had the time of their lives, and it was the best week of their lives. Jesus explains to those who are critical of Him that His presence among His people is comparable to that of a bridegroom among his friends. There is no time for sadness, self-denial, or mourning. It is a time of joy and celebration. It would be out of character for the Lord to be sad, to fast, or to do anything else while He was present. This verse has a few lessons for us to learn. The Jews missed the blessed reality in front of them because they were so engrossed in their customs and rituals. They would have stopped their fasting and joined in the feast if they had known who Jesus was! We occasionally do the same thing! We routinely attend church, but we fail to acknowledge the constant presence of God, Hebrews. 13:5; Matt. 28:20; 18:20. Every moment of our lives would be transformed if we could ever learn to recognize His constant presence. We would walk joyfully and put an end to our growling and complaining. Our method of attending church would change. We would arrive seeking Jesus. We would go to church! The Jews' fasting may have impressed those who observed them, but the Lord was not impressed! He was aware of their hearts. He was aware that they were still entangled in their sins and that they were not seeking Him. If we do good deeds in the name of religion and worship without first sincerely seeking the Lord, we are only being hypocritical. Hymnal singing, attending church, preaching, and teaching, among other activities, are all hypocritical if they are not motivated by a sincere desire to worship and praise God! B. v. 20: An Expectation: After setting the record straight, Jesus tells everyone who is listening that the Bridegroom will be taken away one day. In that day, His followers will fast and be sad. The term "a sudden removal" is used in the phrase "shall be taken away." The time when He will be taken away and crucified is what Jesus is referring to. His followers will fast and mourn on that terrible, dark day. His people will experience sadness that day. That day will come, but for the time being, the Lord's disciples were right to be excited and happy when they were in His presence. A broken and sorrowful heart is the source of fasting. However, there is no room for sadness, grief, or sorrow when the Lord is present with His people. The worship of the Lord is to be accompanied by feasting, singing, and shouting whenever He is present! That truth would change the way we worship, if we ever discovered it. We would discard the old, stale practices that do not glorify the Lord and look for ways to express our joy at who He is and what He has done for us! III. v. 21–22 JESUS AND HIS REVELATION (Ill.) Jesus uses two vivid illustrations from everyday life to make His point crystal clear. He wants the Jewish people to know that He did not come to preach a new and improved Judaism. He wants them to understand that He did not come to resurrect their stale religion. He wants them to understand that He has come to destroy the old and create something brand-new. He wants them to know that what He was doing had absolutely nothing to do with their religion, their rituals, or their rules. Jesus wants these people to understand that what He is doing and what they are doing are so different from one another that they cannot be related. He wants them to understand that the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot fit within their religion. Jesus came to establish Christianity, not rehabilitate Judaism.) A. v. 21: The Clothes Illustration: The first illustration that Jesus uses is one that they are all likely to be familiar with. At that time, if a garment became frayed or ripped, it was not thrown away. Every mother was a seamstress, and she would patch clothes to make sure they lasted longer. The majority of us have no qualms about tossing out worn or torn clothing. However, I'm sure that some of you here can recall having to wear clothing with patches on it because your family couldn't afford to buy new clothes. In Jesus' time, this was the situation in nearly every home. The new piece of cloth would shrink the first time it was wet and dried if someone stitched it into a worn-out garment that had been torn. When it did, the older, less durable garment would be torn apart, resulting in a larger hole than before. Both the previous garment and the new patch would be lost. Here, the spiritual principle is crystal clear. It is impossible to combine the old and the new! Christianity, with its emphasis on an internal relationship with God, could not be contained in Judaism with its external rituals and rules. Jesus didn't come to mix the Law's teachings with His own. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and free His people from the tyranny of man-made sacrificial practices and rules. (Note: Some members of the early church attempted to incorporate Christianity into Judaism. The term "Judaizers" was given to these men. They taught that a person could only be saved if they believed in Jesus and also kept the Law. They taught that you needed to be circumcised in addition to believing in the Gospel; follow the rules for eating; keep the Sabbath day; and lead a Jewish life. Acts 15:1 states that they taught that Christianity was an extension of Judaism. Acts 15:19–21 describes how the early church's leaders confronted this issue head-on and gave us precise instructions. The new believers were not required to follow the Law, but they were forbidden from doing things that would offend the Jews who had been saved. Gal., Paul dealt with these people as well and addressed the issue fully and clearly. 5:1-12. The important lesson for today is as follows: The ancient Jewish customs and laws are no longer in effect! To please God or to be saved, we are not required to follow the Law. Jesus has fulfilled all of the Law's requirements, and we should never attempt to combine the Old Law with the New. Jesus frees us from the Law's requirements! Col. Ill. 2:13-17. In the eyes of God, Isa, even the best religious works of the best Jew were nothing more than clothes eaten by moths. 64:6. Jesus came to give lost people a righteousness robe that will allow them to be whole and complete in God's eyes! B. v. 22: The Containers Illustration: The following illustration that Jesus uses would have been understood by everyone who heard Him speak that day as well. Jesus uses wine bottles as an illustration. In those days, there were no bottles made of glass or plastic. The skin of a goat was frequently used as a wine container by ancient people. The skin of a goat was removed from the body in one piece by cutting it around the neck and legs. Sewing and sealing would be used to close the leg openings. Additionally, a spout made from the goat's neck will be used. The hide would be tanned in part. Then, this hide could be utilized as a wineskin or wine bottle. As the inside wine fermented, the hide, which was extremely elastic, would expand. Over time, these wineskins became brittle and dried out. The old wineskin would burst if new wine was poured into an old wineskin and the wine began to ferment. The old wineskin could not expand to accommodate the gases released by the fermenting wine. Both the wineskin and the wine would be lost. As a result, the calamity would be twice as severe. A brand-new wineskin was the only suitable container for new wine. The spiritual principle is apparent once more. The ministry and message of the Lord Jesus Christ could not be contained in Judaism with its rules and rituals. He didn't come to pour the new wine of His Spirit into the hearts of people who were trying to please God by adhering to men's customs and rules. Jesus came to give lost sinners new life. He came to transform our fleshly wineskins into new ones by His power. We are prepared to receive the brand-new wine of His Spirit when He has transformed us through the new birth. The Holy Spirit can only be contained in a person who has been born again and has been saved by grace. (Ill.) In our front yard, we have a few old oaks. In the summer, they are a great shade, but they are annoying. The leaves on those trees do not fall off in the fall. Until spring arrives, the brown, dead leaves will remain on those limbs. The tree's sap rises during the spring. The old leaves are forced to fall off as the new buds emerge from the ends of the branches. The dead material falls away as the tree's new life spreads out! Jesus wants to do exactly that in our lives! As long as they can, the old ways of sin and self will continue. Your aging relative will not be fixed by religion, religious rituals, or male customs; He is only temporarily held down by those things. Jesus breathes new life into you when He enters. The new life that He gives you starts to come out of you. As the Lord transforms the old man into a new creature for the glory of the Lord, what He has done on the inside soon becomes clear on the outside. On the inside, Jesus' new wine will burst the old man's wineskin on the outside. The work of God in the heart cannot be contained by the old flesh! Jesus pushes us to new heights as He fills our lives with wine. Everything in our lives is filled with the inner pressure of His presence, displacing things we no longer require. The old religion and old ways of life must give way to the new life He places within us because this new life is so powerful, dynamic, and different. Let me be clear: Jesus did not come to abolish the Law; rather, He came to fulfill it, Matthew. 5:17. Jesus fulfilled the moral law by strictly adhering to it. Jesus fulfilled every type, symbol, and sacrifice in the ceremonial law in the fullest sense possible. Jesus was the perfect example of justice, so He fulfilled the judicial law to the brim. There is no desire for the previous garment or wineskin when He enters because He is so full. It resembles an acorn. An acorn can be crushed with a rock or a hammer, or you can plant it and let it germinate into an oak. The acorn is destroyed in either case. It vanishes indefinitely if you smash it. It has fulfilled all of its potential if it matures into an oak. Jesus doesn't come into our hearts to bind us to the Law; rather, he comes into our hearts to help us do God's perfect will through the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not slay us in violation of the Law; He helps us achieve God's best in our lives and instills His Law in our hearts. He enters to enable us to serve God with our lives. That couldn't be done by the law! Conc: Jesus didn't come to blend His new way of living and believing with old ways. Jesus came to forgive sins and give new life to those who believe in Him. John 3:3, 7, explains why salvation is referred to as a "new birth." Too many people are attempting to sew Christianity into their current life. It is ineffective! Jesus does not wish to alter your previous lifestyle; He wants to transform you into something new! Too many people want Jesus to replace their previous faith. They want Jesus, but they don't want to change in every way He does. That also won't work! The changes that Jesus brings about are so vast, potent, and explosive that they completely destroy the old and leave only the new. Jesus cannot be combined with your religion. Jesus and your previous way of life cannot coexist. You must turn to Jesus and completely forsake everything else in order to be saved. You will discover that He has the power to transform you into something you could never have imagined if you do this. Do you know how powerful the new birth is? Is God saving you? Have you ever attempted to combine the traditional with the contemporary? Have you been attempting to stitch Christianity onto your life's fabric? It won't work at all! In order to be saved, you must come to Jesus. You may have completed all of the rituals. Your baptism is complete. The Lord's Supper has been taken from you. You now belong to the church. You have done everything, but you have never humbled yourself before God as a lost sinner, confessed your sins, or asked Jesus to enter your heart. You practice religion but do not follow Jesus. You are not a Christian, but you are a Baptist. Change that right now! Right now, come to Jesus.

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