New Hearts

As the lawyer awoke from surgery, he asked, “Why are all the blinds drawn?” The nurse answered, “There’s a fire across the street, and we didn’t want you to think you had died.” I believe that we all have a little lawyer in us and that is why we must learn to resist legalism (Matthew 9:14-17) As Jesus moves about the towns, we see some reoccurring themes in His preaching. Some of John the Baptist’s disciples come to Jesus and ask why His disciples don’t fast like they and the Pharisees do in Matthew 9:14~ (ESV) Pharisees fasted and gave. Listen as they share this in rebuttal. Luke 18:12~I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. (NIV) Understand they encouraged other Jews to fast, give, and even did so during times of disaster. They are not bad people, just misfocused. Their Heartitude, the attitude of their hearts are bound by wrong motives. That is why Christ Jesus says go and learn this. We all must check our Heartitude. What is the attitude of our heart, and how do we check this? By reading God’s word and applying. 

Understand John the Baptist is behind bars, so no doubt his disciples are fasting and praying for his release. The feast at Matthew’s house apparently occurs on one of the usual pharisee fasting days. This is not just some random how come they get to? When asked WHY? Jesus answers in Matthew 9:15~And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. (ESV) Have you ever been to a wedding where people were sitting around weeping? Sure mom cries, but that’s because they are leaving. Those are tears of Joy, well dad may weep over the bill, but no one likes to get stuck with the check.

This means while Jesus is on earth. He is like the presence of the bridegroom at a wedding. Jesus came to prepare a way for His bride. It is a time of celebration because salvation has come near, not fasting or mourning. Isaiah 25:9~It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (ESV) Jesus Christ is the bridegroom! He goes on to explain the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away and we will again await His arrival. So at Christmas, we sing Charles Wesley’s words of Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. That is precisely what Jesus Christ does for us in coming to take away our sins. While He is here His disciples don’t fast, but when He leaves to prepare a place for us, they will. (9:15)

Next, Jesus says in Matthew 9:16~No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. (ESV) This means the Gospel cannot be combined with the old religion of Judaism. Listen to Paul unpack this for us in Romans 7:6~But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (NIV) 

Jesus teaches us with an analogy of wine being placed in wineskins. How many of you have a wineskin? Jesus was saying the old and new just don’t mix. Instead, we’re going to need a new wineskin. Each of us is going to have to grow and be made new. Over and over again on our journey through life and faith. Why? Because none of us will ever arrive on this side of glory. We simply cannot take the new life of Jesus Christ and stuff it into the old way of living. Instead, we must put on the new. 

Ephesians 4:24~Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (NLT) In Jesus’ time, wine wasn’t kept in bottles, but in watertight, tanned goatskins, called wineskins. New, unfermented wine must be put into flexible new skins, so it has room to expand as it ferments. Old skins were not flexible, but often brittle and would burst as the new wine ferments. Jesus said I am bringing change, be flexible. Not to sin, but to living life both under and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders are too rigid and inflexible to accept Jesus and His teachings. Salvation by grace through faith would not fit into their old, stiff, and legalistic system of works. They, like many today, cannot accept Ephesians 2:8~For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (NIV) 

Today, I want us to practice giving what it is we are receiving, grace. This is going to require that we let go of our sense of fair play or the ideal that we are always right. Instead of accounting the wrongs let’s be purveyors of God’s grace. Give up the good parking spot, let them in line in front of you, and share the road with a smile. I bet it will lower your pressure and help you keep a smile on your face.

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