Summary: Empty stomachs, legalistic worship and stubborn hearts lead to missing Christ’s work in our lives.

“Empty Stomachs, Legalistic Worship,

and Stubborn Hearts”

May 18, 2008

Me: Some stuff really bugs me: poor cell phone etiquette, driving with a blinker on, people writing checks at the grocery store. All this stuff just really bugs me and I have been trying to understand why. Basically what I have come to realize is that they somehow “infringe” on my space. They inconvenience me.

You: What is the stuff that bugs you? What is the stuff that makes up your pet peeves or pushes your buttons? Share those with someone near you right now.

Today we are going to look at three separate times that Jesus pushed the buttons of the religious leaders of his day. We are going to see how they had a set of standards and whenever Jesus did not meet their standard they got upset about it.

These three stories are placed in Mark 2 and 3. Although they occur in the same section of scripture, they were not necessarily chronological in nature. Mark places them together here in order to show the religious confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees.


“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?" 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. "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins." Mark 2:18-22

The Pharisees were bent out of shape because Jesus and his disciples were not fasting like John and his disciples and them. So they make this a spiritual argument. The law did not require people to fast on that particular day. The Pharisees and John’s disciples chose to do that. Because Jesus and his disciples chose not to fast they were criticized.

The outcome of religious activity is comparison and criticism.

Because Jesus did not follow their plan and their design, the Pharisees were mad at him. Jesus was not breaking any law or requirement. He simply was not following the desires of other religious leaders.

Human nature is to attack that which is different than us.

Jesus uses the example of a wedding feast to make the point that fasting was a sign of mourning, but weddings a time of celebration. The presence of Jesus should be about great joy and celebration.

In biblical days, new wine was poured into goat skins that had not held wine before. When the wine fermented, the new skin stretched to contain the gas produced by fermentation. Old wineskins would become hard and brittle. Placing new wine in them would cause them to break as the gas expanded.

Jesus is making the point that new life is dawning. He is bringing in a new age in which the old systems were going to be thrown out and replaced with a new covenant.

Whenever something new comes along, or a different way of doing things, or a different way of thinking, we naturally look for what we can criticize rather than for what God is doing in the process.

Churches are some of the worst offenders. Whenever some other church does something different than we do, or develops a different method, or looks toward a different style, churches get upset ad begin to attack what God is using.

Three aspects of beliefs:

1) Preference (this is simply our personal choices)

2) Opinion (this is what we have a real belief about)

3) Convictions (these are rooted in scripture)

Most conflict in life deals with preference and opinion. However, we act as though they were convictions.

We must constantly guard ourselves against the trap of comparison and criticism.

“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Mark 2:23-28

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