Summary: In this sermon we analyze Jesus as the bridegroom and learn what Christianity is.
If you know anything about the life of Jesus, you know that he faced growing opposition throughout his ministry. He encountered increasing criticism during his three-year ministry to the point where his opponents eventually killed him.
Luke revealed in his Gospel the growing criticism of Jesus.
Last time we examined the conversion of Levi. Levi, who became known as Matthew, was a hated tax collector. However, when Jesus called Levi to follow him, Levi was so delighted that he threw a great party for Jesus. But the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at Jesus and his disciples, and criticized them for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners.
After Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and their scribes, Luke indicated that they then asked Jesus a question about fasting. Jesus gave a marvelous answer about the inappropriateness of wedding guests fasting while the bridegroom was with them.
Let’s read about Jesus as the bridegroom in Luke 5:33-39:
33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ ” (Luke 5:33-39)
William Barclay, in his commentary on The Gospel of Luke, said that in Palestine during biblical times when two young people got married they did not go away for a honeymoon. In fact, they stayed at home, and kept an open house for a whole week where all the wedding guests enjoyed a party with them. The newlywed couple dressed in their best. Sometimes they even wore crowns; for that week they were king and queen, and their word was law. The daily routine of life was hard and they would never again have a week like that. And during this festive week the groomsmen were called “the sons of the bride chamber.”
If your Bible has subheadings in the biblical text, it probably says something about fasting before Luke 5:33. For example, the English Standard Version says, “A Question About Fasting,” the New International Version says, “Jesus Questioned About Fasting,” and so on. But in actual fact, the focus of this narrative is not really about fasting. It is about joy in the presence of the bridegroom.
In today’s lesson we learn that Jesus is the bridegroom.
The analysis of Jesus as the bridegroom as set forth in Luke 5:33-39 shows us what Christianity is.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Question (5:33)
2. The Answer (5:34-35)
3. The Parable (5:36-39)
I. The Question (5:33)
First, look at the question.
Luke placed this encounter with Jesus immediately after the Pharisees and their scribes criticized Jesus and his disciples for eating and drinking at Levi’s party (Luke 5:29-32).
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and their scribes. And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink” (5:33). Although this is a statement in Luke’s Gospel, it is put as a question in the parallel passages in Matthew (9:14) and Mark (2:18). But even though it is a statement in Luke’s Gospel, it is clear that a question is being asked.
I plan to teach on fasting next time. So, I am not going to go into a lot of detail now about fasting.
In his commentary on Luke’s Gospel, John MacArthur notes that “though the Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12) on Monday and Thursday, there is only one fast mandated in the Old Testament. On the Day of Atonement, God commanded the people of Israel to humble or afflict their souls (Leviticus 16:29, 31), which is a reference to fasting (cf. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, s.v. ‘Fasting’). The rabbinical writings forbade eating – even as much as a single date – or drinking on the Day of Atonement. On a day set aside for mourning over and repenting from sin, eating was deemed inappropriate. There are non-required fasts mentioned in the Old Testament (e.g., Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; 31:13; 2 Samuel 1:12; 12:16; 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Chronicles 20:3; Ezra 8:21, 23; Nehemiah 1:4; 9:1; Esther 4:1-3; Psalm 69:10; Daniel 9:3; Joel 1:13-14; 2:12, 15), but they were spontaneous, associated with grief, mourning, and humbly seeking God.”