Thesis: We must constantly scrutinize our practices by the will of God.
1. Everyone has something dear enough to them that they would fight for it. It is interesting to observe what that something is.
a. Illust. A friend of mine tells about a woman he knows who accepts with qui et dignity the fact that her husband and children ignore her and take her for granted but would shoot to kill anyone who dares squeeze the tube of toothpaste from the middle! The same friend tells about another couple who would hire anyone, even Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, as a babysitter as long as the price is right, but would spare no expense to get their poodle groomed.
b. If you've ever read much of the Gospels you know that Jesus was constantly having run-ins with the religious leaders of his day.
1) It was because of what each saw as important.
2) Most of these conflicts involved traditional expressions of Jewish piety--what religious people should/shouldn't do.
2. We get a good picture of this from 3 stories preserved for us in Matt. 9.
I. THREE EPISODES OF CONFLICT. < Matt. 9:1-15 >
A. Healing of a paralyzed man (9:1-8).
1. "Get up and walk" (o.k.).
2. "Your sins are forgiven" (not o.k.).
3. Jesus could have simply said "Get up and walk," but chose not to.
B. The calling of Matthew (9:9-13).
1. Avoiding tax collectors & sinners--o.k.
2. Hanging out with TC & sinners & even eating with them--not o.k.
3. Jesus had a choice--chose to hang out with tax collectors & sinners.
C. The question about fasting (9:14-15).
1. Fasting--something all good religious people did!
2. Jesus had a choice to either fast or not to fast--he chose not to.
II. TWO STORIES OF TENSION. < Matt. 9:16-17 >
A. Why? Why did Jesus make those decisions? Didn't he know they would get him in trouble? Didn't he know they went against everything religious people believed in?
1. The reason: It was because of what Jesus saw as important.
2. For Jesus the needs of people take precedence over tradition.
a. The paralyzed man needed healing of soul as well as body.
b. Tax collectors and sinners need saving.
c. Fasting--how appealing is a religion where everybody goes around looking like they had prunes for breakfast?
B. Jesus then tells two parables (16-17).
1. The unshrunk cloth (16).
a. New patch shrinks when washed--old cloth already shrunk.
b. Get a pre-shrunk patch to relieve the pressure.
2. Wine and wineskins (17).
a. Old wineskins become brittle and unpliable with age; when new wine is put in these, gases build up--produce pressure.
b. Put new wine in new, pliable wineskins to relieve pressure.
C. Jesus' Point: "Yes, there's pressure, but if you think I'm going to alter my course simply because of somebody else's expectations of what religious people should/should not do, you're mistaken!"
A. Tradition--why do we do what we do?
1. Illust. A newlywed husband watched his wife preparing a pot roast. As he watched she cut off one end of what looked like a perfectly good roast and threw it away. Asked why. "Because my mother always did it that way!" Man was still confused. He went to his mother-in-law and asked why she always cut the end of the roast off. She said, "Because my mother always did it that way!" Man then went to his wife's grandmother, now old and feeble, and asked her about this strange family practice. The old woman laughed. She said she always cut off the end because they didn't have a pot large enough to hold the whole roast!
2. Do we know why we do what we do?
a. Is it possible to do things and not know why we do them?
b. Are we doing things as a church that may have made sense in 1950 or 1840, but not in 1994?
3. < Two illustrations >
a. Illust. The greatest basketball free-thrower in the history of the NBA was a man named Rick Barry. Had phenomenal accuracy--well over 90%. Won free-throw record year after year in the NBA by throwing the ball "granny-style." Looked weird--even sissy. But it worked! It worked because Rick Barry was less concerned about how something looked than about whether or not it worked.
b. Illust. At the 19th Summer Olympics in Mexico City in 1968 an American named Dick Fosbury set an Olympic record in the High Jump and brought home a gold medal. No one had ever jumped 7'4.25" before! What was so unusual about Fosbury's feat was that he did the high jump backwards. Looked awkward and strange. It was called "The Fosbury Flop." But it worked! It worked because Dick Fosbury was less concerned about how something looked than he was about whether or not it was effective.