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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Jesus and the Party Poopers

Robert Jeffress - Jesus and the Party Poopers

Robert Jeffress - Jesus and the Party Poopers
TOPICS: Reigniting Your Passion For Christ

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. You would think that the perfect Son of God wouldn't be caught wasting his time with sinners, yet in reality Jesus' harshest criticism wasn't targeted at adulterers, drunkards, or idolaters, but at the religious establishment of his day. So, what were the pharisees doing that Jesus found so offensive? It all has to do with some good intentions that went horribly wrong. My message is titled "Jesus and the Party Poopers" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

It's very important that we evaluate any instructions we receive from other people before we act on those instructions. You better make sure you know where your instructions are coming from before you follow through on them. You know, the fact is all of us are getting instructions from other people, aren't we? The problem is many times these instructions are not coming from the Word of God, but they're coming from other people's opinions and prejudices. And many times if you notice Christians equate or even elevate their opinions with the truth of God's word. And they try to make their opinion about certain issues your obligation to follow. Today we call those people legalists, but in Jesus' day they went by another name. Their name was the pharisees.

And when you look through the story of Jesus, Jesus' harshest critics were not the adulterers and the murderers, it was the pharisees. In fact, they were the ones who plotted and finally executed Christ's crucifixion. But it was also the pharisees who were the recipients of Jesus' harshest criticism. He didn't criticize the adulterers and murderers and drunkards. His harshest criticism was for these people who elevated their opinion about the truth of God's word and in the process they turned a relationship with God into nothing but a sterile ritual. Today we're going to look at how Jesus dealt with the pharisees, and as we do we're going to discover how to deal with the legalism that people try to impose on our life as well. If you have your Bibles turn to Luke 5 to see how Jesus dealt with the party poopers of his day. We call them the pharisees.

Now let me just say before we get into the text itself for just a moment, say a word about the pharisees. There's a lot of misunderstanding, we use the term without understanding what it means. The pharisees were a group of people who were not priests. They were not a part of the religious order, they were not priests, they were laymen, dedicated laymen to the Jewish faith. And the word pharisees actually comes from an Aramaic word that means the separated ones. And the goal of the pharisees was to help the Jewish people live distinctive lives from unbelievers in the world. That's a worthy goal, isn't it? Shouldn't God's people be distinctive from unbelievers? Nothing wrong with that. We think of pharisees as villains, they really weren't. They had good intentions but they used the wrong way to do it.

You see, they thought the way you could separate people from the rest of the world, keep people living a godly life was through laws and regulations. They believed that the purpose of Moses' law was to separate believers from unbelievers, and it was, but soon they came to the conclusion that God's word was not enough, the law of Moses was not enough. It was not a fence that was secure enough to keep believers and unbelievers separate, so they constructed a second fence, a fence within the fence of the mosaic law filled with hundreds of rules and regulations that they just made up. And here was their error. They were operating under the error and the mistaken thinking that rules could make a person right. That rules made a person holy. If you gave a person enough rules, they would do the right thing. As Paul said over and over again in the book of Romans, like Romans 7, he said, "The law or regulations don't make a person holy. If anything, they just stir up his desire to be more disobedient".

There is nothing about laws and rules that will make you a good person. The law is powerless to change us. You see, the law doesn't deal with the real problem, and that's an inward heart problem that we all have. Did you know in the 1930s German pastors largely were very supportive of Adolf Hitler? And you know why they supported Adolf Hitler? Because externally he was a good person. Adolf Hitler didn't smoke, he didn't drink, he was opposed to pornography, and he preached that women ought to dress modestly. And so the pastors got before and behind him. "He's a great guy". Yeah, he kept the external rules but he had an evil heart, that was the problem with Adolf Hitler, and no rules and regulations could ever change that.

That was the problem with the pharisees. They concentrated on laws and regulations. Jesus said this about them in Matthew 15:7-9. He said to the pharisees, "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, this people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men". Would you notice the twofold indictment Jesus made against the pharisees? Number one, they centered on the externals, people who went through the motions of religion without really praising God. And secondly, they equated their tradition with the Word of God, teaching as doctrines the precepts, the opinions of men.

Now with that background we're going to look today at how Jesus dealt with the pharisees. Now let's look and see how Jesus deals with them again, beginning in Luke 5, beginning in verse 27, the call of Matthew as a disciple. Look at his invitation in Matthew 27. "And after that," after what? Well, after the healing of the paralytic. "Jesus went out and noticed a tax gathered named Levi". His name also was Matthew. "Sitting in the tax office, and he said to Levi, 'follow me'". Now let me explain something about the taxation system that will help you understand why this was such a miraculous thing. The Romans ruled the world, right? And because they had a gigantic government, they had to have a lot of tax money to fuel their government. Sound familiar to you? They had to tax the people.

And so, when they were occupying a land like Israel, many times they would enlist local people to collect taxes on behalf of the Roman government. For example, let's say the tax was 10%. The Roman government declared 10% was the taxation rate. Well, a local tax gatherer could actually charge 20%, send 10% to Rome and keep 10% to himself. But that was the tax gatherer, and that's why they were so hated by the Jewish people. They were seen as traitors to their own people, fellow Jews collecting taxes, but also because they cheated the people as well. Well, it was this tax gatherer, Matthew, that Jesus said, "Forget the tax gathering business, I want you to follow me". And the Bible says Levi immediately left everything and he followed Jesus.

Now look at verse 29. Levi was ready to throw a party. He wanted to celebrate his retirement from the tax business and his call to follow Jesus. He also wanted his friends to meet Jesus as well. So what did he do? Look at verse 29. "And Levi gave a big reception for him in his house, and there was a great crowd of tax gatherers and other people who were reclining at the table with him". Now think about it. Here's Levi, a brand new Christian. He wants to throw a party and introduce his friends to Jesus. Now who do you think is going to be on his invitation list? The only people that Matthew knows are other non-Christians and other tax gatherers. So he invites them to come to the party to meet Jesus. Well, the pharisees, they couldn't handle that. Look at verse 30. Remember, their goal was to separate themselves from unbelievers. You don't want to be around unbelievers. You might get contaminated, verse 30. "And so the pharisees and the scribes began grumbling at Jesus' disciples, saying, 'why do you eat and drink with the tax gatherers and the sinners'"?

Disciples, if this guy you're following, Jesus, is such a holy man, why in the world would he hang around tax gatherers? He must really be a sinner at heart, because you can't like sinners and hang around them if you're not a sinner yourself. Why would he hang around with sinners? And notice how Jesus answered in verse 31: and Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick". I mean his calling is not to be around the well, but to be around those who are sick. That's what Jesus was saying. And in case they missed that point, look at verse 32. Jesus said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance". I didn't come for righteous people, I came for the unrighteous people to call them the sinners.

Now here's the catch. The fact is we're all sinners, we're all unrighteous, we all need God's forgiveness. The difference was the people Jesus hung around understood that, the pharisees didn't understand their sin. You see, if you're going to experience physical healing, you have to first of all admit that you're sick. You'll never find healing until first of all you admit you need healing. And in the same way, you'll never experience spiritual healing, forgiveness, unless you first admit that you're spiritually sick, a sinner, and need healing. That was the difference between the pharisees and the rest of the people. The pharisees didn't understand that they were just as unrighteous as anyone else. That just pff went over their head. They didn't get that at all.

So in verse 33 they launch a second attack against Jesus, and they said to him, "The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the pharisees also do the same, but yours eat and drink". They said, "Jesus, we just don't understand this. You don't obey our rules and regulations. Why, we believe in fasting. We teach people you're to fast, abstain from food Mondays and Thursdays. And even the disciples of John did the same, but your disciples are always partying and having a good time. Don't you know religion is a sober affair and you're not supposed to have a good time with religion? We don't understand this. Why don't you obey our rules and regulations? It just doesn't make sense".

Well, Jesus answers them with three illustrations. First of all, the illustration of a wedding. Look at verse 34. And Jesus said to them, "You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you"? A Jewish wedding was not just a one-night affair, it was seven days of nonstop partying. Those of us who are dads and have paid for a wedding, it's hard enough to do one day. But pay for the whole week of celebration, that really is an unthinkable thing, but that's exactly what the Jews did. They celebrated weddings an entire week and it was one great party, eating and drinking.

Remember Jesus, his first miracle, turning the water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. And Jesus said, "My relationship with my followers is like a groom and a bride". That's the picture of the church. The church is the bride of Christ, Jesus is the groom, and as long as they're together it ought to be a party. Jesus said now if the groom were tragically killed, then the party would turn into a mourning ceremony, a time for fasting. In fact, he made this prophesy in verse 35, he said, "But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them and they will fast". And those days, he was prophesying about his upcoming death. There was going to be a time when the bridegroom would be taken away. That Greek word taken away means to be violently taken away. It was a foreshadowing of the crucifixion. When that happens, maybe you'll want to mourn and fast. But until that time, it only makes sense that you'll want to celebrate.

He gave a second illustration of how the pharisees' regulations just don't line up with Jesus' teaching, you can't mix the two. Jesus' teaching on grace doesn't match with legalism. So he uses the illustration of a garment, look at verse 36: and he was also telling them a parable. "No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on a old garment, otherwise he would both tear the new and the piece from the new will not match the old".

If you want to go, Ryan and I went down to eat at El Fenix. And when we were leaving the restaurant it just started pouring down rain. I didn't have an umbrella with me. And so I launched into a mad dash across the parking lot, I ran as hard as I could not noticing the curb in front of me, tripped over the curb, fell flat on my face, and as soon as Ryan could stop laughing he said, "Could I help you, pastor"? Anyway, I stood up and I had ripped my suit pants leg. I mean, it was a big rip in there. And so what did I do? Did I go home and say now let me find another black suit here and I'll rip a piece off the pants of this new suit and try to patch my old suit with it? Well that'd be a pretty foolish thing to do, wouldn't it? I'd first of all ruin the new suit and at the same time I would have pants that didn't match anyway. That's exactly what Jesus is saying here. You can't match the Old Testament system of rules and regulations and the add-ons by the pharisees, it doesn't fit with Jesus' new message. The two don't match one another.

And in case they didn't get the point, he uses a third illustration. The illustration of the wineskins. Look at verses 37 and 38. "And no one puts new wine into wineskins, otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out and the skins will be ruined. But the new wine must be put into fresh wineskins". Now wineskins, those were the containers made out of animal skins that people carried wine around in, the wineskin. Now when the wineskin was new there was a lot of elasticity in that wineskin. But the older it got, the more brittle that wineskin would become. Now you would not take an old brittle wineskin and pour new wine into it, why? Because that new wine, freshly fermented, would have these gases that would start to expand and expand, and inside that old brittle wineskin would finally burst the brittle wineskin and you'd lose the wine. You don't put the new into the old. And it's the same way with Christ's new message of grace not fitting into the old message of laws and regulation.

Now remember this. The law, the mosaic law, had three parts to it, and I want you to write these down. There were three parts of the mosaic law. There was the moral law. That dealt with morality. Do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not lie. There was the moral law. Secondly, there was the civil law. Remember, Israel was a theocracy. God was the head of the government. The civil law dealt with how you were to punish those who in society break the law, the civil law. Thirdly, there was the ceremonial law that had to do with the sacrificial system and the feasts. The Old Testament had all three of those portions to it.

Now, under the New Testament, the new agreement, the new covenant with God, the Old Testament has been done away with. What part of the Old Testament has been done away with? Well, first of all, the ceremonial laws have been done away with. We don't offer sacrifices, do we? There's no need to, Jesus is our sacrifice. Secondly, we don't live under the civil law. America is not Israel, okay? We are not a theocracy. We don't obey the civil law. That was for Israel at a particular time. We don't stone adulterers. We don't stone gay people. We just don't do that. The only other portion of God's law is the moral law. Don't commit adultery, don't lie, don't steal. And the only part of the moral law we keep is that part that is repeated in the New Testament. All of these things that are repeated in the New Testament are commands that we live under. But we don't keep anything else that was in the Old Testament.

Does that help you understand what the difference between the Old and the New Testament is? We live under the new agreement. And let me just say this again. Under the new agreement there is absolutely, absolutely no allowance for violence against anyone. There is no way to justify anything like that under the teaching of Jesus Christ, and we need to be clear about that. That's the difference between the old and the New Testament.

Now, what are the applications of all of this for us today? Let me give you three principles to live by that come from this. First of all, evaluate all advice you receive by the Word of God. Yes, Proverbs says we should listen to other people's counsel, but before we follow other people's instructions, we ought to ask, is this what the Bible teaches, or is it just that person's opinion? Second principle, tolerate differences in other Christians. Tolerate differences in other Christians. Even if it the Word of God doesn't say you can or can't do something, you need to follow what your conscience says. Because God may lead you in a different way than he leads another Christian. Just because other Christians may have the freedom to do something, God may say, "You know what? I know you, I made you, this would be too much of a temptation to you that might lead to something else".

Somebody has said that conscience is that internal warning system that God puts in each one of us that keeps us out of places we should not be. Romans 14:13 says, "Let us not judge one another anymore". He's not talking about judging behavior the Bible talks about. He's talking about those gray areas that the Bible doesn't speak about. Tolerate differences in other Christians. Third principle, associate with unbelievers. Associate with unbelievers. Do you realize Christ has left you and me here for one purpose, and that is to influence non-Christians to become Christians so they can experience eternal life.

But so many Christians have this bunker mentality, oh I can't be around a non-Christian because I might get contaminated or I might become like them. No, God has called us not to isolate ourselves from non-Christians but to influence non-Christians. That doesn't mean we date them, teenagers. It doesn't mean we marry them. It doesn't mean we go into business with them. But we are to try to influence them, and you'll never influence somebody you're not a friend with, people you don't hang around. We need to take our cue from Jesus. You know what the title Jesus went by? Jesus, what he was known of and known as. The friend of sinners. He was the friend of sinners.

See, Jesus didn't hate sinners. He loved sinners. And rejoiced when they came into right relationship with himself. You know what the pharisee sees their attitude toward sinners? They hated sinners and they would just assume they'd spend eternity in hell. They wanted to live separate from sinners. The pharisees hated sinners, not God. God loves sinners and he rejoices when they come to salvation. Now make no mistake about it, Jesus hated sin, and he spoke out against it continually. He hated sin because he saw the way it destroyed people's lives. Jesus hated sin, but he loved sinners. And he worked with them, he prayed for them, he loved on them, and rejoiced when they came to faith in him. And so should we.
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