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22: Jesus Illustrates the New Covenant versus the Old Covenant

May 14, 2009

Major Text: Luke 5:33-39

Harmony Texts:

Matt 9:14-17               Mark 2:18-22              Luke 5:33-39

Key Verse: Luke 5:30


  1. Actions Questioned                      Luke 5:33
  2. Actions Answered                       Luke 5:34-35
  3. Actions Explained                                    Luke 5:36-39


The setting for this dialogue is believed to still be in or near Capernaum.  John’s disciples [those who were left when John was imprisoned and did not choose to follow Jesus] ask Jesus why He doesn’t required His disciples to fast like John and the Pharisees did.  Jesus answers with the question “How can we fast when we are celebrating?” [paraphrased].

Jesus goes on to illustrate saying one does not sew a new patch on an old garment because they don’t match and no one pours new wine into old wineskins because then the old wineskins will burst.  In addition, He states new wine requires new wineskins and most people prefer the old wine.

Two truths are evident from this dialogue.

  1. That is Grace replaces the Law.
  2. Jesus is the author of the New Covenant.

Fasting in the Old Testament period was done on the Day of Atonement.  The Jews added four other days relating to national disasters after their exile in Babylon.  Fasting was an expression of grief, repentance, and humility.  It was done to seek God’s guidance and help; to gain God’s ear.  Strict Pharisees fasted every Monday and Thursday.  It was/is a worship form.  It is not so much for denial as it is for concentration.

The Pharisees came from the Hasideans who came from the scribes who came from Ezra’s leadership.  The Hasidic Jews today are very orthodox in their practices.  The Pharisee’s purpose was to give a rigorous interpretation of the laws for the common man.  The Sadducees were another group and together with the Pharisees formed a ruling body called the Sanhedrin.  It was a governing body using religious control of the people for political influence with Rome.  In one sense, the Pharisees would be democrats and the Sadducees would be republicans in our political arena.

Jesus is saying one can not mix the old with the new without creating a problem.  Here are some examples:

Old Covenant—————versus the———————New Covenant

Law/works                                                                            Faith

High Priest                                                                             Jesus

Many sacrifices                                                                   Lamb of God-One sacrifice

Circumcision                                                                        Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Following                                                                               Serving

Slavery [should not do]                                                    Freedom [should do]

Working on behalf of self                                                  Working on behalf of others

Temple                                                                                     Body

Nationality of chosen people                                          Family of adopted sons

As Christians, we do not deal with the Old versus the New Covenants.  We are of the New Covenant.  But we have problems with “adding to the New Covenant”.  For instance:

  • The Roman Church authorized a penance payment which brought forth the Reformation.
  • The Charismatics believe in a second more complete filling of the Holy Spirit evidenced by the speaking in tongues.
  • The Spiritualists/Humanists believe Jesus is just one of many ways to heaven.  They don’t believe in hell.


  1. The issue is Purity. The new must be kept separate from the old. Keep the New Covenant pure. Do not add or subtract from it.
  2. Our actions and activities should cause others to question our motives. How loud do our actions speak when we aren’t talking?

    As Christians we must “fast” [work] for the salvation of the world, for justice, for righteousness, for moral issues, for family values, for the poor, for the oppressed, for the underprivileged, for our political leaders…..while at the same time having the attitude of the eternal optimist because we have been given victory over death, victory over sin, victory over wrongdoing, victory over oppression, victory over idolatry, and victory unto life eternal.

  3. As His disciples, we are to be consistently different than other religious groups.
  4. Tradition is a benchmark; not a mandatory worship form. One fasts to worship; not to fulfill a requirement.

    Consider the analogy that “liturgy” is a substitute for “fasting”. It is a great tradition because one sings scripture. But we must be careful that its sameness does not become rote allowing our mind to wander instead of allowing our heart to worship.

  5. Proper worship enables the Lord’s feeding.

The Law doesn’t save.  Grace saves.
Grace doesn’t save unless accompanied with Faith.
Faith doesn’t save unless accompanied with Repentance.
Repentance doesn’t save unless accompanied with Jesus Christ.

The Law————-condemns
The Holy Spirit—————–convicts

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