Luke 5:33-39: One Greater Than Fasting is here
Solus Christus, Christ Alone! This was one of the heart cries of the Reformation. It was a statement which spoke about the sufficiency of Christ as a Saviour, that His works alone and not also ours were enough, that His mediation and not that of Mary, the Saints, or the angels was enough. It was a rejection of all Christ-and… ideas. This challenge of Christ alone is still with us today. In light of Post-Modernism which doubts all exclusive truth claims, to insist that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father but through Him is the new blasphemy. To insist that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved but the name of Jesus Christ is the new toxic and antisocial behaviour. There are therefore tendencies to want to dilute Christ by mixing Him with other religions. Ideas like all religions are basically all serving the same God, or that all roads lead to heaven is an attempt to dampen the offence of Christ alone. Pluralism and syncretism are the knee jerk reactions to the bald truth claims of Jesus Christ. Something similar was happening in the gospels in Jesus conflict with the religious leaders. Jesus shows how their works religion can have nothing to do with what He brings. This was early on in their interaction with Him. They knew Him to be a teacher, a miracle worker and someone who did not meet all their expectations; I doubt they were immediately antagonistic and threatened. They were likely looking for points of agreement, thinking about how to add a bit to Jesus to get Him to fit in with them. If Jesus would just do more of what they did, then maybe they could meet half way. Jesus does not bargain. What He has come to bring cannot fit in with their legalistic and works oriented religion.
In Luke 5:33-39 we come to the 3rd conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities. In fact there are 5 conflicts in a row here, and still two more to come on the Sabbath. The conflict was so great that 6:11 sums up the resolution of the leaders, ‘But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.’ Jesus had come to overturn their false religious views and to make the bald claim that their way of serving God could not be reconciled to Him. The conflict is over a question about fasting, but Jesus brings in 3 illustrations which all go to prove that there is an irreconcilable difference between what He teaches and what the Pharisees believe.
As we move through our text today, we will do it under two headings looking firstly at the questions and answers of v33-35; then we will look at the parables and proverbs of v36-39.