Title: Friendship and a love-relationship
Reading: Luke 5:33-39
v.38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Ephesians 4:23-24 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24)
Tired of religion? I remember when I was a small child, around six or seven years old, when I knew I did something wrong, like other children, I did not want my parents to know. So, I hid and did not tell them. One time, I accidentally broke a drinking glass and was afraid to tell my mother. I felt bad, so to punish myself, I took a handful of salt, laid it on the floor of the upper room in our old house, and knelt on it. I prayed and asked God to forgive me. Then growing up, in middle school, I learned I could go to church and confess to a priest. Later on, I learned from the Bible that, Jesus is the Way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6). So, when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I thought I found the right religion! However, the more I read the Bible, and the more I got to know God and His love, I realized, it is not really a religion. It is a relationship and not a religion. Jesus became my BFF, my best friend forever!
The people in Israel when Jesus was still on earth also got confused with tradition and religion. In the story in Luke chapter 5, some people asked Jesus why the disciples of John and the Pharisees fasted and prayed, while His disciples did not. (Luke 5:33). The people in Israel in those times watched and observed religious people. Some followed John and his teachings, perhaps some followed the Pharisees, and others listened and watched Jesus too. Perhaps some people wondered who to follow and emulate. While the Pharisees and scribes were experts in studying and practicing their tradition and law according to Moses, Jesus was introducing new ways of worshipping God. Jesus said, He did not come to change the law, but to change man-made traditions. (See Matthew 5:17-18).
“No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.” (Luke 5:36)
Jesus came to set people free from the burdens of old traditions and old ways of religion. Religion teaches rituals, practices, traditions, and a system of beliefs to come to God. But Jesus was introducing a new way to come to God, through relationship. “And He said to them, ‘Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?’” (v.34)
Jesus was saying that God the Father wants a relationship, not a religion. God wants a relationship with us like the relationship of a bridegroom and his bride – one based on love and intimacy. God desires a friendship between the bridegroom (Christ) and the friends of the bridegroom (us) which means hanging out, celebrating, eating together, and caring for one another. It’s not about following rules and regulations. It’s about a love relationship – grieving together when one is hurting, celebrating successes, talking about anything under the sun, etc.
It’s like our relationship with close friends. For example, I recall with fondness my relationship with friends in seminary and at church. After class or work, we spent time hanging out, just talking, sharing about life, etc. Another example is the relationship I had with friends when I was in the mission field. We worshipped and studied the Word together, shared concerns, and prayed together. After Sunday morning fellowship, we ate meals together, played games, watched movies, and just talked. That’s what Jesus wanted to introduce to the people of Israel and His followers. Jesus wants to be our friend. God and Jesus want relationship with His people and not religion. (v.37-38)
Jesus is giving “new wine” to refresh souls. He is life, sustains life, and wants to connect His people to the Source of life, God the Father. New wine and new life in Jesus are to know Father God, the Giver of life and source of eternal life. New wineskins mean new ways of thinking, a new heart, and a new mindset – to get rid of old ways, old traditions, and old ways of thinking like those exhibited by the Pharisees and other religious people. The religious people cared more about keeping traditions and man-made rules and regulations than about a relationship. Jesus gives new wine – new ways of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.
It’s not about religion, nor denomination; it’s not about following rules and regulations; not a system of beliefs, rituals, and ceremonies, but a love relationship. We can come to Him anytime. He wants us to hang out with Him and talk with Him – not just perform a ritual of prayer. Talking or praying is sharing our concerns and burdens with Him, sharing our joys and triumphs (thanksgiving), sharing anything and everything in our hearts.
We need a fresh revelation of who God is – compassionate, loving, caring, and fun! God wants a love relationship with His children through Jesus. Know the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and Guide. Ask Him questions anytime about anything or share your deepest thoughts with Him. Talk to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Share your sorrows, pain, grief, and fears. Celebrate with God your successes and joys. It’s about friendship and a love relationship. Similar to a bride to her bridegroom, it’s about romance, love, intimacy, friendship, etc.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You desire a love relationship with us and not a religion. Help me, help us to have a new wineskin – a new spirit, a new heart, and new thinking to worship You in spirit and truth.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 NKJV
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4: 23-24 NKJV