This morning another song called “Goodness”, is ringing through my mind – God is the ONLY One who is truly good. “Search my heart Lord and show me my wicked ways that I may take responsibility and confess” as I am eager to hear my Lord. I see my heart – cloudy streaks in the so-called pure water – cloudy streaks of selfishness – building something to make a name for myself = Babel? Wanting to do things my way = Adam? Forgive me Lord and give me new impetus to deal with this so that my life will indeed, glorify you and not try and shine light on myself
Then God gives me a picture where I can see Goodness. The sky completely dark. Dimly on the horizon a figure on a cross, wracked with pain. I hear clearly in the distance “My God My God why have you forsaken me?” – Suddenly the word GOODNESS is emblazoned across the sky in the brightest light. This is where He showed more than anywhere else His Goodness – Here His goodness comes face to face with our need. There is nothing intrinsically good in ourselves – everything good comes from God and Jesus’ cross is the great means through which we receive it. We must receive it continually through the bread of life which is God’s word.
My reading today is Luke 5:27-39. (Just a reminder. The idea of this blog is that you read this passage and ask Jesus to speak to you through it personally first, then you can listen to what I heard Him say to me. Remember – this is not a commentary). Here we have two more of the 5 stories Luke uses to show Jesus’ demonstrating who He is through His public ministry which began at His prophetic reading in the synagogue, Luke 4:18-19).
The first story is of Matthew’s conversion and the banquet to which he invites all his tax gatherer friends and others to, to share his joy. Two things speak to me: 1.The immediate reaction of a true conversion is to want to spread this amazingly Good news and what better way than through fellowship, like a meal with those you know. 2. A repeated reminder (cf also Luke 5:12) that, to be helped by Jesus, we need first to recognize our need. The biggest stumbling block in our Western, affluent culture is our inability to recognize our need, therefore we see ourselves as “righteous” in other words we see ourselves as OK. So we pass up His help or seek worldly solutions. Jesus has come to help those who perceive their need (the sick).
The next story starts with a reminder of Jesus’ true identity. He is THE Bridegroom. Throughout the OT God has pictured Himself as the “Bridegroom” and where the people turned to other gods He frequently accused them of adultery. At the same time this passage looks forward to the ultimate conclusion and tumultuous consummation of God’s story at the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb”. What a glorious day that day is going to be! Jesus is truly God in human flesh.
But the passage also reminds the reader that Jesus has come to introduce the New Covenant. The real emphasis is that this New Covenant is completely New and should not be polluted by the ideas of the Old Covenant. Does that make the Old Covenant irrelevant? Of course not! We would not be able to understand or appreciate the New C if the whole of the Old C didn’t point forward to the New.
As a new Christian I was involved with the Charismatic Renewal. At that time there was a magazine, published in East London called “New Wineskins”. The proposition was that the “Renewal”, as it was known, was bringing a completely new vision and word for the church, a suggestion that this was the “New Wine”. This whole movement of the Spirit was reviving and shaking the old denominations where this Renewal originated. In retrospect, I do think that it did shake up and cause many people to awaken spiritually, but it wasn’t the true New Wine of this passage.
So what did this whole reading say to me? 1. A continual reminder of the revelation of who Jesus is – “The Bridegroom”, brings waves of delight and anticipation of that great celebration of the “marriage supper of the Lamb”. 2. Following that, there is a continual compulsion to tell, with joy of the real healing that Jesus brings. With a reminder of how the first step in response is recognizing our need. 3. Warning how easy it is for the Old Testament ideas to cloud the wonderful Gospel of the New. So many people are living, by the law, they are missing the real gospel. I am in danger of that every day! At the same time it is precious to reflect on how rich the Old T teaching makes our understanding of the New.
To God be all the glory and majesty of the great Bridegroom
- The Servant, Suffering for you and for me
- Man has Gone Astray and Needs Salvation.
- Fruit, the Sign of a Healthy Vine.
- Where is your treasure?
- Future Grace, Living a Life that gives God All the Glory.
- Are We Living in True Freedom?
- Tongues of Fire Herald the Arrival of the Holy Spirit.
- A Servant to Save the Whole World
- More on Love and Wisdom.