Opposition to the gospel can come in many forms—from the obviously evil to the self-righteously proud. While the main antagonists to Jesus’ early ministry were Satan and his demons, Luke records another force of opposition: the religious leaders.
When Jesus called Levi the tax collector to be a disciple, the Jewish religious leaders were upset. Why was Jesus spending time with sinners? But their critique didn’t stop there. They criticized His disciples for not fasting. In Judaism, many Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12). They considered the failure of Jesus’ disciples to fast as a dishonor to God.
Jesus responded to their criticism with a metaphor. He illustrated God’s relationship with His people, using the image of a bridegroom and his wedding guests. His disciples did not fast because He, as the bridegroom, was present. In saying this—for the first time in Luke Jesus was predicting his own death. When the bridegroom would be taken, Jesus said, then His disciples would fast.
To reinforce His point, Jesus told a parable, using two additional pictures (a new patch sewn on an old garment and new wine poured into old wine skins). Jesus' work was transformative. He didn’t come to patch up the old form of Judaism; He came to bring new life entirely.
In another confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees, they disagreed about the Sabbath. Jewish tradition stipulated strict Sabbath rules. By picking grain, rubbing it, and eating it, Jesus’ disciples were breaking those rules. Jesus again responded with Scripture, citing the account of David (vv. 4–5; 1 Samuel 21 and 22). If the Pharisees condemned Jesus, they were criticizing David as well. Ultimately, Jesus explained, this was an issue of authority. Jesus alone had the right to regulate the Sabbath since He was Lord over it.
>> Check your own heart for self-righteousness. It’s easy to add to God’s law with additional requirements of our own. How do we judge others based on these “extra” rules?
Help us examine our hearts, Father, and reveal any hypocrisy or self- righteousness in us. Teach us to better discern what honors or dishonors You. Forgive us for overstepping our authority by condemning others.