April 1, 1941
Turn to the fifth chapter of Luke, verse 20: “And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, Man thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?... And after these things He went forth and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him, Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house, and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them… And He said unto them, Can ye make the children of the Bridechamber fast while the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them and then shall they fast in those days. And He spake also a parable unto them:… No man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new; for he saith the old is better” (Luke 5:20-39).
I want to call your special attention to verse 35 of this chapter: “The days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days”; and also to verse 37: “No man putteth new wine into old bottles.” In reading the Gospel of Luke it is a help to see how he puts things together for a moral purpose, not as they happen consecutively. What I mean by a moral purpose is that they are not put in their chronological order as in Mark’s Gospel, nor in their dispensational order as in Matthew, but certain events in the Lord’s life are taken out of their chronological order, as they were given, and are put together that He may teach us different lessons in regard to the subjects on which He is speaking.
What we are going to take up tonight is the difference between Christ on earth and Christ in heaven. “The days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” And then He tells of the things that will take place when He reaches the Father’s place on high. Blessing will come to us in Christianity which could not be ours in Judaism. In other words, dividing the subject concisely, it is what the Lord Jesus does here, at the beginning of which we have been reading and what He does subsequently.
First of all, He forgives the sins of the man who had been brought to Him. He had the palsy, and friends carried him. I do not know whether he had any faith at all, but when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” The scribes and Pharisees said, “Who is this that can forgive sins? Who can do this but God alone?” Then He said, “That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, Arise, take up thy bed and walk.” He gives the man two things spoken of in Psalm 103: He forgives his sins, and He heals his bodily sickness. That is what is prophesied of the Messiah that when He came into the world He would dispense forgiveness to Israel and heal their diseases. That is what we call governmental forgiveness. Governmental forgiveness was for the people of Israel while they were under God’s divine government. If they behaved themselves well, blessing would come upon them. If they did not, judgment would overtake them.
Now, our Lord was here, the blessed Messiah, giving His earthly people forgiveness and healing. He said, “Your sins are forgiven,” and, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” He forgives iniquities and heals diseases, of course, if the man had faith in Christ, his forgiveness was more than governmental which means the moral government of God over man in this world, and not eternal government. It does not go beyond time. I mention this because people are sometimes puzzled. They say: “Well, if the man had no faith, how did he get his sins forgiven?” The presence of the Lord here as the Messiah of Israel brought with Him blessing for His people who had got away from God and were suffering under His governmental hand. When they complained He said: “The days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them.” You are reminded of this—“Then shall they fast.”
Why do the disciples keep on feasting? John the Baptist fasted. Why do not you do the same? They cannot fast as long as the Bridegroom is here, because while He is here they are going to dance, sing, and be happy. His presence on earth brings with it real, true happiness. The manifestation of Christ gives a key to what we ourselves shall be, for He is now in heaven, and I want to go there now. My heart is there now. If He were on earth, my heart would be here. Can they fast as long as the Bridegroom is with them? They should have been feasting on that day, because “the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away.”
In this chapter are some striking things. He said to one man: “Thy sins are forgiven.” He said to another, to Levi, or Matthew, “Follow Me,” and Matthew left everything and followed the Lord. That same Matthew made Him a feast in his own house. He does not tell you that in his Gospel, He, leaves it for Luke to tell you, but it is a lovely little touch. Do not tell people what you do. If others want to talk about you, all well and good. It is all right to have blessed happy fellowship, but when we begin to exalt a man to a pinnacle, we are not doing very much good. Levi made Him a great feast in his own house. Yes, but he did not say a word about it in his Gospel, but Luke tells us here.
Therefore, there are three things here in connection with Christ—forgiveness, following and feasting. First, He said to one, “You are forgiven,” to another “Follow,” and then the man that followed Him made Him a great feast.
Then there arose a complaint. They said: “He does not do the right thing. They are all feasting, having a good time, and they do not fast.” Then comes the wonderful verse: “They cannot fast while the Bridegroom is with them, but the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them. Then shall they fast in those days.”
What do you think we shall have when the Bridegroom is taken away? Everything new. Here it is in verse 36: First of all, there is a new suit of clothes. If Christ is glorified, I want to know how He got there. If our Blessed Lord is now in the glory, on God His Father’s throne, how did He get there? There is only one answer to that—by the way of the cross. On that shameful cross He put everything connected with the law away, what I was as a man in the flesh, in my sins, in Adam. On that cross He made atonement. He glorified God in the highest heaven. He put away sins. And because of that wonderful work, everything is new, and the first thing we get is a brand new suit of clothes. I am in it. You cannot put old cloth in new. You cannot mix Christianity and Judaism, law and grace; there is an entirely new thing. But, beloved friends, if I may keep up the figure, that brand new suit of clothes was woven at the cross. Everything was secured at the cross. There He laid the foundation of God’s righteousness in the forgiveness of sin. Now the first thing we get through Christ glorified is a perfect new standing, a perfect new place in Him; no mixture; not old cloth and new; not Mount Sinai and Calvary; not Moses and Christ; not, He will do this and I will do the other. It is an entirely new standing.
I would like to ask you if you have it on you? No man can put a new piece of cloth in old. They do not agree, it says. No, they do not agree. On the Mount of Transfiguration the Lord Jesus was there, Moses was there, and Elijah was there. Peter said: “Let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” God removed the law-giver; God removed the prophet, and there was Jesus only. You must not put old cloth with new.
The fact is, beloved friends, there are very few Christians who understand clear-cut Christianity. I say that advisedly. We so often mix some kind of ritualism, some kind of formality, some kind of routine with it. God says all that is put away. You must not mix old things and new, shadows and substance, Mount Sinai, I repeat, and Calvary. So when those disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration looked, “they saw no man save Jesus only.” He, Himself, did the blessed work upon the cross whereby we get this brand new suit in Him. “We are made the righteousness of God in Him, we stand before God in Him, and I trust everyone in this hall has Christ for his righteousness.
In Him you are complete, in Him you stand, in Him you are perfect. That brand new suit is all woven out, so to speak, by His sufferings on Calvary’s tree. Are you mixing anything? Your feelings, your realizations, your ritualisms, your something or other, mixing it up with the work of Christ? Do you stand alone on this solitary fact; not Moses; not Elijah, and Christ, but Jesus only? “We are made the righteousness of God in Him.” I take that to mean a cloth without a single flaw; not a stitch of Adam’s race, Adam is the guilty man who was turned out of Eden. He never gave us any standing before God. What are you clothed with, dear hearer, as you sit there tonight? Are you “the righteousness of God in Him?” “He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness.” That is the new cloth.
Remember this, “When the Bridegroom is taken away.” If He had been here still, where would we be? If there had been no Calvary, if there had been no shed blood, no atoning work, where would we be? The claims of God’s throne were perfectly met there for me when He died on that shameful tree. Now He is in heaven at God’s right hand and we are in Him. That phrase “in Him” occurs about seventy-two times in the New Testament. That is the new suit. I hope everyone in this hall has it on.
The next thing is in verse 37: “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles, else the new wine will burst the bottles and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new; for he saith, The old is better.”
It is new wine in verse 37. The new cloth is Christ. I am in Him. The new wine is the Holy Ghost and that is in me. That is the new wine in the new bottle. You know, wine in the Old Testament means earthly joy. New wine is joy of the Holy Ghost. They had that on the day of Pentecost. The people said: “These men are full of new wine.” They never said a truer thing. They said it sarcastically, they said it ironically, but it was perfectly true because the new wine was joy in the Holy Ghost. Have you got that, dearly beloved friends? Is that joy in you?
The wine is in the bottle but I am not in the cloth; that is what we call objective and subjective. The objective is what is true of me in Christ, and the subjective is what is true of me in the joy of the Holy Ghost. These two always go together. You cannot have Christ in glory and the Holy Ghost not on earth. He is here, according to the Lord’s word, “If I go not away He will not come to you.” On the day of Pentecost He sent the Holy Ghost, and what overflowing joy they had! Of the Thessalonians we are told that “they received the Word in much affliction, with joy in the Holy Ghost.” They were so full of joy that they did not think of their afflictions.
On the Day of Pentecost those looking on thought the disciples had been drinking to excess, but Peter stood up and said it was only the third hour of the day; these men were not drunk as they supposed, but what they witnessed was the fulfilment of that wonderful promise. There was new wine, new joy through the presence of the Holy Ghost on earth. Very few Christians realize that the Holy Ghost is in us just as much as we are in Christ. We are in Christ, and the Holy Ghost is in us. “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” Those two things are really the foundation of Christianity—a Glorified Man in heaven who did all the work on Calvary’s tree, and when He got there, He sent down the Holy Ghost to be His representative, to bring with Him the love of God into our hearts. “The love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.” I do not ask God to send Him. How can I ask God to send the Holy Ghost? Why, beloved friends, He is here. In John 14 the Father sends Him; in John 15 the Son sends Him; in John 16 He comes Himself. You should read these three chapters about the Spirit of God. He says in one chapter: “Whom the Father will send,” and then, “Whom I will send,” and He is in every believer. That is the new wine in the new bottle. Do you enjoy it?—the joy of the Holy Ghost? We may grieve Him. We often do, but we do not grieve Him away. “Grieve not the Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
So, beloved friends, that is in keeping with our Lord’s words: “The days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast.” He went to the cross and there He accomplished the work of our redemption on the ground of which we receive this wonderful new suit “the righteousness of God in Him,” and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to dwell in us.
We know one day the Bridegroom is coming back, and, if the Lord will, I hope to speak on the coming again of the Lord Jesus to take us to the Father’s house, and then if the Lord will, on when He comes to set up His kingdom.
What we have here is the Bridegroom going away, and I repeat again, in going away He goes by the way of Golgotha, He goes by the way of Calvary; and there does that mighty work on the ground of which we get this brand new suit. There is not a stitch of the Adamic nature in it. It is in Christ, complete. We are “accepted in the Beloved.”
Then, dear friends, the subjective idea is that the Spirit of God is in me, and I joy in the Holy Ghost if I do not grieve Him. I do not grieve Him away, but if I do grieve Him I do not enjoy communion. I do not enjoy the new wine, the joy in the Holy Ghost.
Please look at the first verse of the following chapter, Luke 6 where we get a sentence which has been a stumbling block to those who study Theology, “the second Sabbath after the first.” What I want you to notice, beloved friends, is that we are now on resurrection ground. He has accomplished redemption and given us this new place in Him before God and we have also the Spirit of God in ourselves, and we come to “the second Sabbath after the first.” The reference is evidently to Leviticus 23:9-16. Turn to it and notice the words in verse 9, 15: “On the morrow after the Sabbath.” That is the first day of the week.
Let us come back again now to our chapter in Luke. Remember, the disciples are going through the cornfield. When you get to the cornfield, you are in the land, on the resurrection side. You say, “I wish you would make yourself plain.” Well, I will try to. There are three kinds of food—manna, the passover and the old corn. Manna is Christ come down, the Passover is “Christ our Passover sacrificed for us on the cross,” but the old corn is Christ in glory, the Eternal Son gone back to God, “the old corn of the land.”
In this chapter we are told that it was “the second Sabbath after the first.” When is the first? The first is when the corn is ripe, and then no one must touch it until the second Sabbath after the first. The first the Corn is ripe, but on the one that follows you can put out your hand and take it; but be sure that you take the wave sheaf and wave it before Jehovah on the morrow after the sabbath. It is the risen Christ. He is the Wave Sheaf. 1 Corinthians 15 speaks in plain words of “Christ the first fruits.” First fruits of what? Of the resurrection harvest. “Afterwards those who are Christ’s at His coming.” Leviticus 23 carries us on to the great harvest-time that lies ahead. It points us first of all to Christ’s resurrection. You must not touch a bit of that until you have waved the Risen Christ Himself on the first day of the week. He rose from the dead “the morrow after the Sabbath.” He is the Wave Sheaf in the great Resurrection Harvest, a foretaste of the wonderful day that is coming.
“Christ, the first fruits,” the first day of the week. To me, beloved friends, it is simply marvelous. It says, “on the morrow after the Sabbath” the priest was to wave it. That is your day, Christian. You are not a Seventh-day Adventist. The first day of the week is yours, and there is the risen Christ waved before Jehovah. I mean He stands on the resurrection side under the eye of God, the first fruits of the great resurrection harvest which is yet to come when the Lord comes back. In the meantime there is the Wave Sheaf. Read it, please,—for it is well worth it—in Leviticus 23:10-14.
“On the morrow after the Sabbath.” The Wave Sheaf, I repeat, is Christ risen. As you know, He rose on the first day of the week. He is the Harbinger of the great harvest that lies ahead. He is the First fruits. That is why you must not touch it until the second Sabbath after the first, because it was then they went through the cornfield and plucked the ears of corn. They must not touch it till Jehovah has had His portion. Think of the Blessed God welcoming His Son, the risen One who was raised from the dead, in the glory waved before Jehovah on that triumphant day.
Now while the disciples are passing through the cornfield, they are hungry, they began to pluck the ears of corn. The disciples can have their portion, but not until Jehovah has taken His after the first Sabbath when the corn was ripe. Then on the second Sabbath they began to appropriate it to themselves. I hope, dear friends, you have a keen appetite for the old corn of the land. The old corn of the land is your proper Christian food. Manna is what came down from heaven—the Incarnate Christ. We do not know Him after the flesh, as a man of the flesh. You remember it says, “The manna ceased.” We did not know Christ in that way. What I mean is, that He is not bodily flesh and blood.
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.” There is a glorified Man in Heaven today in a different condition from what He was when He was down here. Down here He had flesh and blood. In resurrection He has not flesh and blood. He said: “A spirit hath not flesh and bone, as ye see Me have.” He is the same Person in a different character. We must go to heaven to feed on Him. “Go to heaven?” you say, “How can you go to heaven?” You can in your mind; “Set your mind on things above.” I hope you have been there today. It is an easy thing, if you will only let the Holy Ghost have His way with you.
“The old corn of the land,” I believe, simply means the Eternal Son of God there in a different condition to what He was when He was here, no longer in flesh and blood, but in a glorified condition. If you are to be stalwart, you must eat the corn. That is your food. It says, “The manna ceased.” You did not know Christ on earth. A new food is introduced after that. Feed on what He is; pluck the ears of corn; appropriate Him in His glorified condition. I would to God we did! I would to God we fed more on Christ glorified, and plucked the ears of corn! We may preach; we may be able to talk and give it out; but how much am I feeding? “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you.” That means, appropriate His death. But, dear friends, He is no longer dead; “He is alive forevermore” at God’s right hand. I must feed on Him where He is.
We are suffering, dear friends, from not eating enough. Some of us eat too much physically and get indigestion, but the appropriation of Christ here is something more. We must feed more, dear friends; masticate more, assimilate more; that is what makes us strong in the Lord. We might turn to Joshua 5 for a moment. “And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes and parched corn in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year” (Joshua 5:10-12).
The fruit of the land of Canaan was the old corn, and our Lord is the old corn, the Eternal Son, now glorified in the highest heaven. If I am going to be spiritually stalwart, I must feed on Him, on Christ where He is. By the Spirit of God Luke has grouped these things together.
Let us now turn back to our chapter, Luke 6: “And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath day? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him?”
How marvelous that He should bring that wonderful picture before them about David and his men eating the shewbread at that time. David was rejected; he was a fugitive; he should have been on the throne, but they would not have him. The rejected king and his followers go to the priest, and then take the shewbread and eat it. You say, “They had no right to eat the shewbread.” They certainly had, because the King is rejected. If King George VI were dethroned tomorrow, the whole constitution of Great Britain would go to pieces, for he is the head of it. And the whole Jewish system has gone to pieces because Christ has been rejected. No one could eat the shewbread but the priests, and the Lord practically said they were all priests. Why have they become priests? Because the King is rejected. Do you not understand that the rejection of Christ has opened up the heavenlies to us so that we can feed on the Heavenly Bread? It is only lawful for the priests, but they are all priests now. They are identified with Him. I am rejected because they rejected Him, and the whole policy of the Jewish system has gone to pieces. Colossians tells us, “He made a show of them openly,” He did away with the Jewish system entirely by the death of the cross and began a new order of things in the resurrection.
Turn to Colossians 2:14 for a moment: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” The whole system of Judaism was wiped out by the death of Christ and a new order began with the resurrection. But His rejection, if you will follow me, please, has made every believer a priest now. You say, “They are priests?” They have the right to the sanctuary because My rejection has dissolved the whole Jewish system. There is a new order of things, which is Christianity, and every Christian is a priest. “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood and made us kings and priests to God and His Father, to Him be glory forever and ever.”
It is magnificent. Don’t you know what they did in the time of David? They could eat the shew-bread because the King was rejected. By His very rejection Christ has made the food of the Sanctuary available to every Christian because we are all priests. Do you understand that, brother? Do you understand that, sister in the Lord? As kings and priests we have a right to enter the Sanctuary. Christ took all the Jewish system away and nailed it to His cross. I am afraid, beloved friends, we are slow in grasping the new order, the basis of which is the cross of Christ and His resurrection.
That is why the first day of the week is ours; not the eighth day, not the seventh day, but the first day, the commencing of the new order of things in the risen Christ. That is not tight-rope-walking (Pardon the expression); that is not mere fancy. No; we want to make a clean break with Judaism and its system of things and get to the other side in connection with the risen Christ. So He says of David: “When he was hungry and they that were with him…he did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them…which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone.” It is lawful now that the King is rejected. The Lord Jesus has been rejected, and through that very rejection of His, every believer in Him has a right to the Sanctuary. Does it mean you, believer? It means all the people of God. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest.” It means that brethren on earth, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling (and I wish we availed ourselves of it), are priests! Oh, for more priestly grace to worship! It takes much more power to worship than to preach. I do not say we should jump up one after another, but I do say we should bring our own quota of adoring worship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I wish I could put it to you as I would like.
Have you not read what David did? He might have said: “I am a fugitive; they have refused me the throne; you have got Saul, you ought to have me. Knowing I am a rejected King you should share my fortunes.” “David and the men that were with him.” The veil is rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and God has come out, and I go in. In for what? To worship.
We are very far behind, beloved brethren. I am not here to scold, but to help you, if I can, to have more liberty and power in worship, and more material for worship. What is the material? Christ Himself. So the Lord said: “Don’t you know what David did when he was hungry. He was a fugitive, rejected. So am I. I am rejected; you are rejected in association with Me.” David and the men that were with him, ate the shewbread, which was not lawful but for the priests alone. But we are all priests. We have a new suit of clothes; new wine; new bottles; new food, the old corn of the land.
Then we have a new practice, and that is what we are coming to last. “The days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them. Then shall they fast.” That is the new practice. That is what fasting is, denying self and unworldliness, but having association with a rejected Christ. “Then shall they fast in those days.” He says: While I am here they are going to have a good time of it, but when I am rejected, cast out, then shall they fast.
More unworldliness is what we need; more enjoyment of the Holiest is what we need.
Now to finish. The Spirit of God puts a striking contrast in connection with the holy surroundings. “There was a man whose right hand was withered.” That is the next thing, a withered hand that cannot partake of the bread, the bread of the Sanctuary. If I have a withered hand, I cannot take it. You know the Lord said: “Stretch forth thy hand.” That is what He is saying to you and me today. The bread of the Sanctuary is there for us to appropriate. Put out your hand. I know it is withered, but I mean you to take it. Appropriate it. Eat Me. “He that eateth Me shall live by Me.”
We are living, beloved, in the days of the rejected Christ, sharing so to speak, His fortunes in that way. The day will come when He will be King over the whole earth, Monarch of the Universe, everyone bowing at His blessed feet. But now He is a rejected Christ. We ought to be unworldly, devoted to Him, appropriating the shewbread of the new Sanctuary, feeding upon it and giving to Him the results of our feeding—worship, praise, adoration, thanksgiving.
You say: “Where does the gospel come in?” You could not help it coming in. Do not think we are separating the Gospel of Testimony from all these blessed things we are brought into as believers. If our hearts are overflowing with Christ, feeding on Him, we shall let others know of the glorious blessings we have been brought into; a new suit, new wine, new bottles, new food.
A man once said to an old negro, “You seem very happy.” When he replied, “I am very happy,” he asked: “What makes you so?” He answered: “You know, I had a suit of rags on me, and the Lord Jesus said, Here is a brand new suit, and, you know, I took the new suit and threw my rags away.”
You do not seem happy tonight in your suit. You are looking on yourself, instead of changing to the new suit He is ready to give to you. This is a little illustration, but God has put us into His Son, covered us with His beauties; with His perfections; but how many cling to their own righteousness, their own rags, their own clothes. He says: “No man puts new wine into old bottles; no man puts new cloth into old.” You get into the suit and the wine gets into you. I do not get into the bottle, but I do get into the clothes. We are in Him, complete, perfect, accepted. He is in us in the power and joy of the Spirit of God. All these things are new—new suit, new wine, new food, the old corn of the land, new priesthood, and last—new character. “Then shall they fast.” You may fast, of course, if you like, and use it for mere physical fasting, but those who did it fasted for the Lord’s sake. I wish I were more like that. From a spiritual standpoint, fasting really means denial of self, not gratifying myself in worldliness, not giving the flesh a regular meal, but saying, “No! No! No!”