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Sunday English Service - 04 DEC 16 - Material Prosperity : Good or Evil?


Let's go to the gospel of Luke again where we have been looking at the subject of material prosperity. We began with Genesis 1 because that is where God sets forth a paradigm for human life; where God creates everything in abundance - material affluence in abundance, and then makes man. All these things are made for man, therefore God creates them first and then finally makes man. And then the bible comments on it and says, "God saw that it was good" (very good, actually). So God sees material abundance and man living in material abundance as something that is very good. He didn't see poverty as very good, He didn't see lack and want and insufficiency as very good, even though some people claim that it is very good - some religious teachings claim that it is very good. But God who made us shows very clearly that it is not good. This is very good - abundance of everything, nothing lacking, nothing missing - man living right in the middle of it, is what is very good. That is a paradigm - that is why chapter 1 and 2 is very important - because that sets the paradigm for human life. And then when the Israelites became slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years, God comes and delivers them and brings them out. And when He brings them out He tells them that He is going to take them to a land - a vast and a good land (as it is described as) - flowing with milk and honey. Why? Because He has got the paradigm in mind, originally that's the kind of life that God gave to man, now when He redeems man from his slavery and from his trouble, He brings him back to that condition of affluence, because that's His will. He has no other plan, only affluence is His plan.

And we saw all those things, and I also explained some difficult scriptures in Old Testament where some prophets seem to condemn prosperity. I showed you why they condemned prosperity in prophetic scriptures in the Old Testament. It's because these people came into the Promised Land experiencing all God's blessings; they are sleeping in good cots, lounging in good sofas, living the good life, but forgotten God - forgot the weightier matters of justices, and kindness and good heartedness, forgotten to follow the law of God - the economic laws of God, where you forgive the debt of your brother, where you do not lend to your own brother and take interests from him, and so on. Those kinds of laws were established by God for their economic wellbeing. They disregarded all that, became very unkind, and became very greedy, so that they loot one another, and enrich themselves - many people enriching themselves by looting the others, and it is to those rich that the prophetic condemnation is spoken in the Old Testament. You should not take that and say that that's the condemnation of everything, everybody that is sleeping on a bed. I say this because that is how it has been interpreted in the past, you know preachers criticized the bed that we slept on, and the sofas that we lounged on, based on this verses - conveniently these verses comes in handand we read that - and say, you know... I remember they used to say "aisvariyavaaneyunakkuaiyo -Woe unto you who are rich" We loved saying that. And because it is in the bible it is very convenient - we even say it is in the bible, the bible says so. But they bible is not condemning the rich; God only led them into the Promised Land, He only gave them land flowing with milk and honey. He only gave them the idea. He brought them in there, then why would He condemn riches if He gave it. In the beginning God only established the Garden of Eden. He made it as a wealthy place. In the Psalms it actually talks about the people of Israel being brought to the Promised Land. He says, "You brought us to a wealthy place". Why would He bring them to a wealthy place and then condemn them for being in a wealthy place, and living a wealthy life? The condemnation is not of the wealth, the condemnation has to do with the way they lived with that wealth. In the beginning when God saw wealth and man in the middle of it, He said, "It is very good". But now the same God sees the people of Israel and sees wealth, the Promised Land (the land flowing with milk and honey) and His covenant people coming and living there, but they have forgotten God's Word/God's Laws. They do not honour God, they go after other gods and they do all kinds of things. And He cannot actually look at them and truly say, "This is very good. God is saying, "This is very bad. This is very evil". And that is what He condemns. So you should not paint everything with the same brush, you cannot just dismiss wealth as something evil just because you read some passages like that, you got to "discern and rightly divide the word of truth", Paul says. You got to correctly understand what the word of God is trying to say.

So when you come to the New Testament there is even more confusion with some scriptures - and in the New Testament the gospel according to Luke is probably the most important - in the whole bible, gospel according to Luke has more about economics than any other book; second book is Deuteronomy maybe. The gospel of Luke has a lot of narratives about rich, poor, wealth and so on. And you see two things there side by side: One is Jesus saying, "If any man wants to follow me, let him go sell everything, give everything to the poor and then come and follow me. If a man cannot do that, He cannot follow me", He says. But then on the other, you see there are wealthy people following Jesus. They did not leave everything. And they are following Jesus - they are followers of Jesus - the women that came and ministered to Him with their health, men like Joseph of Arimathea, mother-in-law of Peterwho had a house and servants and all that - obviously she is quite well to do. The family that consisted of Lazarus, Martha and Mary - that family where Jesus often went with His disciples and they were shown such hospitality there; they seem to be quite well to do people - all these people didn't seem to have left everything. They seemed to have followed Jesus - they were true followers of Jesus, but they did not leave anything; they did not sell it, they did not give it to the poor. So on one hand Jesus say, "You must give to the poor, you must then can and follow me". If you don't do this you cannot follow me. On the other hand, you see things like this. Then this causes a lot of confusion. In Luke for example, there is passages like, "Foxes have holes, birds have nests. The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head". And some people love that, and have caught on to that, "Son of man has nowhere to lay His head, then who am I? I shouldn't use even a pillow". So they have made vows not to use a pillow because the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head. And all kinds of craziness goes on based on that verse - because Jesus said it. Did Jesus say it? Yes. But people do misunderstand it.And I have told you - explained the meaning to you.

There is exact opposite kind of scriptures: and we are going to look at that today. We looked at the pictures that depict Jesus as poor, and the disciples as poor, and I explained it to you, and how to interpret those things, and it is not saying that they were poor, and I showed you how to look at those scriptures that are often misinterpreted. But today we are going to look at the other side, where Jesus is depicted as exactly the opposite of being poor. There are four scriptures I want to deal with, but I do not want to read them now - I just want to cite them now and then go back to it and after I talked about how to interpret them, we got to go back and read that, because then we will be able to interpret it fully. The one passage is where they looked at Jesus, and said this. They said, "He is a glutton and drunkard, friend of sinners (that's the name He got)". Because they saw that this preacher was a different kind of person - He was always in celebration mood - He was always partying-looks like, He was always in somebody house, sitting around a table, eating with others, talking with others - seemed to have a good time. They have not seen a preacher like that. So they actually said like this: "John the Baptist came, him and his disciples are always fasting. The Pharisees' disciples they are all fasting. Why are Your disciples always eating?" Not only Him, His disciples also were dragged into it- they were always eating also, they are always partying - such verses. One is the verse that says, "He is a glutton and a drunkard", the other verse is where they come and ask Him, the disciples of John the Baptist fast, the Pharisees disciples always fast, Why are your disciples eating and drinking? They could not understand this eating and drinking business. This drinking and eating come often in Luke - Why are they eating and drinking? That's unspiritual - you shouldn't be eating and drinking. Now you got to understand what eating and drinking means.

The third passage is the passage that you find in John chapter 2 (familiar to all of us) turning water into wine. In Cana Galilee, in that wedding that Jesus attended. They run short of wine, and in those days in a Jewish wedding, if you run short of wine that can be a lot of trouble. It's like running short of biriyani in our wedding. It's an important item - you can't face the people. So Jesus goes in there and helps them - He does not want thatcelebration to come to an end. He does not want that celebration to suffer in any way, and He wants to preserve that precious moment of celebration and the delight of the friends that are gathered there. So He goes in there and turns water into wine. And the way He does it is amazing; He tells them to fill the jars that are there for washing the feet (when you went into a house, back in those days you washed/cleaned your feet by pouring water on it). For that they kept jars of water (and these jars they say held 30 gallons of water -because they had to pour mugs of water) and Jesus said fill these gallons - 6 of them were there, so 30 gallons times 6 jars means 180 gallons - ifyou know anything about gallons - that's a lot of gallons you know). He should have asked for the pot where they had the wine, and filled that and given to them, but instead He fills the foot washing jars, and turns them into wine, and tells them to serve, and they found that this was the best wine - the quality is super and quantity is abundant, and this is the first miracle that He did. And a lot of people cannot understand why He did such a miracle. What was He trying to show there? It was a significant miracle - and because it's a first miracle, and what was He trying to show there? John actually writing about it, actually says, He did this first miracle, and manifested His glory. He did it to show something - manifest means to "show". He manifested something there. And what was He was trying to manifest? We thought this Jesus was a poor Jesus. We thought He has no place to lay His head. And here He makes jars and jars of wine, and supplies it to people. They cannot just understand the two contrasts, the two extremes of having nothing and having everything; being poor and being all able, all wealthy and so on. These two things they are not able to understand.

And fourthly, we are going to come to the story of that woman who comes and pours the precious costly ointment on Him. That story comes in Mark chapter 14. Now that episode is a very provocative episode because you will find that right after that you get Judas becomes so upset because of the behavior of Jesus allowing that woman to waste one year's worth of money spent on ointments is wasted on Him. Instead of selling it and giving it to the poor, Jesus allows her to do it, and even says that she is doing some good work, - and even says that the poor they will have always with them, but He is not going to be there forever, and whatever she is doing right now will be spoken wherever the gospel is preached - that's too much. Judas got so upset. The bible says, (in the very next verse) he got up and went to the authorities and betrayed Jesus, because he was so upset that Jesus would behave like that; He would allow that woman to pour an ointment that costs one year's wages and waste it like that. What kind of a man of God is this? What kind of a preacher is He? What kind of moral theology He believes in? He is not the right person - He must be the evil wrong false prophet. So he wanted to go and hand Him over and deliver Him to the authorities for Him to be killed. That provoked him so much, because he could not digest it; he could not understand it.

Now how are we to interpret these things? How can both things be there in one book/one gospel - the gospel of Luke? How can both pictures be there? How can at one time He say, "Sell everything and come and follow me" and at the same time in the same book you will find some people that never left everything, and are allowed to follow Him, and they receive eternal life and all that. I will show you that - how they did that. How is that possible? How do we understand that? Once again we go back on how to interpret these things. Now last week I showed you a little bit, that the gospel according to Luke is written to show that Jesus is a prophet like unto Moses. Remember, Moses in Deuteronomy promises the people that God will raise up a prophet like himself. He tells them, "God will raise a prophet like unto myself and you listen to him". One day there is going to be a prophet just like me. What does he mean? He brought them out of the slavery of Egypt and he is leading them into the Promised Land. This is only in the bible what is called "Typology". Moses is serving as a type of the greater savior who is going to come and literally lead them out of bondage to sin and Satan into salvation and all of the blessing of Abraham into reality. Moses is only a type of that; Moses is only a fore-shadow or a picture of that. So he says, "I am Moses I am doing my job. Somebody is going to come, just like me - you listen to him because he is more important than me. You listen to his words, he is going to do exactly to what I did, even more real. All that is happening now is one thing but what he is going to do is the thing that you need to understand", he says. Now, there are people that write on the gospel of Luke - that say that the gospel of Luke must be read with that idea in mind.

People say why four gospels? Because in the first three gospels basically the same stories come again and again (many stories you will find in all three gospels), some of them you will find in two gospels, why write the same material again and again? Why four gospels? The reason for the four gospels is that every gospel is written with a different purpose, therefore they use a different kind of emphasis, words, presentation is different, and the literary style is different because they are trying to say that there is a message behind the gospel. That is why the four gospels have four different message. That is why four gospels are important. Otherwise one gospel is enough - it's basically the same. Four of them have different kinds of message. The message that Luke has is a particular message, in that they say he is presenting Jesus like a prophet, like the prophet Moses; he is another Moses, he is our Moses; that's the way Luke wants to present it. Luke is the one that wrote Acts of the Apostles also and he says there in the first couples of chapters. Peter preaches and he says, "Moses told us that God will send a prophet like unto him, and that we must listen to him; that is this prophet - that is this Jesus, that has come and died and risen again now. So the story is continued - he wrote the gospel and then I think he continues the same trend back there in the book of Acts also. Now, so think of it like this: he sees Jesus as a prophet.

And what does a prophet do? Before we get into that, turn to Luke chapter 9 - which is just about the middle of the gospel according to Luke - he puts a very important story there; the story of the Transfiguration; deliberately to show that there is a likeness between Moses and Jesus; there is a similarity between Moses and Jesus; deliberately to impress upon the readers - to help the readers to understand and see that this Jesus he is talking about, and that he is presenting through his gospel is another Moses. So he puts the story deliberately there in Luke chapter 9. Let me read to you from verse 28, "Now it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, that he took Peter, John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As he was prayed, the appearance of his face was altered, and his robe became white and glistening" (that means it was shining). They say as soon as the Jewish people read this they would immediately understand this as another Moses because they remember Moses going up to Mt. Sinai and his face shone because he was in the Presence of God, when he came down they could not even look up and see his face, they had to cover their face because they couldn't look at him because his face was shining; so they said they would think like that. And he is deliberately doing this - he is putting the story right in the centre so that it would be thing that will guide them in understanding the rest of the whole book. So like Moses Jesus is upon a mountain; like Moses he became white and glistening/his robe became glistening and he was shining. And behold two men talked with me (verse 30), who are Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his decease, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem; spoke about the Cross and all that was going to happening to him - with Jesus. Just imagine: Jesus standing on a mountain, his robe is white and glistening, and two men, Moses and Elijah, coming and talking to him, doing some consultation about what is going to happen in Jerusalem. Jesus is now going to go to Jerusalem and they are getting him ready. They are talking to him about the things that are going to transpire there by the way of crucifixion and so on. Verse 32: "But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep, and when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.Then it happened as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tabernacles-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah, not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them." (This is a third similarity: mountain, white glistening, shining) And then a cloud came and descended upon them/overshadowed them, and they were fearful as they entered the cloud (same thing that happened in the Mt. Sinai for Moses) And then a voice came out of the cloud saying, "This is My Beloved Son, hear him". That's the exactly thing that happened to Moses also, when he went up to Mt. Sinai, a voice came. When you read the bible, you must always first of all think about the original readers, and how they would have taught about it, because you are writing to them. And then only you must think about how we should think about - that is when you will understand it properly; because he has got the original readers in mind and he is writing, and how would they have thought about it. They say: "My God, this is another Moses. Moses indeed did say that God is going to send us another prophet just like him, and that we are to take care and listen to His Words and do what he says. So Jesus is another Moses, and that is big in the eyes of the Jewish people. Jewish people thought of Moses as next to God. He was a great figure; he is the one who brought them out of Egypt, and he has done so many great and mighty things, and Moses is not just an ordinary person. People like Abraham and Moses are big in the eyes of the Jewish people. And now they are thinking, "Wow, this Jesus we thought he is just a man from Nazareth preaching around doing things, you know; he is another Moses. So many questions and doubts are about him. So many people say so many things about him, but he is another Moses.

According to what Luke is saying, he is another Moses; in fact he is greater than Moses, he is the one that Moses spoke about. Now after this they come down, and that's when the journey to Jerusalem begins. Now, it's very similar to the journey that Moses undertook, from the slavery of Egypt leading them all the way to the borders of the Promised Land. And then there he dies and then they enter into the Promised Land. Jesus also leaves His disciples, and all those who believed in Him and followed Him, all the way to Jerusalem, and there He dies and then they enter into their salvation and the inheritance of all the blessings of Abraham, and then the story continues in the book of Acts actually Luke begins saying, "I already wrote to you in my gospel these things, but now I continue the story", he says. After Pentecost, the story continues - where they go in and possess their land/inherit their promises and possess all the blessings of God which are in Christ Jesus. Now that's the way to look at it, they say. Now, what is the goal of Moses? The goal of Moses is to take them into the Promised Land. He says that God told that He has come down, hearing the cry of the people of Israel to deliver them and then to take them to a land flowing with milk and honey. So the goal of Moses is to teach the people (in the book of Deuteronomy, particularly) to believe God and not to be like the previous generation that failed to enter the Promised Land, but believed God, and enter into the Promised Land and inherit all the promises of God, the blessings of the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And in the book of Deuteronomy (I even say from the book of exodus to Deuteronomy, but particularly in Deuteronomy) Do you know howbig idea of eating and drinking is? The idea of eating and drinking is very big there, you would be surprised. In Deuteronomy chapter 8, (we already dealt with, but let's look at it once again). Look at the description of the land;it's all about eating and drinking description. It is described in terms of eating and drinking, that's the main item there. (Look at that)Deuteronomy Chapter 8 Verse 7: "For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land-a land of brooks of waterfountains and streams, that follows from valleys and hills;a land of wheat and barley,of vines and fig trees, pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; (look at that: it's all fruits and oil and this and that) a land in which you will eat bread andno scarcityin which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. (Out of those hills you can dig copper). "When you are eaten and are full". Now you will understand why Jesus was behaving like that. Why?It's because He is another Moses. He has not come to teach poverty, He has not come to lead people into poverty. He has come to lead people into the Promised Land. The real Promised Land, into Christ, into all the blessings that God has ordained from before the world began - the author of Hebrews says. He has come to bring prosperity, He has come to bring total wellbeing; materially, spiritually and in very way. This will clear up yourmisunderstanding about Jesus forever. He has not come to teach poverty; He is come to teach wellbeing totally. So He says, "O this land that you are going to, the land of brooks of water, fountains and springs, flows out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley,vines and fig trees, pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey, land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are full, you shall bless the Lord Your Godfor the good land which He has given to you." Now, I have read only one verse here/one passage here; but you know this idea comes again and gain. When the first fruit of their crop comes in the Promised Land, Moses telling them:"When you go there and sow, and when your land begins to yield by the blessings of God, you bring first fruits, and you rejoice before God".

And there are three feasts that the bible talks about; and the three feasts are about eating and drinking. God wants the people to come together, and eat and drink, and rejoice. People say, "What kind of God is this God?" (Now, you must understand they were in poverty) - they were having half stomach full in Egypt, they had nothing there; they were suffering in poverty and He brings them out of that; andHe brings them into the Promised Land, now He loves to see them sit there and enjoy God's blessings, God's abundance, their lands grow; grains coming and them make those nice breads, make the nice curries and lamb shanks and whatever. And God wants to see them eat good, and have everything to eat, and drink and be joyful. He says, "Eat and drink, and rejoice in the Lord. And thank the Lord for all the blessings. So when Jesus came, He was into it already. He has not come to propagate poverty, He has not come to exemplify poverty, contrary to what people think. He has not come to show how you can live with as little as possible. He has not come to teach ascetism, which is leaving everything and having nothing or utilitarianism, which is having only as much as what you need - two pants and two shirts, two sarees, two chudidhars. No more than two: if you had more than two, you are a sinner. Such people teach all these things. They think Jesus came to teach that. Jesus came to teach that we are in the land of eating and drinking, and rejoicing before the Lord: because the Lord has freed us from the fetters and the chains of poverty, and released us from our sin, and we are blessed people; we have entered into the blessing of Abraham, and eating and drinking, and rejoicing is our life. That's where the New Testament times and the church came together and they ate together. They sung and worshipped, and eat and all that, because that is part of it. It is a celebration. No wonder then that Jesus was celebrating so much around the table, because He has come to take the people into the Promised Land. He is on a journey taking them into the Promised Land. He has not come to propagate poverty; He has come to tell them about the good land where they will lack nothing, eat bread without scarcity and eat to the full and be satisfied and lack nothing. Now all those stories will make sense.

Now go to the stories now. Let's go to Chapter 7 of Luke verse 33, "For John the Baptist came, neither eating bread nor drinking wine and you sayhe has a demon". You see John the Baptist represented the idea of repentance. The people of Israel were backslidden, they had forgotten their God. He has come to turn their eyes back to God, come to call them to repentance. So one of the ways that the Old Testament repentance happened when they were sorry, they put ashes on themselves, and repented, and fasted. Fasting is a way of saying "I am sorry. I have been wrong". Fasting is a way of being sorry for all the sins that you have done. So John the Baptist came in that way. He came not eating and not drinking wine, and you say that he has a demon. They couldn't understand him; why was he doing that? They didn't say the need for repentance, they did not see that the need to go to God, empty themselves, and say, "Lord, without you I am nothing. I need your help; I repent. I come to you". No they didn't see all that. They said he has got a demon. Then the Son of Man came, eating and drinking and you say, "Look a glutton and a wine bibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners" but wisdom is justified by all her children - children means by all that it produces - in other words he issaying if you just look atwhat I produce, you will know whether I am a glutton or a wine bibber or what. My products show what kind of a person I am. What comes out of my ministry, my life will show who I am. Ultimately that's the proof; you shall know them by their fruits. They could not comprehend Jesus. They said, He must not be a spiritual man. If He is a spiritual man (see the thing is if you in our town, if you are spiritual man, you will fast - you are always fasting). Where did this guy come from? He is not fasting - he is not fasting enough at least. Why is he not always fasting? He is always eating and drinking - they could not understand. Well, if they understood that this is Moses, and Moses is not about fasting; Moses is about Promised Land - Moses is a prophet that has come to speak about the Promised Land, and the blessing of the Promised Land of milk and honey, and He has come to take people there. His message is not leading into poverty, His message is leading into the blessings of God - into the fullness of life.

So, as soon as you understand that, you will understand why Jesus' activity was more celebrative with festive meals. Celebrating what? Celebrating the Presence of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God has come. So He celebrates every meal, every fellowship, every time they sat around the table they fellowship eating and drinking, and celebrating the Presence of the Kingdom. So immediately once you understand that Jesus has come, He represents a totally different ideology, He is taking the people into the Promised Land; He is another Moses, He is not hear to talk about poverty. How can Moses talk about poverty; he came to deliver people from poverty. They were in poverty; they were in Egypt in poverty, He came to deliver them from the chains of poverty and nothingness, and brought them into the Promised Land. How can our new Moses, Jesus (who is Moses) talk about poverty. If He is Moses then He will not be talking about poverty; He would be talking about the good and vast land, land flowing with milk and honey. So immediately, you begin to understand what this is all about it.

The second passage is Luke chapter 5 (see all those difficult passages you will understand now, once you get this in the background) verse 33: Then they said to him, "Why do the disciples of John's disciples fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink?" - John the Baptist disciples fast and pray, Pharisees' disciples also do the same; they are prayer champions they are - they have made religion out of prayer. So many religious circles they have many religion out of prayer; how many hours do you pray? How many days do you fast? They have made a total religion out of prayer and fasting. They have got all set of rules about fasting and prayer and all that business. And the Pharisees were about that. I think as soon as you meet them, they will say, "On what days do you fast? How many days did you fast this week? How many hours did you pray today? Prayer is a religious activity for them. You know that is why they are counting the times; Oh it an hour. I prayed one hour today. Tonight I will pray one hour". That's the way they took it. And it's never like that. Prayer is talking to God my friend. And you want to talk to God as much as possible; you are not looking at your watch; "Well God, I got to go". It's not like that - you are talking to God. It's the most precious time of the day. You are not counting the minutes and time. One fellow came and said, "Pray that I will pray one hour". I said, why, what's the problem?" I must pray one hour my brother. I told my church I will pray one hour, but am able to pray not more than 10minutes. Soyou pray for me. Prayer is a religious activity to these people - religious people, carrying out a religious activity. It should never be preached like this. Prayer is a wonderful activity of our fellowship with to God - talking to our heavenly Father. It must not be brought down to simple rules of this and that; similarly fasting - fasting must not be brought down to, "How many days do you fast? This is Tuesday so you must fast. One fellow said this is ammavasai so you should fast. I said what has ammavasai to do with me. Ammavasai is where you you don't see the moon at all. And then full moon also they fast. I said, what religion do you belong to? What do you follow? They are bringing all these kinds of things. You know, how you fast, as a Christian, as a true believer, as the one who loves the Lord. Have you ever felt there are times when you feel you are not being fellowshipping with God as much as you want to - you want to do more. There is hunger, there is spiritual hunger, and therefore you set a side one day or one meal, or something, and you sit with your bible and you read, and you pray and you meditate, and not even eat your midday meal or evening meal or something; because you are hungry, you want that.It's like water: you need water, so you drink it. It's not like you drink two glasses in the morning, three glasses in the afternoon. You got to drink whenever you feel thirsty, that is a good time to drink. Whenever you feel hungry, that is a good time to eat. But people make it into a religion.
So these fellows are into their religion and they are trying to impose their religion on Jesus, saying, "We all fast, but your disciples, eat and drink". And He said to them, (listen to the answer) "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? You know what He is saying: He is saying, "Can you make the wedding guests fast, while the bridegroom is with them?" This is maappilaveedu. This is bridegroom's house. Bridegroom is here, we are having a party, we are enjoying, we are rejoicing; the wedding is going to take place. A great event is going to happen, we are in a celebratory mood. Now don't come and bring your fasting today, let's keep it for some other time; that is exactly what He is saying. The bridegroom is with them, how can you expect them to fast? "But the days will come when the bridegroom is doing to be taken away from them, then they will fast in those days".

Then He spoke a parable to them, (now whenever He speaks a parable they got to be ready, because bullets are coming now. Parable as far as I can understand - parables are like this with Jesus, He likes like to hit them really hard. He doesn't want to spare them. He doesn't want to be very hurtful. He doesn't want to say, "You fool" or something like that. So he wants to be kind, so he says, "Let me tell you a story". That is another way of calling a guy "fool" anyway, but telling a story to prove that.) You know I learnt a lot of things from Jesus and you need to learn a lot of things from Jesus too. Listen to this: He says, spoke a parable to them, "No one puts a piece from a new garments on an old garment. Otherwise a new garments makes it to tear and also that piece that was taken out of the new, doesn't match the old. (When you join the new and the old, it doesn't match for one thing; the colours don't match - one is in the eyes of newand the other is done. And the new makes it tear. Because in strength they are different). And no one puts new ones into old wineskins - in other words He is calling them old wineskins. Now wineskins are some kinds of leather containers into which they put wine. And when itferments, it expands, and so the leather already expanded much. Because already wine has already been put in it, but if you bring in, put in new wine in there it doesn't have more place to expand - it has expanded as much as it can. Now if you put new wine in it, you better be careful because it's going to tear up the wineskin because the wine is going to ferment in it and it is going to cause expansion and skin container is going to tear up. He says, "No one puts new wine into the old wineskins else the new wines will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wineskins will be ruined. In other words He is saying I am the new wine. You can't even understand my joy and my rejoicing; my eating and drinking you can't understand, you can never digest. Why? Because you are old wineskin. If I even start explaining this to you, you going to go crazy. You will not even comprehend what I am all about. You are not even able to understand what I am all about, so that is why I don't try to explain everything to you (that's exactly what He is saying) Because you are old wineskin - "You put the old wine in the new wineskin", He says. But we are new wineskin (you and I are new wineskin; born again, regenerated, we have the Holy Spirit, now you can put the new wine, we can sit here and we can see, exactly the point, we can understand exactly what Jesus meant). We don't have any misgivings about His eating and drinking, we are not joining that crowd that called Jesus a glutton and a wine bibber.

Now, I understand eating and drinking; eating and drinking means to me the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey and enjoyment of all the blessings of God; the blessings of God coming into reality, the blessings of Abraham becoming mine, me entering into the real enjoyment of good things; that is exactly what Jesus was doing. The kind of enjoyment Jesus was having was legitimate enjoyment, it is something that God can look and say, "It's good, very good". Do you know, there are things in our lives that God can look and say, "It is very good"And if you are in that position - if you are doing things in that way, and enjoying life, where God can look and say, "That's very good", then that's good my friend, enjoy it. You have every right to enjoy it, because it's God-given enjoyment, if God can truly look at your enjoyment and say, "I like it, it's very good" He has eaten some good food, "Very good", he has got some nice clothes, "Very good", he's got a nice house, "Very good", he has got nice comfortable cot to sleep in, "Very good". Why? Because he is not sleeping there forgetting God and God's laws, and has no relationship with God and sinning left and right; no, no,no He is a man devoted to God, loving God, serving God, it's his meat to do the Will of God; therefore everything is good; his enjoyment is good. These people are seeing something evil in it, but there is no evil in it. There is nothing wrong with this kind of eating and drinking, because He is going around doing the Will of the Father, He is about His Father's business, He is travelling everywhere, going and preaching and doing things; healing people, preaching the Gospel, the Kingdom of God. Am sure He is eating, sitting at the table, there is celebration, rejoicing; God says that's very good; nothing wrong. Don't let anybody condemn you. You know there is a lot of people that will come around calling you all kinds of things, because you enjoy something good. You go on enjoying; just make sure that God looks at it and says, "It's very good". That's all. Don't bother about what people say, just make sure that God can truly look at it and say, "That's good I like it". That's what it's all about.

And then the wedding of Cana, of Galilee - now the story in in John's gospel chapter 2 (everybody knows the story, so I don't have to read the story. But I am want to read just the last verse, because the last verse tells us why Jesus did that miracle). John 2:11, the story ends: "This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee (John says, commenting on the miracle) and manifested in His glory (beginning of signs means first miracle) and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him (it's a first miracle, so He wants to make a statement. It's a very important miracle, because He wants to make a statement about who He is and what he has come to do). Now, what has He come to do? Now, you know in every wedding almost you hear somebody preaching on John chapter 2, most weddings, you can tell exactly what the preacher is going to preach. That's why I never go there, in weddings. Coz already so many people are peaching about it, so I will just preach on something else. One day I went to a very traditional place, and a lot of traditional pastors were there, so I thought let's not get into any trouble, so let's just preach from John chapter 2; so open John chapter 2, and lo and behold, all prosperity is coming out: so I talked about the 6 jars and 180 gallons of wine, and how Jesus by this first miracles manifested for His glory, and I was telling those people who God will meet their needs and He will be the Lord of their lives and they will not be lacking anything, I mean it was just coming out. What can I do? And one preacher, at the end of the thing he says, "Even in wedding, you are preaching prosperity". I said, "I didn't preach it for you men. I preached for the guy, poor guy getting married, he looked like he was scared". That girl looks nice and he probably took one good look at her and said, "I don't know what she will be demanding me? Whatever she wants, can I provide, I got a small salary, I just got into a job. Am just starting. How can I meet all her needs? How am I going to make it? How is the future going to be? I am going to get along with her? Are things going to be fine? He is thinking about all that and he is getting really scared. And me as a preacher it's my job to put him at rest. So I told him don't worry, everything will be alright; that Jesus was there and at Cana of Galilee will be with you always, make your marriage and your life wonderful and beautiful because He is a Lord that feels you with every good thing. What is wrong with that? They will preach the Cana of Galilee but never preacher that. They will never say that this is what He will do. Because they don't see that at all, they cannot see that. But Jesus, remember He is Moses, He is taking them to the Promised Land. Remember what Moses said when he came to the people of Israel as a deliverer when God sent him. He said, "Come let's go. I am going to take you to the land flowing with milk and honey, a large and a vast land". He was not preaching poverty, he was telling them about good land, vast land, Promised that they were going into, and that God is going to bless them and so on. So this is a new Moses; no wonder as He does the first miracle, He wants to make that statement. He says, "Come on, I have come to fill your life with joy, and peace and every good thing in abundance". So we have no problem in understanding that; because we understand that Jesus comes as another Moses and He is here to take us into the Promised Land, and that is why He was speaking the way He was speaking, and behaving the way that He was behaving; the eating and drinking is all about that; the reason why His disciples were not fasting but eating and drinking is also because of that; because they were representing this whole idea of going into the Promised Land.

Fourthly, the other passage; Mark chapter 14 and verse 3."And being in the Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spike nard, then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were very indignant among themselves and said:"Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than 300 denarii and given to the poor. And they criticized her sharply". (300 denarii means: in that day, 1 denarii is one day's wage, so 300 is almost a one year's wage; so no wonder they were so upset because she broke it, and poured it on Jesus' head.) Jesus said, "Let her alone", (now look at Jesus' response)"Let her alone, why do you trouble her. She has done a good work for me". He is actually saying she has done a good work. He is actually saying she has done a good work. He didn't say it's alright she has broken it, what to do? He said, "She had done a good work, don't trouble her, don't stop her". And then He makes a second statement, "for you have the poor with you always"(this is even worse). And whenever you wish you do even good, "but Me you do not have always". She has done what she could, she has come before hand to anoint my body for burial. Assuredly I say to you, "Wherever this gospel is preached in the world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her". Now what is in this story to tell wherever the gospel is preached? This woman comes and pours the oil on His head - the expensive oil. Everybody objects but she pours and Jesus says it's alright she has done a good thing. And Jesus says, "Whatever she has done will be told everywhere where the gospel is preached". Let me ask you: what is in the story to be told everywhere the gospel is preached? (Just think about that) What is in the story?

See, they could not understand what that woman understood (the woman that broke the oil understood) - they thought with this we can feed so many people, with this we can provide clothes for so many people, we this we can sell and give to the poor, and serve some good purpose. That's the way people think normally, and they were thinking along the same lines. But she saw Him, and she poured the oil - that expensive bottle and she didn't mind it at all. Because when she saw Him, she understood that He was the Savior. If that oil was sold and the clothes and food were bought for the poor people, it could last only for a few days for them. You can give few people food for a few days, clothes for a few days, with that bottle of oil - selling with that bottle of oil. But what He would do, as a Savior, dying on the Cross, shedding His blood, taking their sin and their curse upon Him, will solve the entire world's poverty problem. He is the solution to the problem of poverty. When Jesus hung there on the Cross, the crown of thorns was laid upon Him, signifying that He boreour poverty. When Adam sinned, thorns and thistles began to grow, before that there was no thorns and thistles, only what you sowed would grow. Now thorns and thistles began to grow. And when Jesus was hanging on the Cross, the Crown of Thorn was put on His head, signifying that these thorns and thistles were part of our lives, it was on our head, and the curse was on our head, but now it's upon Jesus' head, He has borne the curse of poverty Himself; He is the answer. So the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the goodness of the gospel is much more than just simple social work - social work is good because it feeds the person immediately -today he needs food, it's good to give him food, today somebody needs clothes to cover their nakedness, you don't want to see the person go naked without clothes, or a sheet to cover themselves or something like that. You want to provide them something; that is what social work is. Now that is how it started. But now people think that's the answer - they even they that we can sell everything that we have and give to the poor, and it would solve the whole problem of the world. It won't. What will solve the whole problem is what Jesus has done on the Cross of Calvary. If a person truly hears the message of the gospel about what the Cross means and how Jesus borenot only our sins, but our curse; and the blessings of Abraham have come through that; if the gospel is truly preached, then what will happen is the person who hears it and believes in it, and holds on to it, will never down and out and will never be poor; he will raise from that poverty and experience blessings in his life. I say it boldly and with all my heart. You may say, "Well how can that be". Yes it is. Some people say, "Well, I don't believe so". Well it won't beso for you, because you already don't believe. But if a person truly believes, it will raise him up from that poverty - and deliver him from that poverty. Yea, social work is fine and good, because it gives a temporary relief - only a few days that person's stomach will be filled, and a few days he will be clothed, but then his clothes will become old, his food will be depleted, again he needs refilling. You can't be refilling all the time, but when you give Him the gospel of Jesus Christ and the solution that He has brought to the poverty problem, that is a permanent solution - she saw it. And Jesus said, "She is anointing my head with oil, because she is doing it for my burial. She is honouring me as the Savior, as the curse bearer. That's why Jesus was not worried about these people telling this and giving it to the poor, no. It's not that Jesus was a bad person didn't concern Himself with the poor, or anything like that. No, He concerned Himself with the poor more than these people did. These people act like they are do-gooders. But Jesus is the one that gave His life, to deliver them from poverty, but they could never see that. Moses is all about prosperity, Moses is all about going into the Promised Land, and Moses is all about taking the people from the slavery and nothingness to prosperity and blessing and good life; that's what Moses is all about.

So as soon as you understand this thing about Moses and how Jesus is another Moses (or our Moses), immediately this idea of eating and drinking falls in place - we understand what this is all about. This is a Promised Land terminology; eating and drinking that Jesus was exemplifying is a Promised Land behavior. Immediately when you understand Jesus as a prophet you can understand how the two things fit together. How He can say to one fellow, "Sell everything, give to the poor, and come and follow me" and there are people that He never said anything to. Joseph Arimatheahe owned land; he buried Jesus in one of his lands, he never sold everything and come and followed Jesus. He followed Jesus without selling everything. There are others who ministered to Him with their wealth - women who ministered to Him with their wealth, they kept their wealth, but spent much of it for Jesus and so on. They followed Jesus - they were true followers of Jesus. So many others were like that. See Jesus made a demand to this fellow, but did not make the demand to others.

I will give you one big story - next week I will deal it in fullness. That is the story is Zacchaeus - He goes into Zacchaeus' house, and this guy is loaded, I mean he has looted the whole town and collected taxes beyond what he should collect, and he has looted people, and done all kinds of things, and Jesus walks into His house, and never even says anything about, "You should sell and give everything to the poor, and come and follow me" In the same gospel of Luke - never says anything about it to him. And that fellow says, "If I have taken anything unjustly by false accusation, from anybody, I will return it four times" (that's how much he has got. Oh he is loaded...four times I will give it back). And then he says, "I will give half of my wealth to the poor". But my question is: "What about the rest?" You say half, but what about the other half? According to Jesus, and what He told the rich young ruler, half is not enough. You got to give everything, you got to leave everything. You got to sell everything, give it to the poor, then come and follow me. For man will not do it, he cannot. Why didn'tJesus tell this fellow to do that? (I will tell you why: Jesus did not mind him keeping the rest of the half) Because Jesus did not mind this man keeping the rest of the half. You know why? Because this fellow by his action already has demonstrated that his heart has changed, that he is not like before - that his heart has totally changed - he has totally repented, he agrees that he is a sinner, he doesn't want to keep anybody's money, he wants to return it to them, and he wants to give half of his wealth to the poor. So Jesus looks at him (I know what Jesus was thinking). I am not worried about him keeping the rest of the half, because he has already wanting to give 4 times more, and he has already wanting to give half of his wealth. Am sure with whatever is left also he will do the right thing, because his heart has changed. When your heart is changed you can keep the money, that is. When your heart is after God, when you wholeheartedly believe in God and follow Christ, then this money is not going to ruin you - the money is going to serve its purpose.

So that is why Jesus never asked him, instead of telling him (instead of telling him; just like he told the rich young ruler: "Well Zacchaeus that is why I came into your house. You better sell everything, give everything to the poor. This half business won't work. I am not here for half, am for the full. He never said that. Do you what he said: "Salvation has come to this house today" Amazing! In the same gospel of the Luke, Salvation has come to this house. How can salvation come? The guy didn't part with everything. He is keeping half very clearly. 50% he is keeping. Jesus says, "Salvation has come to this house". Because Jesus says, "Now he is 100% mine, his heart belongs to me 100%. He has demonstrated a change of heart, a true repentance, therefore it is no problem (see immediately the two things put together, you can understand why Jesus said to the rich young ruler, "You must sell everything, give everything to the poor, then only you must andcome follow me". Without that you cannot do it. You know why? Because that guy not only had money, money had him. His heart was in the money, he was covetous, he was full of love for money, and he could not part with his money. He must sell everything and give everything to the poor. And come and follow Him, because his heart is attached to the money - where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. That man's heart can never cling to Jesus, because his heart is upon the things of this world. So Jesus says, "You sell everything". But to this manit's not necessary, because he has already abundantly displayed the fact that his heart is on Jesus, on doing the right thing. He doesn't want to be wrong before God. He wants God to see him and say, "It is very good". Zacchaeus has decided I am not going to live like this anymore. I want God to see me, and say, "It is very good, very good, very good". He decided that day, and God said, "That is very good". Just like Adam and Eve could keep everything that God made, Zacchaues could keep it all now. Why? Because his heart had turned and he would do the right thing, in the right situation, with these resources that God has given to him. Amen.

Well let's continue next week. I will talk about Zacchaeus more fully, next week, that's a big story. Short fellow but long story.

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