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Sermon Summary • Feb 26, 2017

Sermon Summary (Feb 26, 2017)
Mark 2:18-22 • Pastor Tim Tseng

18 “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours [Jesus’] are not?” Fasting is to abstain from food or the period in which the abstinence takes place to show humility and repentance before God. It may be that Jesus’ disciples were fasting, but not showing it publicly. After all, Jesus did criticize fasting for show in Matthew 6:16-18. Maybe Jesus’ disciples were fasting according to Isaiah 58, where God criticizes Israel for fake fasting. It’s likely that Jesus and his disciples were part of a prophetic spirituality.

20 “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them.” Jesus’ response indicated that his disciples did not fast while he was on earth. But they would again when he leaves them. For us, who do not have physical contact with Jesus, we ought to yearn deeply for him. So strong is our yearning that when we are worshiping, studying the bible, or praying, we actually get a foretaste of the joy of the Lord.

—  One of the reasons why Christians yearn to be with Jesus is because he is too new, too different, for the old world to comfortably contain. In verses 21-22, Jesus talks again about himself and his kingdom. But this time, he uses different metaphors. 21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” Jesus and his kingdom are the unshrunk cloth and the new wine. The religion of the Pharisees and maybe fake fasting are represented by old garment and the old wineskins.

— My decision to accept the invitation to renew my service as your pastor was very difficult. Here’s why. Throughout my ministry – from theological education to leadership equipment, I’ve always thought about my ministry as being part of a “super hero” team of dedicated, self-sacrificing, eager activists for Jesus Christ. Sort of like the X-men. I always thought of myself to be like Professor Xavier. Even until now that image is what makes me most happy about ministry. But, after six years at Canaan, I started to feel like my ministry was more like the Huang family of the TV show “Fresh Off the Boat” and that my role was like Grandma Huang who is also wheel chair bound. So just as Professor X would not be a goof fit for “Fresh Off the Boat,” I have never felt that I “fit” into Canaan. But I realized that it’s possible that not “fitting” is actually good. It’s actually how Jesus saw his role. Rather, all of us should see ourselves as old garments and wineskins. Jesus is too new for us. So, we need to ask God to transform us to newness. Not to reject and replace the old us, but to renew and restore us to newness so that he can fit. So I agreed to renew my contract in hopes living with “misfits” may actually help us all seek to be transformed – transfigured!

— How do we apply this? (1) By unlearning what we have been taught. I have to unlearn the image of being Xavier of the X-men in order to be your pastor. And I hope you’ll unlearn the image of being the Huang family. We all have to unlearn in order to be transformed into newness. (2) Rethink and break old routines and be open to uncertainty. This allows us to embrace the new. So try something different in your daily spiritual practice! Let us be transfigured into new wineskins for the new wine of Jesus!

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About Tim Tseng, Ph.D.

I am Pacific Area Director of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship's Graduate and Faculty Ministries. I'm also a historian, theological educator, and pastor.

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