Lesson Five – The Transition Period

The Transition Period

Lesson Aim:  To consider certain statements, stories and parables given by Jesus while on earth about the kingdom of God in its transition.

Scriptures:  Matt. 9:10-17; Mark 2:15-22; Luke 5:29-39; Luke 16:19-31; Matt. 13:51-53.

Historical analysis for reading the parable in Matt. 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32.

Place:  In Matthew’s (Levi) hometown which was a village near the Sea of Galilee. Mark 2:13, 15.

Occasion:  Matthew gave a banquet for Jesus and His disciples to celebrate his being ask to be one of His followers.  His other guests were his friends and colleagues.  The Pharisees considered them sinners.  The Pharisees wanted to know why Jesus ate with sinners.

Time:  Early in Jesus’ Galilean ministry.

Audience:  All who were present were privileged to hear Jesus say, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  However, it appears the Pharisees, who were not guests, were the chief recipients.

Aim:  To help all who heard him to know that Jesus came to seek and save the lost, whoever they were.  Also to know that God is more concerned with the condition of our hearts than our sacrifices.

Hook:  Every body knew who needed a doctor.  It was the sinner but the Pharisees would not admit they were sinners.

Historical analysis for reading the parable in Matt. 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39.

Place:  Perhaps somewhere in Galilee.

Occasion:  John’s disciples ask a question about fasting.

Time:  Early ministry in Galilee.

Audience:  Disciples of Jesus and John.

Aim:  To help them understand Jesus’ true identity, everything would be new in His kingdom.

Hook:  They knew the answers to Jesus’ questions about the bridegroom and about cloth and wine.


This lesson will use principles from the parables commonly known as New Patches on Old Garments, New Wine in Old Wineskins, and the Householder.  The story of the rich man and Lazarus will also be considered.  The Scriptures are found in the texts above.

The title chosen for this lesson refers to the transition God made in the way He organized and administered His kingdom for His people.  It was a transition from the Law of Moses and Levitical priesthood system involving Israel to Jesus’ rule as king and priest “in Christ.”  The transition was from the old covenant to the new covenant (Heb. 8:6-13).  The Bible student must understand that Jesus lived and died under the period of time in which God dealt with His people by the Law of Moses (Gal. 4:4, 5).  His lessons generally dealt with God’s kingdom after Jesus was given the reign (Mark 9:1).  It was, and it is, God’s kingdom but we speak of a change in its administration.

Many erroneous doctrines have been advanced because the events of Acts Two have not been properly set in history.  This was the exact day on which we must divide the old from the new.  The “new” means the kingdom of God with Jesus as king.  This was the first day a new birth was offered to mankind.  This was the first time God adopted people as His sons with His Holy Spirit indwelling them.  It was the first time a person could be transferred from the “world realm” into this new realm known as “in Christ.”  They were the “called out” of the world by the gospel of Christ; consequently, they were, and are, the church of Christ.  It was a great day!


And it happened that as He was reclining at table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and joined Jesus and His disciples at the table.  And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with the tax-gatherers and sinners?’  But when He heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill.  But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’  Matt. 9:10-13

The Pharisees in general were not able to identify Jesus of Nazareth with the Messiah promised by the prophets.  One reason they could not make this connection was because of their own warped view of God’s overall program for mankind.  Their concept of the kingdom did not allow sinners (by their standards) to enjoy citizenship.  Jesus points out the fact that it is the sick who need the physician.  It is also a fact that people who are sick, but do not know it, do not call the doctor.  The Pharisees were very sick, spiritually, but they did not appear to know it.  A Pharisee by the name Saul finally understood he was spiritually ill after Jesus personally visited him from heaven (Acts 9:5).  He became the Apostle Paul (Phil. 3:4-6).

The nature of the kingdom with Jesus as king would change.  It would serve the citizens in a more personal way than God’s kingdom had served its citizens during the Law period.  Jesus said God desired compassion and not sacrifice.  The kingdom would be able to produce people who would be compassionate.  Sinners would be cleansed of even the guilt of their sins by the blood of the king/priest; therefore, it would be possible for us to conform to His image (Rom. 8:29).  Jesus taught life principles, as in eternal life, and grace doctrines based on His sacrifice before His kingdom was established.  We can learn them from His teachings in the Gospels and by the life He lived as the Son of Man.

The disciples of John did not appear to recognize Jesus as the Son of God.  They did not give Him the same place of importance as they would a bridegroom.  Jesus said His disciples would fast when He went away.  It should be noted that the Jews believed in fasting (Matt. 6:16-18).

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?’  And Jesus said to them, ‘The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they?  But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.’  Matt. 9:14, 15

Jesus practiced fasting (Matt. 4:2).  Also, the members of the church did fast on various occasions (Acts 13:3; 14:23).  Perhaps fasting should be given serious thought by Christians today.  Because of the seriousness of the matter, fasting might be useful on the occasion of the church sending out missionaries (Acts 13:2).  If our decision making processes could be enhanced by abstaining from food then fasting might be an appropriate activity leading up to our “big choices” in life.

The following parable was given by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  They all recorded it following the foregoing quote of Jesus’ declaration:

But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results.  Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. Matt. 9:16, 17

Jesus is telling His Jewish audience their thinking was all wrong about His kingdom.  They seem to have thought in terms of taking what they had and adding whatever the promised Messiah had to offer.  They would have kept physical Israel with the Messiah as king.  We understand from these parables Jesus was thinking in terms of an “all new” arrangement.  It is true the worship under the Levitical priesthood was “a type” of the worship we enjoy today; however, nothing was carried over from that system into Jesus’ kingdom administration. The transition involved a complete break with the Law of Moses, the Levitical Priesthood and the animal sacrifice.  Even circumcision which pre-dated all of the above was no longer a “seal of righteousness.” See John 7:22 & Rom. 4:11.  The Holy Spirit’s presence with a Christian is God’s seal of ownership.  See John 7:37-39; Acts 5:32; Eph. 1:13, 14.

To this writer, the story of the rich man and Lazarus does not fall into the category of a parable.  A real parable involves a well known everyday story about practical life.  The story of the rich man and Lazarus is just the opposite.  This story is about the unknown spiritual world after death.  It was a story which was contemporary with the transition period.  Please read Luke 16:19-31.  Two men died.  One went to Abraham’s bosom.  The other went to a part of Hades which was a place of torment.  The rich man asked Abraham to help him.  He was told it was not possible.

His next plea and Abraham’s response is the main point of Jesus’ story.  The rich man asked Abraham to send someone to warn his five brothers.  They evidently were living the same type life which had gotten him where he found himself.  Abraham retorted, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them.”  The rich man did not believe they would listen to those who taught the Law and Prophets.  He did think his brothers might listen to someone who arose from the dead.  Abraham made a statement at this point which was both prophetic and a statement of principle:

But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’  Luke 16:31

The prophetic point would be fulfilled very soon.  Jesus would return from Hades.  He would commission the Apostles and His church to preach the kingdom to those same people who rejected the Law and the Prophets.  The principle is that those who did not have respect for the Law and Prophets would not be impressed with the One who arose from the dead.  People who pursue worldly lust will not be detoured from their pursuits even though a family member came from the dead and warned them about Hell.  It might slow them up a little.  A person who is lustful will not let the possibility of Hell stop him or her in their worldly pursuits.  It takes a message with new hope – such as being a son of God.  It is quite possible that none of the rich man’s five brothers changed their way of living when Jesus arose from the dead.  This story had it’s beginning under the Law of Moses and projected its end through the resurrection of Jesus.  It is a transitional story.

And He said to them, `therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.’  Matt. 13:52

The householder Jesus had in mind in this short parable, or simile, must have lived in his house a long time.  Perhaps, he had inherited his place from his forefathers.  He would be able to produce articles from several generations as well as some modern things.  A scribe was one who copied the Scriptures.  Jesus pointed out that a scribe who was converted to His kingdom would be able to enjoy both sides of the Cross.  He, like the householder, would be able to relate to things from the old and things from the new.

Can you imagine living under the Law of Moses as a faithful Jew?  All of your life you had been looking for the Messiah.  You had been offering your animal sacrifices and reading about the promises.  Then, all at once, the Son of God is right here in this world with you!  He dies for you just as it had been prophesied in the same Scriptures you had faithfully copied.  He arose and you believed and were born again.  You did not need to offer animal sacrifices anymore.  He offered Himself as a sacrifice once for all sins.  You were really clean.  The Holy Spirit came to live with you.  You had lived through the transition period.  What an experience a faithful scribe must have enjoyed!

The sermon preached by the apostles as recorded in Acts Two was the announcement to the world that the transition had been completed.  Jesus was seated as king and priest.  They need not look to Moses or the Levitical priest anymore.  Moses would have agreed with this.  See Deut. 18:18, 19.  Peter later referred to these events in Acts Two as the beginning.

And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning. Acts 11:15

Bible history must be properly divided by teachers of God’s word before we begin to teach doctrines; otherwise, we may unwittingly teach error for truth.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What period of Bible history did Jesus live and die under?
  2. What is the exact day on which we can divide the old from the new?
  3. List some blessings which were first available to believers on the above day.
  4. Give one reason why the Jews in general could not identify Jesus as the Messiah.
  5. Why will the kingdom of Jesus be able to produce compassionate people?
  6. Why does it appear that John’s disciples did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God?
  7. Give your understanding of the parables in Matt. 9:16, 17.
  8. Give your reasons why you think Luke 16:19-31 might be a story or a parable.
  9. What was the rich man’s request of Abraham?  How is Abraham’s answer prophetic?
  10. What is the principle that is established from Luke 16:19-31?
  11. What advantages would a scribe have who was converted to Christianity?
  12. Why is it important for a teacher of God’s word to get their Bible history correct?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply