something old, something new

021914

Matthew 9:14-17

14 Then the disciples of John came to Jesus, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 And Jesus said to them, “Would it be proper for the wedding guests to mourn while the bridegroom is still with them? But The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

16 No one patches an old piece of clothing with a piece of brand new cloth, for the patch would tear away from the piece of clothing, causing a worse tear.

17 You also do not put new wine into old wineskins. If you do, the skins burst and the wine spills and the skins are destroyed. So you put new wine into fresh wineskins, and then both are kept intact.”

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something old, something new

John the Baptizer was Jesus’ forerunner, so he called people to be citizens of the same future kingdom from the sky that Jesus did. There were many similarities in their preaching ministries. For example, John raged at the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes.[1] Jesus continued calling God’s people to be real, just as John had. But Jesus was also starting something brand new. For that reason, some of the old traditions and ceremonies did not fit. Ritual fasting, for example, long a heritage of ancient Judaism, would not fit the lifestyle of Jesus and the apostles as they engaged in saturation evangelism. Fasting is seeking the answer. It does not make sense to seek when the answer is already present.

Jesus was not saying that fasting was wrong, even then. He encouraged it.[2] He just did not want his disciples sidetracked by an old tradition because they were the ones who would bring in a new faith. When Jesus went back to heaven, that is when it became OK for his disciples to fast again.

John’s disciples were basically wondering the same things Pharisees and scribes wondered. They wanted to know why the disciples were not joining them. But Jesus used the new cloth on old cloth, and the new wine in old wineskin metaphors to show that God is adding something new to the mix. The old stuff is not necessarily wrong. It just won’t fit.

LORD, help us to discern which of our old traditions no longer fit the new faith you have given us. Help us to be “all in” with the gospel, and reject even those good things that keep us from sharing it.


[1] see Matthew 3:7-12.

[2] Matthew 6:16-17.

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About Jefferson Vann

Jeff is a former Christian missionary.
This entry was posted in discipleship, evangelism, fasting, kingdom of God and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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