MATTHEW 9:14-17: “Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
OBSERVATION: Am I positioned for the Lord to do something new in my life this year? Jesus came to make all things new. Paul declares – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). And in Revelation we read – “Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:5 NKJV). Yet, if I am honest with myself, I am more like John the Baptist’s disciples than I am Jesus’ disciples. Let me explain.
John’s disciples were use to doing things a certain way. Their teaching and ministry was an extension of the Old Covenant along with all of its’ rituals and practices. The only difference between them and the Pharisees was their heart. They were sincerely trying to prepare their hearts for the Lord, but with all the old patterns and ideas. Therefore, when they saw Jesus’ disciples not following these old patterns and ideas they took them to task with Jesus. They asked Jesus – “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus’ answer was twofold. First, He said that His disciples were not fasting since they were in the presence of the Bridegroom, the Messiah. The Old Testament pattern for fasting was to rend one’s heart in repentance before the Lord. Now that the Lord of all Creation stood in their midst how could they rend their hearts in the midst of such overwhelming joy?
Secondly, Jesus showed them that the New Covenant could not be instituted upon the rituals and practices of the Old. The New Covenant is illustrated by the new piece of cloth and the new wine. You cannot join these to old pieces of cloth or old wineskins. The God who makes all things new was doing a new thing among them. If they were going to enter and understand the Kingdom of God they would have to let go of the old and embrace the new. There would come a time for fasting in the future, but even this would take on a new dimension and purpose in the New Covenant.
Lamentations tells us that the Lord’s Mercies are new every morning. God desires to do something new in our lives – even in the midst of the New Covenant. We can become just like the disciples of John if we hold on to old patterns and experiences. To remember the “good old days” as if they held the “key” – is to miss the “good new days” that the Lord desires to bring into our lives. Each New Year we are given a gift of laying down the old and reaching forth to that which is new. God never changes, His Word never changes, but the outworking of His unchangeable presence and unfaltering Word in our lives does. We need to receive the new patch on new cloth, the new wine in new wineskins. If we resist we run the risk of being frozen in time and missing the “new thing” the Lord is doing.
Lord, help me to open my heart and mind to the “new thing” that You desire to do in my life. Help me to come to You and Your unchanging, unfaltering Nature and Word with expectation for You to reveal “new things” and “new ways” in my life and ministry. This year – make all things new! In Jesus Name!