Summary: It seems to me that Jesus is saying He didn’t come to patch things up for me. HE ISN’T INTO PATCHING UP MY OLD WAY OF LIFE. He wants to make EVERYTHING NEW! New birth in Christ is NOT JUST A RENOVATION OF THE OLD WAY OF LIFE!
Part 4 - Matthew 9:15-17 - RENOVATE OR DEMOLISH AND START AGAIN!
People in Airlie Beach in Australia are facing the task of a huge cleanup after a cyclone hit in the early hours of Sunday morning. Some are faced with the choice of renovate or start again.
My son and daughter in law are also wanting to RENOVATE their home. They need more space with a new baby coming. As it is my granddaughter sleeps in what was once a large walk-in closet. So they really need some space. Even then the house will still be small.
The house next door to my son’s house is full of asbestos. The neighbours want to do something about that but they have decided not to renovate, but to START AGAIN. They have decided to DEMOLISH it completely and REBUILD. They want a COMPLETELY NEW HOUSE.
RENOVATE OR DEMOLISH? That’s the choice Jesus gives in Matthew 9:16-17.
Here’s what happened - Some disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus and question Him as to why He and His disciples don’t fast. Apparently not eating food for a time in order to devote yourself to prayer was a tradition for John’s disciples and also the religious leaders of the time. Perhaps they were fasting and praying for John’s release from prison (Yes, right from the beginning people are getting into trouble for believing in Jesus) and were wondering why Jesus and His disciples were not doing so. Good question! Not only that but they ate with tax collectors and sinners!
In Matthew 9:15 Jesus replies "Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast." He turns it around on them. NOW is not the time for fasting. NOW IS THE TIME TO CELEBRATE! There will be time for fasting LATER when you have a reason to fast, not just for the sake of fasting. And if you going to celebrate, CELEBRATE WITH NEW WINE IN NEW WINE SKINS!
Jesus is obviously speaking about Himself as the Bridegroom. And when He is around there is REASON TO CELEBRATE and to experience great joy. Psalms 16:11 (NASB) says it this way - "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is FULLNESS OF JOY"
What Jesus says next SOUNDS STRANGE AND UNRELATED. That’s not uncommon for Jesus of course. He always seems to want me to take me off guard and get me to think about what I’m doing and the reason I’m doing it. In Matthew 9:16-17 (NLT) He says, "Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved."
SO WHAT IS ALL THIS ABOUT WINESKINS? Is He saying that the practise of fasting is like patching up the old way of life? Yes, that’s part of it. It seems to me that He is saying He didn’t come to patch things up for me. HE ISN’T INTO PATCHING UP MY OLD WAY OF LIFE. He wants to make EVERYTHING NEW! New birth in Christ is NOT JUST A RENOVATION OF THE OLD WAY OF LIFE!
In John 3:3,6 (NLT) Jesus says to a Pharisee named Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God... Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life." 1 John 5:1 (NLT) says "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God...."
Doing things for the sake of tradition or ritual or ceremony or appearance is trying to patch up the old way of life and eventually it will fall apart. 2 Timothy 3:5 (NASB) speaks about people who do that as "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; ..."
I don’t drink wine but I want this new wine that Jesus speaks of. He’s good at turning water into the best wine. And I want the new wineskins. I want the wine that can’t be contained in my old life. So new that nothing can hold it back. It will burst through the old ways with the energy and power of the Holy Spirit. In John 10:10 (NIV) Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and HAVE IT TO THE FULL."
Ephesians 1:19-23 (NLT)speaks about this kind of wine. It speaks of "the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honour at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. ...And the church is His body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with Himself." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says "Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."