A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

April 6, 2014

Matthew 9:17

"Neither do they put just-made wine into worn-out wineskins.
Otherwise, the wineskins burst and the wine is poured out and the wineskins are ruined.  But they put just-made wine into wineskins new in quality, and both are preserved from perishing."

     In Matthew, Chapter 9, verses 14-17, Jesus is asked by John the Baptist's disciples why He does not require His disciples to fast as they and the Pharisees do.  In the case of this particular verse, Jesus is trying to explain that the priority for His disciples are the new understandings that He is teaching them.  Jesus is not denying that they have the understanding of fasting according to the Jewish laws, as do the Pharisees; nor that they have not been schooled in the purpose of fasting to get closer to God, as the disciples of John have been taught.  Fasting was just not their highest calling at the moment.
     Indeed, Jesus's Disciples were being taught a new understanding of man's relationship to God by the very Son of God, Himself!  Furthermore, Jesus knew he had precious little time to teach them all they would need to know to carry on His work after He was gone.  In fact, He tells John's Disciples that there is no time for fasting for the companions of the Bridegroom, while the Bridegroom was still with them.  There would be a time for such religious practices after He had been taken away from them.
     Jesus knows that His Disciples need to be strengthened for the Great Commission He would soon entrust them with.  As the great theologian, Matthew Henry, states:  "There were among the Jews not only sects of the Pharisees and Essenes, who led an austere life, but also schools of the prophets, who frequently lived in mountains and deserts, and were many of them Nazarites; they had also private academies to train men up in a strict discipline; and possibly from these many of John’s disciples might come, and many of the Pharisees; whereas Christ’s disciples, being taken immediately from their callings, had not been used to such religious austerities, and were unfit for them, and would by them be rather unfitted for their other work."
     Jesus's Disciples, not too many months prior, had been simple fishermen; they were not yet equipped for the religious intensity required of deliberate and committed fasting.  They were still in a state of infancy as to their readiness to follow Christ.  He gives the excellent example of pouring new wine into old wineskins ... An old dried wineskin cannot take the rapid expansion of new wine, it will split.  
     How does this apply to the Church today?  The old dried wineskin represents the Church and its centuries of doctrines and religious exercises.  When the Modern Church tries to push, or "pour" a new Christian too quickly into the age-old framework of religious practices and exercises, they "split", just like the wineskins.  New Christians, like new wine being poured into new wineskins, need to be encouraged within a new experience that is uniquely their own, while remaining true to God's Word.
     Tell me you have not seen the following scenario repeated too many times ... we take a new Believer and baptize them before they even know what baptism means, and then quickly try to get them into Church work, while browbeating them about attending Church every time the doors are open.  How often do you see those "baby Christians" break under the burden of too much, too soon?  Their profession of faith is not allowed to grow and mature into a rock solid and true relationship with the Father and the Son.  The sudden conversion and title of "Christian" is labeled "work done"; meanwhile, they flounder in misunderstanding, misdirection and neglect ... fertile ground for Satan to unplow that precious kernel of faith.  
     Jesus understood that He needed to teach and lead His disciples in the practices that they were able to cope with; over-burdening them at this stage would not serve them (or His kingdom).  He was teaching them at their own pace, and at the rate they were able to grasp the understanding and practice of His Divine teachings.  There would be time for the rigors of fasting --- it was not now.  We must be as considerate and careful in leading new Christians; we must not push their growth faster than they are able to fully comprehend.  Like, Christ, we are to gently and steadily guide them to new levels of understanding, new growth, and new heights of Faith.  In this manner, we strengthen them for a lifetime of service and devotion to our God.

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