Putting the New wine into the New Wineskin!!!
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then will they fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”…. Matthew 9:14-17
In these verses, We see Jesus responding to the Disciples of John when they questioned Him about Fasting. Let us therefore Learn from the mouth of Jesus what He said about Fasting so that we don’t end up as the Pharisees and Disciples of John thinking we are Disciples of the Lord.
Then the Disciples of John came to Him, saying “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your Disciples do not fast?”: In the question they asked Jesus, we see an attitude that is fundamentally wrong which is” Because I fast, then others must fast” This is an unchristian attitude!!! If you feel like fasting, Go ahead and Fast in the way that Jesus commanded in Matthew 6:16-18, which must be done secretly!!! The Disciples of John came boasting “We fast often” They proclaimed their own goodness and Devotion. They bragged about their Religious activities. There are many who writes about How often they fast and pray. In Many biographies of many leaders, we see them mentioning how many days they fasted and how many hours they spent daily in prayers. If all these has been done in secret as the Lord commanded, then No one would have known about it, but because Men Love to get Honour for their spiritual activities, they have allowed their fasting to be known to others, at times in moments of testimonies. Let us therefore tame our Tongues never to speak to others of how often we fast or pray. Another thing we see in their question is that they judged the Disciples of Jesus saying “They do not fast?” And my question is how did they know? Jesus has taught His Disciples the importance of secret fasting. So to others they appeared as people who do not fast!!! Because they do not boast and brag about their fast, the Disciples of John concluded that “They never fast”. Let us be careful never to Judge others level of Devotion by what we see. For You know nothing about their private Lives. We are never to use ourselves as a Standard for other people’s Devotion. If we fast often, we must not conclude that, that makes us more spiritual than those who don’t fast often. If we pray for 4 hours daily, we must not use the time we spend in prayer as a standard for other people.
It is also important to note that Compulsory Fasting is contrary to the teachings of the New testament. God does not force People to Fast, but the Pharisees do. Jesus always says “When You fast(Matt 6:14). He never says” You Must Fast” and there is no such command in the New testament. Fasting is suggested but Never commanded. Jesus fasted, the Disciples fasted, the Apostles fasted but it was never as a result of Compulsion. It is very important that we keep fasting in the place that Scriptures keep it lest we become Disciples of John and Pharisees.
And Jesus said to them, “Can the friend of the Bridegroom mourn as Long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast: Jesus did not rebuke the Disciples of John for boasting or judging his Disciples. Instead He framed His response in such a way that it justifies His Disciples and Yet do not condemn the Attitude of John’s Disciple towards them. Let us therefore learn to reply those who seek to find fault in us with Wisdom and not to condemn them for their Failures. Jesus answered their question using illustration. Christ is the Bridegroom and the Disciples are His Friends. While Christ was still physically present with them, they don’t need to pray. But now, we are in a Time where the Bridegroom has been taken away from us. From the answer Jesus gave, we have a clue of one of the Reasons why a Disciple may chose to Fast. Fasting is an expression of ones Longing for the presence of the Bridegroom. Fasting is a sense of Devotion to the Lord that results in abstaining oneself from food. Fasting is a way of saying to the Lord, “I Desire Your presence more than My Daily Bread” we are in a time where a True Disciple of the Lord who is Longing for a Deeper Devotion to the Lord should have the habit of fasting. But it must not be based on Compulsion. Fasting loses its value when it is forced on others. God Loves a cheerful giver( 2 Corinthians 9:7), whether it is fasting, money, prayer. Anything we do grudgingly and compulsorily has no value before God. Let us therefore Press on to the place where our devotions to the Lord and Longing for the coming of our Bridegroom drive us to abstain from food.
Then Jesus gave two Parables to Drive home his points about Compelling others to Fast.
(1) Putting unshrunk cloth on an old garment: Christ Disciples at this time are new Converts like a New Unshrunk cloth. Making Fasting Compulsory for them will be very hard and difficult for them because they are not used to it. Making fasting a Must for them is Like trying to put them on an old garment. Young Believer must not be exposed to hard religious exercise lest they become discouraged and give up the whole Christian race. We are to lead others in a gentle way until they grow up to maturity to have a personal Devotion to the Lord. If we try to put the new garment on the Old garment as if they were at the same spiritual level, it will only make them worse. Let us therefore give freedom to people to choose when and how long they want to fast. Our responsibility is to tell others the benefits of fasting but we are not to force it upon them or use our own pattern and convictions to set a standard for them. If we do, we will only make them worse!!!
(2) Putting New wine into old wineskins: Jesus uses another illustration of Wine and Wineskins to explain the same thing. Wineskins are traditional containers made of goat skin where wines are stored. Old wineskin are containers that has expanded as a usage. So putting a new wine into an old wineskin will lead to the old container expanding more than its capacity which will cause it to burst!!! Don’t force Your Convictions on Fasting on others. Don’t tell them what they could not bear now(John 16:12). Don’t give them meat when they still need milk(Hebrews 5:12). If you want to preserve the New Convert,, put them in a new wineskin. May the Lord give us wisdom not to tear the New garments the Lord has given to us and not to waste the beautiful wine the Lord has brought across my path in Jesus name(Amen).
Dear Friend, As far as possible, keep your fasting secret. Do not brag about how often you fast, pray or spend in religious activities, let it be in secret always. Don’t use your own level of life as standard to judge other people’s lives. Don’t force your convictions on others. Advice and suggest but do not force. Lead them to grow up to the point where they personally Long for the presence of the Bridegroom and out of Devotion to Him, they choose to fast. May the Lord save us from behaving like the Pharisees or the Disciples of John in Jesus name (Amen). God bless you. Have a blessed day.
#Everyday with Jesus