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Let the new be new!

Rev Enoch Thompson | March 16, 2023 | Matthew 9:14-17


"¹⁶No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. ¹⁷Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Matt 9:16-17 (NIV)


Religious people know how to fast and love to fast. So, the disciples of John came to compare notes with the Lord on the subject of fasting. The Lord did not take away the importance of fasting; His disciples would fast after He had departed from them. The disciples of John and those of the Pharisees fasted often and were very strict about it. The other Gospels indicate that the question brought against Christ and His disciples was a joint effort of the disciples of John and those of the Pharisees (see Mark 2:18, see John5:33). It was an attempt to get the Jesus Movement to conform to what had become normal rigorous religious practice and formality. The Pharisees fasted at least twice a week and kept that as a regular rule. The disciples of John obviously followed the strict lifestyle of their leader as in Matthew 11:18. But the Lord Jesus led a more relaxed and liberal band of followers in the symbolic party of the Kingdom.

The Lord uses the discussion of the fast to raise a more important question; is the Kingdom message to be presented and followed as a new mode of life with its new expectations and directives, or was it to be seen as a version of old religions and religious mindsets? His point was that Christianity was to be held as a new teaching and way of life, separate and distinct from any other religious understandings and forms that might have been in existence before, or around the believer. Its power and its effects are like new wine and must be kept in new wineskins in order to be preserved.

The observation that the Lord and His disciples ate and drank often was not denied by the Lord. He had come to inaugurate the Kingdom of God, the feast to which all humanity was invited, and He symbolized that in His merry life. He indicated that in the period between His return to the Father (after His death and resurrection), and the future manifestation of that Kingdom, His disciples would fast. It was not therefore for the disciples of John and the Pharisees to determine the fasting timetable for the citizens of the Kingdom. Besides, if the disciples of the Lord fasted at any time it was not to follow the sombre mood that the disciples of John and the Pharisees did, for the Lord had asked His followers to hide their fasting from other people so that it would not appear to others that they were fasting.

Whereas the Kingdom life will use some forms of religious expression that had existed in the Old Testament and may correspond to traditional expressions of spirituality, we must be careful not to force Christianity to look like anything we have been used to. Otherwise, we destroy the old practices and take away the message and teaching of the new life of the Kingdom. New wine must be kept in new wineskins!


We are the new people of the new Kingdom of God. Let us understand and preserve the new doctrine and practices of the new life. The new wine of the Holy Spirit of God in us must be kept in a new life and new lifestyles that glorify God.


Lord, I acknowledge that I am religious and that there is so much religion around me. I do not just want to be religious; I want to be a Kingdom citizen, a faithful Christ-follower. Please help me, and all others like me, that we would be able to live the new life of the new Kingdom, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.



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