When I fast, it is usually for spiritual reasons seeking God’s wisdom for concerns that are weighing heavy on my heart. Although, I have discovered recently it is physically good for the body to renew itself. (No, I’m not selling a new diet plan!) I withhold food and only drink liquids concentrating on serious conversations with God throughout the day and into the night. As I do this, I am reminded of what Jesus said about fasting; “Don’t let others know you are doing it”, “Don’t call attention to yourself”. This is between God and myself.
In Jesus’ day, the religious, full of pride, self-righteous, and arrogant elite would take off their regal robes and put on sack cloth, go to the public square and throw ashes on themselves and proceed to act like martyrs. It was “show and tell” time of how religious they were. Mm, I wonder how that was received by common folk who scratched out a living, merely surviving on one meal a day at best?
Jesus is asked why he and his disciples don’t fast according to Jewish tradition. His answer probably confused them. The reason we fast today is to lay down all that sustains us to seek the God of answers to what is troubling us and to fill ourselves with all of God to receive it. The religious leaders apparently forgot that. God is with them, standing in the flesh as Jesus Christ, His Son! They don’t have to fast to seek Him, to hear Him, to touch Him and learn the answers to life through fasting…He is right there!
Yes, there is no need for the leaders to fast to seek God. What is needed is to open their minds to learn from Jesus, open eyes to see the glory of God in Him with opened ears to hear and understand what He is saying! He is right there! Hello! Celebrate! Worship at His feet! Follow Him wherever He goes. Imitate what He does and how He does it! But most religious leaders did not.
Jesus has come with new life! It’s a new day! It’s a new way of life when we seek Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV) That’s why Jesus goes on to give another seemingly baffling analogy of wineskins that would have made sense to wine producers of His day. Let’s break it down…
We shouldn’t try to fit Jesus into our old life. That would be the most stressful life we could imagine! Jesus wants all of us, not just part of us. Jesus’ abundant life will not fit into your old life of thinking and behaving. Jesus can’t be poured into our old, worn out “skin”, stretched to the limit with the effects of sin! When we repent and believe in Jesus, we are brand new creatures. We leave the old skin behind and are given a new skin!
All of Jesus is poured into our new life, our new skin, filled to the brim, able to stretch and grow in God’s might and character. In our new skin, Jesus will fill us to overflow with His Holy Spirit’s power that transforms us with a new lifestyle that will brim with His love, goodness, mercy and grace. No, we just can’t fit Christ into the our old “skins”. Christ wants to fill us with new life, discarding the old life behind in the trash heap of our former sin-selves.
Warren Wiersbe, Commentator, explains the analogy this way;
“Jesus came to bring spiritual health to sick sinners. As the Bridegroom, He came to give spiritual joy. The Christian life is a feast, not a funeral. The illustration of the cloth reminds us that He came to bring spiritual wholeness; He did not come to “patch us up” and then let us fall apart. The image of the wineskins teaches that He gives spiritual fullness. Jewish religion was a worn-out wineskin that would burst if filled with the new wine of the gospel. Jesus did not come to renovate Moses or even mix law and grace. He came with new life!”
NEW WINESKINS OF FAITH
Jesus came to fulfill The Law with a new way of life that did not negate God’s commands but instead gave new understanding to what God intended all along—a loving, intimate, growing relationship with Him! Christ in us, approaching God at any time! Yes!
Matthew—The Law Fulfilled
Matthew 9:14-17, NLT
A Discussion about Fasting
14 One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?”
15 Jesus replied, “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.
16 “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.
17 “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.”
Abba, Father in Heaven,
I am humbled that the God of Creation knows my name, the number of hairs on my head, and knows all my sin but loved me enough to send Your Son to save me, forgive me, remembering my sins no more while making we whole and brand new! No patches but made new! This is amazing grace! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
In Jesus Name, Amen