Reading through the Bible together

Monday, November 10, 2014

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Jesus mingled with sinners. He was a friend of robbers, prostitutes, drunkards, and tax collectors. In fact, he was frequently seen feasting with them. First century pious teachers of the law considered these actions outrageous.

Here, in Matthew 9 we read how the disciples of John the Baptist approached Jesus and asked Him a question that had disturbed them: “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” (Matthew 9:14)

You see, fasting in Judaism of Jesus’ day was a sign of mourning the present world and longing for the future coming of God’s kingdom. It was a way to humble oneself and pray for mercy and deliverance from the Roman oppressors. So, it is not surprising that religious leaders were puzzled to see Jesus preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven but at the same time feasting with tax collectors and sinners instead of fasting as leaders were expected to do.

Jesus responds to the question with a parable that may sound confusing: “No one sews a piece of new un-shrunken cloth on an old garment; . . . Nor is new wine put into old leather wine-skins,....” (Matthew 9:16–17).

Here Jesus is making two clear points. Firstly, by cutting out a piece of cloth from a large new piece and sewing it into old cloth, you will not help the old one and have damaged the new larger piece. And secondly, by putting new wine into old wine-skins the wine-skins will burst and the good wine will be lost.

In the first statement we see that by taking just bits and pieces of Jesus’ teachings and His actions we miss the whole. In other words, it is impossible to take only what we like about Jesus and His teachings and fit them into our old ways of thinking. We have to take entirely what Jesus said or not at all.

The second statement is even more dramatic - try to fit Jesus’ new works and His teachings into the old ways of living and thinking and you’ll get an explosion.

As we see in this passage, Jesus presents a very important teaching for all of His disciples. When Jesus comes to eat at your house and you really take His teachings to heart, you will inevitably start living out a new life. You will experience the change of your old patterns of thought and your entire life will have a new meaning.

Oleg Kostyuk
Host of Cross Connection
Hope Channel