Lord, teach us not to cling to an old outdated system.
Read LUKE 5:33–39
Jesus Questioned About Fasting
33 They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
New International Version (NIV)
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“When I found the truth, there I found my God who is the truth… Since the time I learned thee, thou abidest in my memory; and there I ﬁnd thee” (Augustine of Hippo, 354–430).
After Jesus’ ascension, the ﬁrst Christians felt the need for structure and attention to prayer and meditation, including fasting. Jesus’ words are important here.
Fasting under the old covenant belonged to a system that was incompatible with Jesus’ extension of God’s grace to the socially outcast. In a sense, we are all “tax collectors and sinners” (30). In Jesus’ new society, there are only two classes: those who accept his invitation and those who don’t (Luke 14:15–24). As the old prophets may have sensed, obedience to the legalistic old covenant would never be enough. The old covenant could not be rejuvenated by patching it up. Only a totally new covenant could bring us to God, “written… not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:3; cf. Jer. 31:33).
The church ﬁnds new wineskins to be a challenge. The early church struggled with the problem of those who wanted to use the new as a mere add-on, to patch up the old operating system (Acts 15:1–29; Gal. 6:12). It is one thing to believe in the wine of the new covenant in Jesus’ blood. It is another thing to develop new and relevant wineskins: churches capable of holding the new wine. “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins” (37,38).
Have we lived so long in our “old” respectable lifestyles that we have lost sight of Jesus’ invitation to a despised and unclean tax collector to follow him? Have we forgotten the hands which touched the man with leprosy? Are we no longer as willing as Jesus to socialize with the outcasts of society? Do we prefer our old over the new?
Help us, O God, to be the people of Your new covenant, seeing people as Jesus saw them, embracing those whom society rejects.
Lord, we know not to patch up the garment of the old covenant with a patch of the new, but rather we are willing to live totally in the new.