At that time John’s disciples came and asked Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees frequently fast, but your disciples never fast?” Jesus responded, “The wedding guests can’t mourn while the groom is still with them, can they? But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they’ll fast. “No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes because the patch tears away the cloth and makes a worse tear. No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the wineskins would burst, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. Instead, people pour new wine into new wineskins so that both are kept safe” (Matthew 9:14-17, Common English Bible).
I think the analogy wouldn’t have been lost on Jesus’ listeners. As Jesus compares the new unshrunk cloth sown onto old clothes and old wineskins containing new wine, I think that John’s (the Baptist) disciples minds would have gone to the familiarity of Psalm 51. They would have heard Jesus’ words and thought about the words of the psalmist, “Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!” (Psalm 51:10, Common English Bible).
When I read today’s lesson that is where my mind goes. “Create a clean heart in me…” Just as the old wineskin couldn’t hold new wine without breaking, my old hardened heart can’t hold the new and right spirit Jesus also wants to place within me.
I also think Jesus’ analogy of the new cloth on the old garment carries a similar understanding. Placing new on the old would ruin both the patch and the garment. Jesus doesn’t want to simply fix what is broken, Jesus wants to make us new!
For the Pharisees and those who were John’s disciples, life was about the old covenant. The law only required one day of fasting per year. That was “The Day of Atonement,” or as we have heard of it, Yom Kipper. The Pharisees had increased this from one day a year to two days a week. But, it wasn’t really about a spiritual exercise. It was about showing the world how holy they lived.
For those who had come before him, life was about the old covenant. Jesus came bringing a new covenant. Jesus was bringing something new to place within us, a new spirit and that would require a new heart, a new life, just what the psalmist spoke of in Psalm 51.
I love the words to the praise song, “Change My Heart O God,” particularly the chorus.
Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You
“Change my heart Oh God…” “Create a clean heart for me…” Both sound a bit like a heart transplant. Both sound like I am getting something new, to hold something new, a new spirit, a new covenant.
How old are your wineskins?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved