Journey Through Matthew: Sinners and Wineskins Part II
Well, good evening and welcome back!
Tonight we are going to pick up right where we left off this morning talking about Sinners and Wineskins.
If you would like to start finding it in your Bibles, tonight we will be reading from , verses 14-17.
And of course this morning we discussed in detail the calling of Matthew, and more importantly Matthew’s willingness to obey God and follow Christ.
We also talked about how Jesus didn’t fit the Jewish mold that they were trying to get him to fit.
And because the Jews didn’t think Jesus fit their mold, or their idea of what the Messiah would be, they completely missed the boat with Jesus.
Instead of following and obeying Jesus, they rejected and plotted to kill him.
All because Jesus was really making them look bad.
He was showing them what true love and true righteousness really looked like.
He was doing awful things like healing the sick, helping the poor, forgiving sins, and worst of all eating with tax collectors and sinners.
Jesus was looking at the heart of these people and not their outward appearance.
Jesus was able to see past the sin that entangled them and see the actual person, who’s heart longed for a relationship with God.
And the reality is, people today are not so different than they were in Jesus’ day.
We see all the crazy and strange things people do in their lives, and there is a reason behind a lot of it.
People in our world today are so entangled and so engrossed with sin that they have become blind to the truth of God’s Word.
People realize that their is a huge gaping hole in their soul and they are desperately trying to fill that hole.
They are honestly looking for God and just don’t know what to call who they are looking for.
Which is precisely why we are to share the love of Christ with others.
When God opens up the door and gives us the opportunity to share Christ with others, we are faced with a choice.
Will we walk through or will we ignore it?
Will we be obedient to God or will we act like the Jews here?
Their problem was that they had their mind made up that they knew exactly how things were to be done and exactly what the Messiah looked like, how the Messiah was going to act that they had no idea who Jesus was.
Their soul was telling them that this was the Son of God but they ignored their soul because it didn’t fit their narrative.
They had replaced relationship with rules.
They had replaced Transformation with Tradition.
And if we are not very, very careful, we will do the exact same thing.
Which is exactly what Jesus is going to address here in the next section.
So, if you have found in your Bible, I’d invite you stand with me as I read verses 14-17.
Matthew writes . . . .
14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. 16 “No-one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither 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.”
Who Are “John’s Disciples?”
Who Are “John’s Disciples?”
Now, this starts out a little strange to some people because in verse 14, is says, then John’s disciples came and asked him . . .
And you have to stop and say, “wait a minute, I thought everyone was a disciple of Jesus?”
Yes, that is true we are all Disciples of Christ (and not the denomination) but we are all followers of Christ.
To understand what the Bible is translating we have to understand what the word disciple means.
We understand disciple as it’s primary meaning of a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles
However, disciple also means, a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.
And that is exactly what John was.
He was a teacher and and leader, and I guess you could even say somewhat of a philosopher.
But what we are seeing here is the first evidence of church growth based on multiplication.
John accepted and followed Jesus.
And then John went out to tell others about Jesus and he amassed a following of people who followed him because they too wanted to learn about Jesus.
So, they were John’s disciples in this sense but they were first disciples of Jesus and second disciples of John by extension.
And we are the same.
Think back to the people who first introduced you to Jesus and molded your understanding of Jesus.
They impacted and influenced your relationship with Jesus and much of what we all believe today is based on what those early mentors and leaders taught us about Jesus.
We are all disciples of Jesus but we are also influenced by those who have taught us about Jesus.
And to be honest, some of what we have been taught by others has been good and some maybe not so good.
Because if we think about it, here we are looking at the first generation of Christians and they were even confused about some of the finer points of Christianity.
We are over 2000 years removed and we know what we have been taught, and those who have taught us know what they were taught by the generation before, and so on and so on.
So, there are bound to be mistakes made over time.
Which is I would say we need to be very, very careful about ALL of our traditions and always weight them against what the Bible actually says.
And we should never be too quick to judge the traditions of another denomination either, because they are in the same boat we are.
But John’s disciples here come to Jesus with a question that has puzzled them . . .
14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Which is a valid question.
We sort of ask the same type of questions ourselves about other Christians, don’t we?
Why does denomination A think we should fast 3 days a week but denomination B, not so much.
Is denomination A any better than B?
Maybe they are “more holy.”
Or, why does Church A cancel when the weather is bad but Church B stays open regardless.
Nobody said anything to me but I’m sure some thought that.
Maybe Church B is more holy?
Or, why does Church A have contemporary music while Church B only traditional?
Is Church B more holy because of it?
Folks, all of these things are traditions.
We have traditions and every other church in the country has traditions.
And it is okay to have traditions.
We do things the way we do them because we like it and because we feel like it helps our relationship with God grow.
And the key word here is helps.
Our traditions do not determine our relationship with God any more than our name does.
Whether we have a relationship with God or not is determined by whether or not we have put our faith in Jesus Christ or not.
Period, end of discussion.
Now, the health of that relationship is enhanced by all the things we do that helps that relationship grow and develop.
Which is where our tradition come into play.
And also is where John’s disciples here got confused.
They had borrowed the tradition of fasting from the Jews and continued on with it.
Which goes hand in hand with Christianity being the completion of Judaism.
Fasting did not detract from following Christ, and really only enhanced it, so they determined that it was a good tradition and kept doing it.
In fact, at that point, they continued following all of the Jewish traditions and enhanced them with belief in Jesus as the Messiah.
So in their mind, they felt that the disciples that were directly with Jesus should be fasting too.
And they also felt that Jesus’ disciples here were not as “holy” or not as “good” as they were because they weren’t even following all of the tradition.
And if we looked really, really close, I think we may find that in our time of following Jesus we may have been guilty of the same thing at times.
A little bit of pride sort of snuck in.
A little bit of “I’m doing better than so and so” attitude.
A little bit of “look at what I am doing…boy I am so holy!”
We may have never said a word and may have never acted on it one bit, but we thought it.
It was in our heart.
So, we had better be careful because tradition can be very situational.
Look at what Jesus tells them here . . .
15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
And Jesus tells them that is not the time to fast.
Think about it, fasting is denying ourselves of something in anticipation for what is to come.
We fast from food to focus on God and how God provides and blesses us.
We deny ourselves food so that we can be fed with the spiritual food.
Jesus was right there with them, physically present.
He was already feeding their soul.
There was no purpose or need for them to be fasting.
The ones that were, were simply doing it to satisfy tradition and it really didn’t even have any meaning behind it.
They were just doing it because everybody else was.
And Jesus is sort of comparing it here to a banquet.
When the feast is before us and has been prepared for us, why would we not partake?
That doesn’t make a lot of sense.
It was not the right time.
But eventually the feast would be over and then would be the time to fast.
Because Jesus would be gone and fasting would be a means of being spiritually fed by the Holy Spirit.
And this is how we should look at our traditions as well.
We shouldn’t do things just because . . .but we do.
Everything we do should have meaning and purpose behind it.
But we tend to get stuck in the same old routine, week after week.
And the first time someone suggests that we do something different or change anything, we brand them a heretic and claim they are trying to divide up the Church.
Now, some new things are not such good ideas.
Because they do not fit with the people, but we need to all be able to listen to the ideas and then decide.
And the first thing it needs to be weighed against is not the denomination or the church, but rather the Bible.
And we shouldn’t be passing judgement on the Christian next to us or the church down the road because their traditions are not the same as ours.
Because if it does not contradict with God’s word or detract from a relationship with Jesus, it’s really none of our business.
So, we need to think about that before we start turning our noses up at others.
New Patches and New Wineskins
New Patches and New Wineskins
Now, next here it almost looks like Jesus changes directions completely, because he says . . .
16 “No-one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither 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.”
And this isn’t a different concept Jesus is trying to teach them.
He is just trying to get to them to understand his point, which is following Him is not meant to be a patch over the old traditions of Judaism.
Jesus is offering them a brand new reality.
Sacrifices were a patch, Jesus was the solution.
Jesus is the completion, not a stop-gap patch.
And it is trying to explain to them that patches fail.
Remember what Paul says . . .
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
We can’t just patch up the old self. It will fail.
We have to be made 100% entirely new in Christ.
We are a new garment.
We are a new wineskin.
And our relationship with God is not determined by our traditions.
Our relationship with God is determined by our relationship with Jesus.
And tonight, that is what I would like for us to focus on .
Our relationship with Jesus.
Maybe you are here tonight and you realize that you have been basing your relationship with God on your traditions.
If that is the case we need to change that.
Maybe you are here and realize that your attitude toward other Christians is not what it should be.
You have been dismissive and pessimistic toward them.
God can change that as well.
What I would like for us to do is take some time and think about and reflect tonight.
Reflect on what your relationship with God is really like.
Is it based on Jesus or something else?
Because if it is anything other than Jesus, it’s not going to work.
So, take a few minutes and just reflect tonight.
If you would like to come to the altar come, otherwise everyone bow your heads and go to the Lord where you are.