“The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.””
Mark 2:18-22 NKJV
One of the dangers of coming to faith in Jesus, is that there is a tendency to try and apply old worn out methods to the the new relationship. Rituals are present when there is no relationship, for we find ourselves doing things that we think will please God. We are locked in a guessing game, for we have so departed from the word of God, that we have no real awareness of His will.
When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees regarding the lack of fasting on the part of HIs disciples, the was being confronted by people who were no longer seeking after God, and had replaced relationship with ritual, for the did what they thought was holy, but their hearts were far from God.
“Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,”
Jesus was confronted by those Isaiah had foretold of, who had long ago traded the word of God for their own methods and traditions, more amenable to their own appetites, having no regard for the holiness of God.
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ””
Matthew 15:7-9 NKJV
The Pharisees expected the disciples to carry on the same charade, for they were completely blind to how far they had fallen. Unlike them, the disciples had God in their midst, for they were in direct relationship with Jesus. They were doing a new/old thing, for the word neglected now walked amongst them.
As followers of Jesus, born again and saved from sin, we have been made new creations, robed in new garments, made white by the blood of the lamb. We are as new wineskins, flexible, stretchable, and comfortable to new wine.
That is to be the heart of the new born believer.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
The Pharisees were the old wineskins, known according to the flesh, but not walking according to the Spirit. They were counterfeits, whose holiness was based in what they defined it to be.
The disciples were new wineskins, with no ecclesiastical histories to weigh them down. They were in the presence of their Lord, enjoying the good part, soaking up His presence and absorbing HIs teaching. There would come a time when ritual would be needed, for He would be gone away. But in that moment they sought the good part.
I think of Martha, running about trying to make all the arrangements for the gathering when Jesus visited. Her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to His teaching.
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.””
Luke 10:38-42 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us be like the Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, getting the good part. The disciples used every moment to seek after the Lord for He was with them, because of Him, He built into them a craving for relationship.
The Lord documented this in His word, for He knew that we would be facing a world that would seek to come between Himself as us, and that it would seek to move us backwards to the ritual, to the dead tradition, in the desire to severe that living relationship with Jesus.
But we have the Holy Spirit.
Unlike the Pharisees, who were absent from their relationship with God, we have the benefit, the necessity of God in us. We have His word and we have the fellowship of the saints. Let us endeavor to seek after the Lord daily, that our wineskins remain conditioned, that we contain the new wine of our salvation, and none of it be spoiled.
We are surrounded by Pharisees, those who have replaced relationship with ritual, having not the power of God, but only conjured up man made emotions. In the coming season of clarification we will need the Lord, a close relationship with Holy God.
Our strength will come from the Lord, the everlasting God!
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV
Let us remain focused on what is of God and not of man, knowing what the disciples knew: we are walking with God.
HAVE A BLESSED LORD’S DAY!