The New Patch

Matthew 9:14-17

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” NRSV

It is important to note who us asking this question of Jesus. It is John the Baptist’s disciples, the John who baptized and prepared the way for Jesus.

John’s disciples wanted to know why Jesus was not committed to the old ways? Jesus made it clear that the spiritual life and energy God was bringing into the world through him could not be contained by the religious status quo.  While this is a pretty radical statement on Jesus’ part, it is also a very pastoral one. Jesus did not come to tear down the Jewish faith he inherited. Jesus was bringing something new into the world that expanded that faith beyond its historical containers.

We must always be prayerfully asking God to help us make room for whatever new thing God is doing, new life God is giving, and new spiritual energy that God is pouring out in our midst? In other words, can we joyfully welcome God’s new wineskins? Or will we only allow a new, unshrunk patch to be sewn on our old cloaks? According to Jesus, that doesn’t end well for the old cloak.

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