February 18

Matthew 9:15-17 15Jesus 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. 17Neither 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.

John's disciples asked why they and the Pharisees fasted but Jesus' disciples didn't. Jesus' reply used a wedding analogy. When there is a wedding, the guests are expected to join a feast. Jesus has come to take a bride, the church. He is calling out people from the world to be His own. While He is among them, they should be rejoicing. He predicts that He will be taken away, and then they will fast.

Then He jumps to another analogy. Jesus could use analogies to say things that He could not say directly. It caused the hearers to think more deeply and not be as readily offended. The analogy of wineskins is one that we have a hard time relating to. The new skin was soft and flexible. It expanded with the wine as it fermented. After the fermentation, it began to harden into the shape it had stretched into. If you tried to reuse it for new wine, it would burst and the wine and the skin would be wasted. The Pharisees and John's remaining disciples had conformed to the Old Covenant. The rules and structure of the Law had shaped their container. Jesus had come to establish the New Covenant. Had they tried to make the transition now, they would do distort the truth and act against their conscience.

Some of the Pharisees and John's disciples did make the transition. They were still flexible. Their ideology had not hardened yet. It was too late for some. They no longer had a teachable spirit or an open mind. They thought they knew the fullness of truth and would not receive anything that did not fit the hard container of their limited understanding. Stay flexible! The one way to do that is to remember the many times you have been wrong. Jesus has many things to teach us, doctrines to adjust, and attitudes to transform.

Consider: Humility is the best wineskin preservative.