Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 39
Matthew:9:14-17 Jesus Questioned About Fasting
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:9:9-13 The Calling of Matthew
What is God doing?
"No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment"
God is not mending what we already have, applying a patch to what is already there when it comes to HIS plan of salvation/redemption/sanctification/deliverance. What is already there is the Law. The Law spiritually is perfect for what is was made for: pointing us to our sin. If we hadn't the Law we would not know our sin. Now that we know our sin because of the fine work of the Law, now what? The Law gets us no further because the sin that still remains within us seeks still to distort the Law to it's own benefit. If we attempt to use the Law for what it is not meant to be used for we begin to see large gapping holes along the seams.
"Neither do men put new wine into old bottles"
How best for God's word to explain this difference and need for old and new? Man's deceptive heart is going to attempt to distort it no matter how it is that HE communicates it. The simplest and most unbendable terms seem best. There also needs to be both a timeliness and timelessness to the illustration. Of all the illustrative possibilities the Father choses to relay the picture of new wine in old bottles through HIS obedient messenger Jesus. This does not mean that the message will make perfect sense immediately without diligently seeking it out, it means that we are to be judged for not being honest enough with God to sincerely seek HIS intended meaning out. Do you think that you already know that intended meaning? How diligent you must have been to seek that truest meaning out.
"New wine into new bottles, and both are preserved"
Jesus earlier told us that HE did not come to destroy the Law or the prophets, that not one jot or tittle shall be removed. HE also declared that anyone teaching anyone else anything different would become the very least in heaven. Yet we know that old wine the Law only gets us to the point of seeing our desperate condition as it is in God's eyes, pouring into it the new wine messianic faith only bursts the old wine's sack. What then are the two preserved side by side intended by God to do?
Let's look closer into the context to see!
What is man doing?
"Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?"
One problem with the Law is that we make it rigid where it best serves us and not so rigid where it does not. Another problem is that it is used by us to judge others first before judging our own selves. There is that old debate too between meeting the letter of the Law verses the reaching the spirit of the Law; the proper discernment is diligently required but often lacking the most. Fasting alone never was meant to put one right with God nor was it intended to be the iron clad rule by which to properly judge others. Wasn't the more relevant commandment not to judge others by any standard other than what you would have them judge you by?
Please note that Baptist John's disciples are a curious group to be bringing this issue up. John himself has declared to them that Jesus is the confirmed promised one and yet this group is yet to believe John's own testimony. Okay, so my disciples for the time being because of my presence are allowed to not fast, but your disciples have yet to believe that I am "the one..." whom your professed master is "unworthy to fasten my sandal's buckle". Which thing here is the greater offense?
The earthly presence of Jesus at that time added a curious wrinkle to the proper discernment issue as well as what was the spirit of the law momentarily was different than at all other times. We should take note of this peculiar wrinkle as it is telling something of the fabric and the surface beneath. The key is that as soon as Jesus returns to His heavenly Father to the right side of HIS Throne the disciples of Jesus will be expected to go back to fasting. Jesus is thus claiming that His very presence is the fulfillment of the Law for His disciples. Besides are we fasting as reverence to the Law or are we fasting (etc..) for reverence to Jesus the fulfillment of the Law?
We should be doing all things as unto Him, but most often that is the thing that we are doing not.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
Keeping of the commandments is one thing. How and why they are kept is quite another. Are they being kept as a measuring stick to measure others? Are they being kept as a measuring stick to measure one's self? If so then our height is relatively equal, we both come up short. Are they being used to measure Jesus? Then there is no equal, His height is measured as perfect. The how and why are kept because of Him, in reverence to Him, in seeking the deeper contact and influence of Him upon us. Keeping of the faith is keeping Him squarely in the center of our lives lifted high above; not so remotely high though that we do not know that He is ever with us!
Next: devotion:Matthew:9:18-26 A Dead Girl and a Sick Woman