Last night, at small group, we discussed this passage:
33They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."
34Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."
36He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.' "
I will be the first to tell you I have never understood this passage. It's one of those that I make a mental note to return to and never get back to. But I am so very thankful that the Lord equipped our small group leader to make this passage oh so clear. And this is basically what I understood:
Jesus calls us to a new relationship. Fasting was a spiritual discipline that was used typically in times that were not celebratory, but Jesus was calling His disciples to celebrate with Him, the bridegroom, while He was on earth. That part was always easy to understand...it's the wineskins and garments deal that was like a different language.
So I apologize if my explanation is poor, but here goes: Taking a piece from an new garment and using it to mend an old garment ruins both garments, because the new is left with a hole, and new piece will shrink when washed, thus tearing away from the "mended" garment. They're both ruined.
A wineskin stretches as the new wine ferments. Putting new wine into a well-stretched wineskin will burst the skin. So it ruins the wineskin and the new wine.
Okay, got it. But how does that apply to me?
I think this passage is about leaving that old life and Jesus bringing new life to restore our relationship with God.
But also, He's concerned with the day to day.
There are old systems in my life that need changing. Just like the Pharisees had a very rigid, legalistic way of doing things, I have a set way of going about life. But I desire a new, full way of life. The things is, I go about it by just wishing that my life would change and that it would change while I maintain the status quo. And I don't want to say, "The old is better," like the Pharisees would say. I can't do the old things and have the new life.
There are so many areas in my life where this applies:
I can't continue speaking to my students the same way and expect their behavior to change.
I can't continue to leave my clothes out and expect an organized closet.
I can't continue my old ways of interacting with my husband and expect our relationship to be different.
I can't continue to skim over Bible passages and spend 5 minutes in prayer and expect my relationship with the Lord to grow.
I know this list could go on and on...and believe me, this day has been full of those areas. But it's also been a full day. My relationship with my students today was wonderful. My teaching was engaging. Joel and I had great conversation while walking at the lake.
Change is possible...but I know that I need to make room for the new thing that the Holy Spirit is doing.