Jesus is confronted by some John the Baptist's disciples who asked Him why His disciples don't fast like they do. Something that making me think a little more about these verses is the very definition of disciple. Basically, a disciple meant that that person did everything that their Rabbi did. If the Rabbi took his sandals off, the disciples took their sandals off. If a Rabbi ate bread the disciples ate bread. And if the Rabbi fasted, the disciples fasted. So, I wonder if in their questioning Jesus about His disciples' practices they were actually questioning Jesus's practices. I really don't know if that is what they were doing, but given what a disciple was you could see how they may have been questioning Jesus. But notice that Jesus's answer back to John's disciples wasn't harsh; He didn't point His finger at them saying, "Well, maybe you fast too much!" Instead, He pointed out that there was a time and a place for fasting, and at this point the time had not come to pass for His disciples.
The other thing is that earlier in Matthew, Jesus had informed His disciples to be private about their fasting (Matthew 6:16-17), so they may have been fasting and it just didn't appear so. This is such a good reminder to all of us that it is not our job to judge whether or not someone is close to God because so much of that is private. Jesus then talks about new patches on old clothing and new wine in old wine skins. This is an interesting reply, isn't it? His message wasn't about the rules that we had to follow, but His message was about where we place our faith and Who we believe. The word Jesus used for "new" when referring to the wine is neos. This word means new; however, the definitions listed first are: recently born, young, youthful (see footnote 1.) Could He be saying that such practices were not meant for those young in their faith? The word Jesus used referring to the "new cloth" was agnaphos, which means unmilled, unfulled, undressed, unprocessed, or new (see footnote 2.). The rules were not made to be a burden; we are tried over time and find ourselves following such practices as we grow in our walk with God. So we are to only look at our own walk and do what God is leading us to do and not focus on what others are doing in their walk.
Are you focusing on the rules or the walk? Are you focusing on the Holy Spirit's guidance in your own life, or are you watching others?
This post is linked with Word Filled Wednesday.
1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for neos (Strong's 3501)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 21 Nov 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
2. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for agnaphos (Strong's 46)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 21 Nov 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?