Saturday, January 30, 2010
1/20/10- Mt 9:10-17 New wine skins
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' [a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." 14 Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?" 15 Jesus 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. 17 Neither do people 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."
Calvin abridged: The scribes attacked Christ’s disciples trying to get them to rebel against him. It was as if they were asking, “What use is it that they should follow him, it he did not withdraw them from the majority of people to lead a holier life? Was he leading them into licentiousness and wickedness?” The disciples acted properly by going to their Master with the question. The scribes erred in two ways: 1) They misunderstood Christ’s purpose- he came to help the sick. The healthy sometimes look down on the sick, but a physician sees the sick differently.; and 2) they overlooked their own vices seeing only what they despised in others. To this Jesus replied that “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” We should not flatter ourselves that we are not sinners or “sick” ourselves. “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). The grace of Christ is no good to us unless we come to him humbly for mercy. John’s disciples were probably enticed to cause a division between them and Jesus disciples by the Pharisees. This is a warning to us to not let the wicked divide us over trivial differences. 15- “Can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?” This may be a reference to Jesus as the bridegroom by John (Jn 3:29). Fasting and extraordinary prayer are for hard times, but this is a time of joy. Then Christ gives two comparisons that contrast the disciples with a too-strict discipline. The meaning is that all should not be compelled to live in the same manner, as some are weak.
Thoughts: One of the main differences between Jesus and John is that John was encouraging the people just to repent, while Christ was trying to get them both to repent and to experience the joy of the kingdom. For Christ the “kingdom’s coming” is not just about wrath on the wicked, but also joy for the lost who are found. To try to make these disciples who had great joy- knowing the messiah has come to go back to a state of repentance and waiting on the messiah makes no sense. It is like taking what is better and trying to make it like the old just because it was old. It would be like trying to take away the hybrid Fords of today and say everyone needs to go back to model Ts. Some today long for the good old days and cannot appreciate the good in the present. Jesus did not criticize John’s repentance or say it was not necessary. He only indicates the present has something better.
Prayer: Help us, O God, to see your hand at work now. Keep us from worshipping the past, but help us to build on what others have done before us.