14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but thy disciples fast not?
15 And Jesus said unto them…
16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles and both are preserved. Matthew 9:14-17
It is doubtful if the disciples of John, in response to whom Jesus gave those proverbs of cloths and wine bottles, understood the import of His message.
For very long, the Pharisees and Sadducees had been at Jesus, so that He would join their prominent religious league. Once, they had demanded to know which of the popular theological ‘schools’ He belonged to. Then He had managed to answer Himself out of their nets (Matthew 21:23-27).
With time, it would appear, however, that they had wisened up to the situation. They began to use their allies, the disciples of John the Baptist, to try to get to Jesus the friend of John the Baptist.
In out text above, those disciples of John said to Jesus: “We and the Pharisees fast often…” (Good News). They had aligned with the Pharisees, those subtle opponents of Jesus. They fasted together; they reasoned together; and they did that very“often.” They saw things the same way - the popular Pharisaic way.
When the Pharisees eventually expired, they went out with them from spiritual relevance. Like the new piece of cloth of which Jesus spoke in His proverb, their new anointing faded away with the old Pharisaic cloth to which they had attached themselves.
In the very beginning, John the Baptist had publicly announced to the hearing of everyone that he himself, in spite of the honourable religious status accorded him by society, was a passing dispensation. He had told them all that Another was coming, whose forerunner he merely was.
Some of those who heard John say that were wise enough to soon begin to review their alliances. Soon as they had heard that announcement, two of John’s disciples began to follow Jesus. One of them was Andrew, who soon introduced his brother Peter to the Ministry of Jesus. The other is believed to have been John, the writer of the Gospel of John, who would not usually name himself in his writings (John 1:34-42).
While these moved over to align with God’s New Move through the life of Jesus, others of John’s disciples chose to follow the rich and influential religious and political leaders of the day. It may be that after John’s death, some of them became full-fledged Pharisees, whereas their other colleagues had joined with Jesus.
When you patch a piece of new clothe to an old cloth, the new patch stands out with its zealous and youthful newness. It is very admirably conspicuous, like a shinning lone star in a very dark night. But that glory does not endure. It lasts only for a while. When the big old patron-cloth is ruined, it disappears with it.
To carry some new anointing and patch it up to some ‘old cloth’ might initially appear to offer great promises. The prospects could be very intoxicating. But that glory never lasts. It is only for as long as the Pharisaic old cloth is fated to endure. Soon, the inevitable disaster of the old cloth becomes the tragic premature demise of the new.
Prince Jonathan the son of King Saul had become aware that his father was a passing dispensation; that David the rough and rustic youth was the New Move whom God was about to reveal upon the land (1 Samuel 20:15). Yet he went to war on the side of Saul, perhaps out of a sense of patriotism; perhaps out of filial obligation. He was never to return. He died ‘patriotically’ in battle with the rejected king.
Jonathan might have been alive to enjoy the fruits of all his laborious investments in the early days of David. But he burst in the old wineskin of his Dad, his new wine wasting in the sands of an unfortunate battle.
Considering your present alliances (which may be popular and powerful in the present), where would you be found in the next ten years? Would you, like those disciples of John, have gone with the Pharisees in the winds of time? Consigned to the dusty shelves of forgotten history? Or would you, like Apostle Peter and John the Beloved, be found bubbling with your New Wine in the Pentecostal New Bottle of a new dispensation? Would you, in that early morning of a new era, be found an amazing fresh wineskin bubbling with the New Wine of God’s fresh outpouring?
From The Preacher’s diary.