A Real Life Not a Patched Up Religion: Matthew 9:14-17

A real life promised by Jesus, in this section, he compares reasons for fasting. He implies to his disciples that he will give them a deeper relational purpose for fasting in the future. In contrast, he will not impose fasting on them as an ascetic, traditional, religious practice. Again his focus in on the inner life, not on adhering to external forms. He promises a real life not a new form theology.

Matthew 9:14-17

Then John’s disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn while the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days are coming when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, because the patch will pull away from the garment and the tear will be worse.  And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved. Read in Net Bible for notes  Matthew 9:14-17

Real Life Concept of God a Benefit of Fasting

Fasting has benefited me most in that it has given me a deep sense of need for God; an experience that I need him more than air, food, or water. The disciples would know this need soon, but at this moment, they still had Jesus with them. As I have gained this sense of need through fasting, I have also grown in my sense of his presence.

The old wine skins and old garments representing the law are not to be patched or filled with newness; they must be completely remade.

In the same way, God does not intend to patch up my life; I must be completely remade. He intends to give me a real life. If I view following Christ as simply patching up a life that I believe is pretty much okay, then I am not ready to follow him. In order to experience the real life, the real relationship with him, requires I submit to his total transformation. Only in this way can I receive real life and relationship with him; otherwise I live as just another religious person and will likely become a victim of the teachings of the Pharisees.

A Patch Job does not Give me a Real Life

A patch up job keeps my life built on sand and will lead to disaster, a bigger tear, or a burst life. Jesus does not want a partial commitment nor does he want a part of my life. He wants it all, and in exchange he will give me a real life and more than I ever knew was possible. It seems counterintuitive, but if I will accept the real life that Jesus offers, and believe that he will give me the power to live it, then what he offers is not burdensome. He promises in Matthew 11:30  ‘For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.’ A patched up religion brings the burdensome list of dos and don’ts. The real life is a new state of being.

A Measure for the Real Life

In fact I can use Matthew 11:30 and the peace described in Psalm 131 as measures of if I am living this real life that Jesus promises. If I don’t have it, then I’m living a patched up religion. Read The Try Hard Life vs. My Yoke is Easy.

A patched up religion like most eclectic (selecting the parts I like best) pursuits is about me arranging my life to suit myself. At the core of eclecticism is pride. If pride exists, peace will be far away, Proverbs 13:10, 1 Timothy 6:4. Confession and submission offer a way back from this mess.

The real life Jesus offers screams blasphemy to the eclectic, pluralistic world which glorifies seeking new experiences and elevates tolerance to a religion. As a modern idol, tolerance elevates pride and selfishness to the statuses of virtue. I may give my pride and selfishness a religious god glaze, but this does not impress God. God will accept us wherever we are, but he intends to give us a real life, and that means handing our pride and selfishness over to him.

Questions

  1. Do my religious practices satisfy me or God?
  2. What do I think about the most? What insight does this give me about my relationship with God?
  3. Is my church experience primarily about what I want? What music I like? What sermons I like to hear? Are these choices a source of strife? Why might this be a problem?
  4. How might my life be different if I were willing to have a new life and new wineskins? What do I fear giving up? Is the loss of what I fear losing worth rejecting a life of peace, an eternity of peace?
  5. Does my religion bring me peace? Why do I practice it? Do I experience a relationship with Jesus in my life? Do I have a real life? If I don’t, all I have to do is ask.
  6. Can I find real life with an eclectic approach to religion?

Passage for Meditation

They pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. Matthew 9:17b

Prayer

May I never elevate any tradition to the level of one of your commands. May I submit my total life to you in obedience and ask you to remove any personal tastes, ambitions or and conveniences that are obstacles to our relationship.

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