Enjoying Jesus

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Prepare

What gives you joy? How would you rate your current ‘joy’ level in your relationship with the Lord?


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Bible passage Matthew 9:14–17


Jesus Questioned About Fasting
 14Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

 15Jesus 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. 17Neither do men 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."



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


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The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


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Serious fasting
The Pharisees and John and his followers took their relationship with God very seriously. Keeping the Old Testament law included fasting on specific days (see Leviticus 23:32). The Pharisees went one step further, fasting twice a week for good measure so they would be ready for God’s kingdom. John’s disciples imply Jesus’ disciples are not serious about God (v 14).

Jesus’ reply reminds them and us that a relationship with God is not about following rules and regulations but enjoying God for who he is.

Loving feast
Jesus’ reference to bridegrooms would have reminded John’s well-versed disciples of Isaiah 62:5 where God is compared to a bridegroom. Jesus’ point is clear: when God is present with you, enjoy him!

Jesus’ reference to wineskins and cloth signalled that God was doing something new. The shadow of the crucifixion lay ahead (v 15) but beyond that new truths would be revealed. When the Holy Spirit was poured out, like new wine, at Pentecost, God opened up a new way to be present with his people always (see Joel 2:28,29).


Respond


We have every reason to be joyful. The Spirit of the Lord has been poured out on all those who trust in Jesus. He is God’s presence with us, giving us new life. Praise God!

Penny Boshoff


Deeper Bible study


Grant me, O Lord, the will to embrace the new things you reveal to me and the wisdom to discern which of the old I must discard, and which retain.

Jesus was not against fasting, teaching that genuine fasting was between a person and God and not merely for show (Matthew 6:16–18). Fasting is essentially a spiritual exercise, a way of cultivating closeness to God, allowing time for meditation, prayer and spiritual growth unhampered by physical distractions. John and his disciples took their spiritual disciplines seriously and, as Matthew notes (Matthew 3:4), John himself was a disciplined ascetic. Jesus, however, makes a simple point. His disciples have no need to fast in order to approach him. He is already with them. One day he will not be physically present and then they will need to discipline themselves to find ways of communicating with him without distraction.

Jesus then talked of the old and the new. Mixing them is risky. His analogies of new patches on old garments and new wine in old bottles are often too simplistically interpreted. Christianity was indeed the new patch or the new wine and Judaism the old. It is often said that the old cloth or old bottle of Judaism simply could not bear the new cloth or contain the new wine of Christianity. This is a reasonable interpretation of Jesus’ words as Mark records them (Mark 2:21,22). We must, however, be fair to Matthew. He was saying something else (v 17). To Matthew, Christianity did not totally replace the past. Matthew had recorded Jesus’ words that he came not to abolish the Law but to fulfil it. We should expect no less from Matthew. He, of all the Gospel writers, saw the fulfilment of the Old Testament in every step that Jesus took, in every word that he spoke. All that was good and godly in the Hebrew scriptures had its endpoint in Jesus. To Matthew, Jesus was the fulfilment of prophecy, the longing of psalm and the goal of history.

John Harris


How to fast


Some aspects of Christian life that are clear from the Bible tend to be ignored in large parts of the Church. Fasting is one of them and it is the subject of much misunderstanding and bad practice.

So what do we need to know about fasting?

• It is not an alien practice. It has the support of both the Old and New Testaments, featured in the life and teaching of Jesus (Matthew 4:2; 6:16–18), and in the life of the early church (Acts 13:2).

• It is not a mark of spiritual superiority (Luke 18:9–14).

• It is not an attempt to persuade a reluctant God to fulfil our desires. That is more like manipulation or magic than prayer. Prayer is about relationship with God and discovering his mind rather than getting our way (Ezra 8:21–23; 2 Chronicles 20:2–4).

• It is a means of giving up certain things in order to give more time and spiritual energy to God (1 Corinthians 9:24–27).

• It is a demonstration of our priorities. It shows that we love God before other things and that we are serious about our spiritual life and about desiring him. As we put other things on one side we draw closer to him (Joel 2:15–17).

• It is an indication that we are serious about God, his way in the world and what we are praying about (Isaiah 58:5–7).
 
• It is not only about giving up food. There may be other things to give up too – hobbies, work, even sex (see 1 Corinthians 7:5).

• It is often associated with repentance, demonstrating sorrow for sin (Joel 2:12,13).


John Grayston

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Comments
  • Janet Webb | Monday, 05 February 2018

    Good morning everyone. I hope you have a blessed day.

  • Rachael Hampton | Monday, 05 February 2018

    Many people these days do a Daniel fast. Has anyone tried that? Wondering whether our modern ways of doing church in order to be culturally relevant are ‘new wine skins’ - though perhaps this term was only relevant for the fulfilling of the old law in the new covenant. Thank you very much Oakley, David, Jack and Hannah. I benefited from each of your comments, as I did from yours Ruth L. I hope Enyobi, amd others in the hot places, found encouragement from those posts.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Monday, 05 February 2018

    Prepare asks how we rate joy. When our heart is tethered to Jesus there is constant joy. We can't be more joyful with willpower but we can open up to Holy Spirit and let joy come from the inside. v16/17Jesus came to do a new thing (Isaiah 43:18-19, Jeremiah 31:31-34, and Hebrews 8:7-13) that would not mix with the Old Covenant ways that the people had been used to.The Old Testament laws could never stretch enough to accommodate the New Testament truths of mercy and grace.

  • Angela Munday | Monday, 05 February 2018

    We are new creations and made ready to live God's presence always; Jesus has shown us the way and speaks to us of what is acceptable to His Father in Heaven; 'Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.".....May God's will be preserved! We have been given advice for all everything we encounter; what joy! and AMEN, GILVIN.

  • Merlin Sheppard | Monday, 05 February 2018

    I am a new creation, no more in condemnation, here in the grace of God I stand. My heart is overflowing, my love just keeps on growing, here in the grace of God I stand. And I will praise You, Lord, yes I will praise You, Lord, and I will sing of all that You have done. A joy that knows no limit, a lightness in my spirit here in the grace of God I stand.

  • Hannah Watson | Monday, 05 February 2018

    I assumed the new wine in old wineskins was referring to our reborn selves not being able to put into our old bodies, we have to be born anew, ridding ourselves of our old selves, as the two aren't compatible, they can't exist together, they both are lost

  • Barbara Sabin | Monday, 05 February 2018

    Born of the Spirit with life from above into God's family divine, Justified fully through Calvary's love, O what a standing is mine! And the transaction so quickly was made, when as a sinner I came,Took of the offer, of grace He did proffer, He saved me, O praise His dear name! New wine does not belong in old wineskins. Christianity was birthed at Pentecost from Judaism, Martin Luther re - formed the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church birthed, John and Charles Wesley birthed the Methodist Church, William Booth concerned about the poor and marginalised preached the regeneration or remaking of the individual by the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. Pentecostalism renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Is it possible that new wine is new worship ? John 3 v 8 Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

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