No one, on their own, favors the new over the old that they know and love. We are hardwired to think that the old is better. A case in point from my own life is the cartoon Transformers. I grew up watching this cartoon and loved watching “Optimus Prime” and his “autobots” routinely battle the “decepticons.” It was good, clean action. When the Hollywood movies came out a few years ago I was extremely disappointed. (I am well aware that for most people reading this a “transformer” is something one finds on a telephone phone pole J. Nevertheless, the point is still valid, namely, This was not what I grew up with! )The old was so much better.
In Matthew 9:14-17 the same point is being made. Some folks ask Jesus why his followers are not fasting, since that seems to be the religious thing to be doing. Jesus responds by proverbially saying that one cannot put new wine into old wineskins. (In Luke’s version he adds that any who have tasted the old wine will always prefer it over the new). What did he mean by this?
He meant that with His coming everything has changed. Everything is new. He meant that He is the center of everything. What the people needed to understand was that fasting, and everything else, was instituted as a sign that ultimately points to Jesus in some way. The Old Fasting signified mourning and you cannot mourn when Jesus is in your midst. When Jesus is in your midst you must celebrate! The old ritual must take on the new meaning that the Son gives it. Christians still fast today, but the meaning is different. We fast today to say, “We long for you to come Lord Jesus! So much that we go without food for a time to punctuate our longing!”
It is such an encouragement to know that many participated in the “Fall Fast: hungering for God’s 20/20 vision for 2011”. I hope you experienced a measure of this “new” kind of fasting as you sought the Lord. Even if you did not why not make 2011 a year in which fasting becomes a common spiritual discipline in your life. What a joy it will be to belong to a people who love the Giver more than His gifts and demonstrate that both individually and in our corporate life.