A Teachable Moment

HubPages How to Handle the Tattle Tale and the Tattling
HubPages
How to Handle the Tattle Tale and the Tattling

14 One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?”

15 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”  ~ Matthew 9:14-17 — NLT ~

When I read this passage, I think of children, who often compare their circumstances with those of others… For example:

“My mom makes me do the dishes, so why doesn’t your son/daughter have to do them?”

“My dad makes me take the trash out, so why don’t your children have to do it?”

Image Credit: Organic and Simple, That's Church!
Image Credit:
Organic and Simple, That’s Church!

You get the picture. Doesn’t it seem that way to you? Now, if I’m to be totally honest with you, comments like that are very irritating to me, and I used to get very impatient with my children when they would make petty comments like that. If John’s disciples had come to me with that question, I probably would have snapped at them and put them in their place… I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad I’m not Jesus…

Jesus was neither angry nor irritated with John’s disciples, even though they were complaining and criticizing His disciples. In fact, by criticizing His disciples for not fasting, John’s disciples were really criticizing Jesus, for not training His disciples properly. Yet Jesus took no offense from their accusations. Instead, He did something wonderful for them, whether they realized it or not.

You see, Jesus turned their accusations into a teachable moment. Rather than giving them a tongue-lashing, as I might have done, He spoke to them gently, and patiently. Instead of condemning them for having the audacity to question Him, He chose to teach them, and in lieu of telling them that it was none of their business, He explained why His disciples did not fast…

Bride Waiting for Christ15 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.  ~ Matthew 9:15 — NLT ~

Jesus’ response to John’s disciples was simple enough for everyone to understand. In fact, it was simple enough that even now, more than two thousand years later, it remains reasonable…

Women often cry at weddings, but the tears they shed are tears of joy, not sadness. At the wedding reception, there is usually a lot of laughter and fun, as people eat and drink in honor of the bride and groom. It’s supposed to be a time of merriment and celebration.

Jesus explained that His presence here on earth was in many ways, like the presence of the groom at his wedding.  Would you mourn at the wedding, as long as the groom was there? Of course not! Therefore, as long as Jesus was here on earth with His disciples, why should they fast and mourn? Besides, there would come a day, when Jesus, (our Groom) would no longer be here on earth with them, and there would be plenty of time to fast and mourn then…

Image Credit: Children Bible Studies
Image Credit:
Children Bible Studies

But this wasn’t the only lesson Jesus was teaching them that day, and perhaps this lesson He was teaching was not only for John’s disciples, but for His disciples as well, though many have always assumed the words He spoke were simply to those who questioned them. For just as a parent will teach not only the child who is asking such a foolish, perhaps even rebellious question, but will also teach a lesson to the obedient child as well, so Jesus did in this case…

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wine skins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”  ~ Matthew 9:16-17 — NLT ~

When a child first learns to read, would the teacher give the child “War and Peace,,” by Leo Tolstoy as a reading assignment? Of course not, because that would be much too difficult for the child to read, and it would only result in frustrating the child at the very least. At its worst, this assignment could cause the child to give up on reading altogether…

It was the same with the disciples. Several of these guys were fishermen, one was a tax collector and another was a zealot. None of these men were priests, prophets, Pharisees or Sadducees. These weren’t religious men, therefore, they weren’t used to submitting to various religious practices  like the Pharisees, Saducees, prophets and priests were. Also, many of John the Baptist’s disciples were likely Nazarites, just as he was, and since John often fasted, his disciples were used to living a “fasted” lifestyle, therefore, fasting was not as difficult for them as their complaints made it seem.

However, as I said before, Jesus’ disciples had a much different background than these other men, and for someone not used to fasting, it is quite difficult, which is why Jesus talked about patching old clothing with a new patch. To do so, would place too much pressure on the old cloth, thereby causing it to rip and tear. It is also why Jesus made the reference of placing new wine into old wine skins. Again, the pressure would cause the wine skins to burst, thereby rendering it useless. In the same way, to expect the disciples, who were untrained and undisciplined in fasting, and certain other religious practices, before they were ready, could cause them to break under the pressure, and perhaps render them useless.

Image Credit: 9 Dangerous Warning Signs of BURNOUT
Image Credit:
9 Dangerous Warning Signs of BURNOUT

It makes me sad sometimes, when I see a new Christian being put to work on various “projects” or committees, before they’ve had a chance to grow in the faith. For all too often, the majority will become burned out, and many will turn away from the Lord, going back to their old lifestyle that they’re used to…

When I became a mother, my baby was completely dependent on me for everything. He couldn’t even hold his own head up by himself. He needed me to support and protect him… He couldn’t feed himself. He needed me to provide his milk, and its source was from within me… He couldn’t communicate, except to cry. He needed me to understand his needs… He couldn’t get around by himself. I had to carry him everywhere…

In the same way, when a person is born again, whether they are a child or an adult, they are a babe in Christ, and just as a baby needs his parents to support him and protect him, so  a babe in Christ needs the Lord to lead other more mature believers to support him and protect him. Just as a newborn is unable to feed himself, so too, a new born again believer needs other, more mature believers to feed (teach) him on the word of God, and just as a newborn baby cannot eat steak, neither can a new believer digest more complicated doctrinal beliefs…

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment ~ 1 Peter 2:2 — NLT ~

12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. ~ Hebrews 5:12-14 — NLT ~

Furthermore, as a baby has a difficult time communicating his needs, a new believer also has a difficult time communicating and sharing his needs. The new believer hasn’t yet learned our language and our customs, therefore, he only knows how to respond to things the way he has always responded and communicated. And just as that baby needs his mommy to figure out what he needs, more mature believers and mentors are going to need to figure out what the new born again believer needs… 

When you look at this passage of scripture through these eyes, we begin to get a glimpse of Jesus’ great love and compassion for both His own disciples at the time, for John’s disciples, and for His future disciples, you and me. Praise God for these words of Jesus, which are always filled with love, grace and mercy!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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