Readings: Luke 5: 33-39
How often do we find ourselves much like the Pharisees, criticizing others regarding their spiritual activities rather than focusing on our own? The Pharisees  questioned Christ as to why his disciples don’t fast while they fasted. The disciples were all common men with common occupations whom Christ chose to carry out his Fathers work. They weren’t Levites or of any priestly order. To explain it further Jesus gives two examples one of wine and wineskins and the other of the old and new cloth. I doubt that even the disciples themselves understood what Jesus meant at that time as all three (Luke, Mark & Matthew) narrate this incident in the exact same manner with no variations or personal interpretations.
What Christ meant was as it is in the case of wine and wineskins, that if new wine is poured in old wineskins it bursts the skin and the wine spills out, similarly with our spiritual life God wants us to be patient and allow him to take over so that he can slowly chip away all our imperfections and mould our body so that it can handle the spiritual wine that He wants to pour in us. He also adds that everyone prefers the old wine to the new one. Even after receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we need to build on them and use them for the extension of his kingdom. The passage also shows how patient Jesus was with his disciples, in the same manner, we need to be patient with our friends and family and let God take over. It’s a long process and we can’t expect our new-believer friends to change in a week or two. Moreover, we need to take the example of the old wine, the older the wine the better it is and apply it in our own life. There is no saturation point in this process.
Jesus fasted for 40 days and waited 30 years to begin his ministry. But when the time came he did not waste any time. As soon as he returned to Galilee after his long fast and the trails he went through, he began the work His father had sent him to do, preaching in synagogues, healing people driving out demons…..
On the other hand, the rash behaviour of Moses sent him into exile for forty years when he killed an Egyptian for attacking his countryman. He did not wait for the time appointed by God for him to lead Israel out of Egypt and his anger got the best of him. But still, God chose him and gave him all that he needed including a personal orator in the form of Aaron to lead Israel to the promise land. It took forty years to cover a journey of a mere three and a half years. Even in the desert, God was preparing them. So to anyone who asks how long should I wait? the above example would be a real eye-opener. One thing we need to know is that God in his sovereign will give us the right amount and at the right time when He sees it best.
Now coming back to the disciples, after Christ’s work on this earth was finished the disciples were left to carry his ministry forward and fasted and prayed for forty days till the Holy Spirit came upon them on the day of the Pentecost. Immediately they started the work appointed to them without wasting any time. In saying that His disciples will fast when the time comes, Jesus was right and they actually did much more than just fast for Him.
Are we ready for that type of commitment on our part? Do we have the patience to let God prepare our hearts? These are the things that we should be concerned about rather than focusing on how others fair in the sight of God.