If You Miss The Point, You Will Miss The Purpose
Have you ever just barely missed the point? But in barely missing the point, you completely miss the purpose. We have a powerful illustration today in the parable we are looking at. Matthew 9:14-17
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.”
Our context are Chapters 8 and 9. Jesus goes on this healing rampage throughout these two chapters and He is dominating disease. He is healing people but He ruffles feathers along the way. So He comes to this paralyzed man and He doesn’t just heal him but He forgives his sins. And the crowd is wowed and the other half of the crowd is angry because they feel like He is a heretic. Then He comes along and He calls the shunned of society to be with Him. He is with the sinners and the tax collectors and the people that nobody else hangs out with. And the Pharisees call him out and here is what He says in Matthew 9:12-13
12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Then Jesus goes out and He heals the mute and the blind and the bleeding woman and the demon possessed and He continues to reach out to those who nobody else does. The context of this passage right here is Jesus turning the tables upside down and allowing anybody to come to Him. And He uses his life as a model for new work in people who are ready to receive Him.
It starts in Matthew 9:14-15
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.
Fasting was a common practice in ancient Israel. It was normal for those who were seeking God to fast for a number of reasons. They would fast to afflict one’s soul. They would fast to gain God’s heart. They would fast to grow closer to God. So fasting was and is good. In fact, Jesus affirms the benefits of fasting. He calls out the timing in this moment right here. Know this,
I. God does not want you to live by a formula.
I. God does not want you to live by a formula.
And fasting in this case was a formula. They would fast twice a week. So the disciples asked Him why He wasn’t following the formula. God does not push us to live in a formula. He pushes us to live in relationship with Him. A living and moving and active relationship. We are not just called to do a series of good works but to enjoy a sampling of God moments. Their duty was not to fast right here, their duty was to feast, to celebrate and enjoy. But an intense effort of inflicting their bodies and afflicting their souls so that they could get closer to God, they missed the very end that they were pursuing. They missed their goal. The goal of their fasting was to bring them to this moment that they were glossing over.
Listen to this, the thing that has helped you seek out God can be the very thing that will halt you from experiencing his presence. The very thing that has helped you seek out God can be the very thing that will halt you from experiencing his presence. Live in the moment, not in memory. What has made us good can hold us back from living in the fullness of God’s light and his grace. Pastor Mark said it great last week when he said all of us know people who have been following Christ for 25 years but they don’t have 25 years’ worth of experience, they have one year of experience repeated 25 times. Jesus is not putting down their practice, He is pushing against their blind tradition.
One generation’s revolution or revelation is the next generation’s tradition is the next generation’s rebellion.
We are not called to do exactly as our fathers did. We are called to follow the Spirit that our fathers followed. There are new wineskins that are given to us. We are called to go after them. You are here today because somebody got a new revelation of the Lord within their heart. That is a good thing! That is an awesome thing but it is their thing too. Now the same God who gave them their new thing has something new for you. But your goal is not to go through them. Your goal is to meet the one who got something new in them. He calls us out to something fresh. He calls us to something new.
In the early 2000s, Home Depot was one of the largest companies in America. When they hired a new CEO, their stock actually jumped when he took over. Because he had this focus on efficiency and the bottom line. So their stock took off. A number of years later, it kinda did the opposite and they found themselves in a free fall in the stock market. And it was the exact reason that had taken them upward was the same reason that was taking them downward. So this bottom line focus has brought them to a place of lower sales. They had laid off a bunch of their workers for bad customer service and low morale. Then they hired a new CEO in 2007. Lowes was outperforming Home Depot in almost every category including double their sales. This new CEO stepped into an impossible task but within a couple of years, Home Depot had higher market shares under his leadership. What did he do? It was on day one that he addressed the 350,000 employees by showing them the inverted pyramid. In the tradition business pyramid, you have someone at the top. You have that CEO up at the top and then you have every level and layer of leadership that works down from that. The idea is that it starts at the top and if you are doing well there, it will all trickle down to the rest of the organization. But in one day, he turned the culture upside down at Home Depot. It didn’t change their message but it changed the way they treated each other and the way they interacted with customers. It changed the way they saw themselves. It changed the purpose that they worked for. It was a drastic change. It put the leader at the bottom of the pyramid, effectively showing and modeling exactly what servant leadership is.
Whatever got you to this point, it might be a bad thing, it might be a good thing. But you are here now. What does God want to do in you today? What is his fresh vision for this day? Don’t live in memory, live in this moment right here right now. What is the shift that you need to make to get back on track with God?
We can have good formulas/routines/plans but the Holy Spirit does not follow formulas/routines/plans! He directs us into divine moments that He has set up in advance!
Are you living according to a plan? Are you living according to a formula? Or are you allowing the Spirit of God to direct you into divine moments that He has prepared in advance? Are you fighting against the very thing that you are fighting for? Do you hear what I’m saying?
The disciples were arguing for fasting so that they could get closer to God while they were right next to God. Are you fighting for the very thing that you are fighting against?
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.
II. Don’t patch what needs to be made new.
II. Don’t patch what needs to be made new.
We all have our favorite pair of jeans, right? It is like your Friday night jeans. You don’t wear them hiking, you wear them when you are going out on a good night and you put those jeans on and you are feeling good. And that pair of jeans happens to the world right? You walk by a window and you look a little longer and you might say something like yep that’s right. I had that pair of jeans but here’s what happened over time, a hole started to come in on the knee. So Nina patched it up! But then the other knee started getting a hole and she patched it up. But then a hole started coming above the patch. Nina said these jeans are done! I said no so she put a second patch above the other patch and then a hole starts to work its way around the patch on the top and the bottom. It was getting bad. I was holding on way too long. I actually asked Nina one Christmas a couple years ago if she could take another pair of jeans and sow them on the inside of these jeans! She was laughing but I was serious. It didn’t happen.
Sometimes we try to patch what we need to be made new. And we hold on because we love it and one day it was really good and it had a function in our life or in our spiritual walk with God. But we hold on and won’t let go but it might be the very thing that halts us from going to the next level with God. From receiving a new revelation from God from receiving a fresh word from the Spirit of God.
Here’s the deal, we get a revelation from the Lord, a new and exciting vision from Him. We get a fresh reminder of who He is. We get a fresh vision within our soul and we receive that and what do we do? We remain living the same life we were living before that. And we think it is going to match up or we think we can mash them together and it will be great but it is not great. It is actually worse than it was before that revelation even came. New revelation plus same lifestyle will result in two things, bitterness and guilt. When you receive a revelation but you remain the same, you are trying to take a new thing and patch it on the old and it doesn’t work. And not just that it doesn’t work, it makes thing worse. Don’t patch what needs to be made new!
Someone once said information does not automatically turn into transformation, you have to bridge the gap between the two. To get from information to transformation, it is something called obedience. You have to step out. When the Lord gives us a revelation, it is not done. Stress can happen then. Are you going to take that new patch and put it on the old or are you going to sell out to give everything you have to the new revelation that the Lord is putting in your spirit?
What is the application here for you? Maybe a new revelation doesn’t fit with going to the club every night or going out drinking with your buddies all the time. Maybe a new mindset means you have to stop thinking, looking and dwelling on pornography. Maybe there is somebody here that is holding on to bitterness and you are harboring bitterness in your soul while you are trying to pursue God and that doesn’t match up. They don’t mix. You can’t hold on to one and go after the other. Maybe you need to take focus off of arguing with your spouse and start looking for every way to serve them every way possible.
We have heard something the past few weeks already. There are ministry opportunities for us to step into. Those are new garments. Those are new wineskins.
How are you stepping out into new ways of serving? Maybe some of us need to step into kid’s ministry right now or Hospitality or Connections or Prayer or Production. What is that new revelation God is calling you to today? Jesus did not offer a substitutionary idea. He offered an alternate way of living. It is called obedience. Brennan Manning said when being is divorced from doing, pious thoughts become an adequate substitute for washing dirty feet.
You can’t patch selfishness. You can’t patch it. You have to get it from the root. You can’t patch Jesus into your life. You can’t drop the Holy Spirit into your wineskin and expect to be successful.
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.”
In ancient Palestine, wine was made by treading barefoot on the grapes in a winepress. So you had this winepress, it was a circular pit in the middle of rock and as you stepped on those grapes the juice would begin to flow to the middle and underneath this hole was this vast that would collect the wine. So it would store it and it would start the fermentation process. So they would take the wine and pour it through a cloth to filter things out and then it would sit there for four to six days and begin the first process of fermentation. Then from there they would take goatskins and they would pour the wine into the skins and for the next two to four months, it would begin the second process of fermentation. While that was happening, the carbon dioxide gas would do its work and would begin to expand the wineskins. This flexible wineskin would begin to expand to its limits until it couldn’t expand anymore. Thus you have Jesus’ statement right here. He says
III. You don’t put new wine into old wineskins
III. You don’t put new wine into old wineskins
Something that has become brittle and inflexible and unmoldable. You can’t put new wine in that.
Think of your life as a wineskin. Your experiences, your habits, your ways of thinking, the way you relate to God, all those things developed within you. It is the way you interpret the things in and around you. What habits have made you inflexible to the works God desires to do with you? What are your experiences that you have gone through that have stopped you from receiving fresh wine today?
Old wineskins live for self. Old wineskins control. Old wineskins try harder. Old wineskins live according to stereotypes. They are inflexible. New wineskins live for God. They trust. They live in freedom. They live in newness of life. They live in a moldable and flexible state.
The core elements of wine have never changed. There are two core elements, grapes and yeast. Those two things make wine but then some other things happen around that but those two things don’t change. The core truth of God does not change in our life. His truth does not change. His righteousness, his standard, his law does not change. That’s what Jesus says in Matthew 5:17
17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.
His eternal message is good yesterday, today and tomorrow and forever. He affirms the core elements of faith.
The application of this message isn’t to discard his truth or his life or his Word. It is to be open to your traditions and your experiences that you have come so accustomed to and comfortable with and sold out to and inflexible towards, to allow those to be changed in the spirit realm.
The core elements of wine don’t change but the flavor does. Every wine has its own unique flavor depending on the culture and the climate around it, depending on the type of grapes and the fermentation. Each wine has a little bit different flavor depending on those things. It’s just like church culture. If you go to church 50 years ago, it has a different flavor than it does today.
If you go to a different bible-believing church each weekend, then you are worshiping in a little different flavor than the church you visited before and will visit the next week. There are different climates and different flavors depending on where you are. Your flavor of worship is a unique vintage of worship unto God. Each one of us has our own unique vintage. Just as each church as their own unique vintage.
I love that there is a relationship between the wine and the wineskins. The wineskin is the one that is effected by the wine, not the other way around. But there is a relationship between the two. As the wine changes, so does the wineskin and they almost work together to mold over time to make a beautiful product.
At the end of the day, the process is successful as long as the wineskin is flexible. There is power in the wine but there is growth in the wineskin.
Pastor Mark Batterson has a great illustration of this in a dream of his. In this dream, I came across this person at a restaurant and they had their routine and their way of doing things and it was a good way and they had an enjoyable life but they got to this point later on and it was like an empty vat where everything had dried up and the vat was empty and I spoke a word of life, I spoke a word of truth, I spoke fresh wine into this person and she burst, she broke down crying in sadness and then in happiness at the exact same moment because of the emptiness in their soul and realizing that there was freedom from routine and there was freedom from an old wineskin and the brittleness and the inflexibility all of a sudden became moldable and flexible to realize that God had a new wine to pour into that person. I believe that this word is a message that is for today and it is for somebody here. God has a fresh word. He has a fresh vision. He has a new wine to pour into my life. Are you ready to receive it? Are you a wineskin that is in ready position to receive and move? Not according to your experience or according to your tradition but according to what He desires to do today.
Listen, for this to change our lives, we’ve got to be moldable. For this principle to become personal to us, we have to put ourselves in the position of receiving. Here is what the Scripture said. Isaiah 43:19
19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
II Corinthians 5:17
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!