Dawning of a New Age
Sovereign Lord, I turn again from my stubborn independence to turn once more to You and Your ways.
Consider: There is something comfortable about a rule or a law. It helps us to know where we stand. We are now ruled by the Spirit, not by regulation. We need the strength of Jesus, the Bridegroom.
Probably while they were still eating they were joined by John the Baptist's disciples. Critical of Jesus' disciples and, by implication, of Jesus himself, they appeared more preoccupied with the outward form than its meaning. They had maintained John's asceticism (see 11:18) but lost sight of his strong witness to Jesus. In his response, Jesus used three illustrations, the first being a metaphor used by John of the joy of wedding guests at being with the groom, rendering the fasting normally associated with sadness totally inappropriate (John 3:29). In the Old Testament the bridegroom metaphor was repeatedly applied to God (Isa. 54:5,6), pointing forward to the messianic banquet. With Jesus' audacious claim that he is the messianic bridegroom, the messianic age has dawned.
The other illustrations point vividly to something new in their midst. What Jesus was inaugurating couldn't just be patched onto Judaism or confined within old religious forms: "The new wine of messianic forgiveness could not be preserved in the parched wineskins of Jewish legalism." It was becoming increasingly obvious that there was "a fundamental incompatibility between the old Israel, paralyzed by self-righteousness and overloaded with petty regulations, and the new Israel humbled by consciousness of sin and turning to Jesus the Messiah for forgiveness" (R. V. G. Tasker).
There's safety in depending on external forms, upon rules and an "ought to" way of life. The problem is, as this incident illustrates, that these frameworks can become elevated to greater importance than the life they're meant to express and it all becomes rather arid and joyless. "The Christian life was never intended to be a conventional, cautious, careful, tiptoeing-through-the-tulips way of life, avoiding moral mud puddles, staying out of trouble and hopefully accumulating enough marks for good behavior to ensure us a happy hereafter" (Eugene Peterson).
Ask God to show you areas in your life where outward form has become more important than knowing and being shaped by Jesus.
Living Lord, breathe life into any lifeless forms I may have in my walk with You. I don't want a form of faith without Your dynamic power.