Michael Colunga (19 Apr 2013)
"Thanks, Barry!  That's "putting the cookies on the bottom shelf."--your study on Luke 5:33-39"

Hello, John and Doves,
Thanks, Barry!  That's "putting the cookies on the bottom shelf."  Your study on Luke 5:33-39 reminded me of the teaching of J. Vernon McGee.
Barry Amundsen (16 Apr 2013)
"Q. Why do your disciples not fast? A. New wine needs new wineskins... Huh?"

Matthew 9:
14.  Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
 15.  And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
 16.  No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
 17.  Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
Luke 5:
 33.  And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?
 34.  And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?
 35.  But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
 36.  And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.
 37.  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.
 38.  But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.
 39.  No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, the old is better.
My reason for sharing this is to give another example of the Holy Spirit giving me insight into the word that I did not get from "studying it but from "meditating" or entering into the presence of God's Spirit and humbly asking for Him to teach me what it meant, for I did not know.
One day, while at my job working on a ranch as caretaker, I read the above passages from my Bible and began to be frustrated that it made no sense to me why Jesus would begin talking about sewing a patch on a garment and putting new wine into old or new wineskins because to me this had nothing to do with fasting or not fasting which I thought was the subject and question by the disciples of John the Baptist.
Now, this was not the first time I had read something in the Bible that made no sense to me and at other times I might easily have just passed it off as to be expected that Jesus often said things that don't really make sense but we just move on and hope the next part is easier to understand or whatever. But this particular day I must have been in a feisty mood or something because I got a little angry as I was beginning my work after my break during which I had read that passage and so I said to God, "How do you expect us to understand your word when it doesn't make any sense?" And then I felt the Holy Spirit answer me and say, "Would you like to understand that passage?" And I said "With all my heart, I would but I know I'm not smart enough to figure it out. Can you please tell me what it means?" I then sensed a huge smile on His face as He said He would love to tell me but that He would do so not by just spelling it out to me but rather by "leading" me into the truth of it suggesting participation on my part like a shepherd leads sheep but the sheep must follow.
He then asked me a question. He asked, "What do you suppose it was that motivated the disciples of John the Baptist to ask this question of Jesus in the first place?" I said, "How should I know?" And He said, "Well think about it, why should they care whether or not Jesus' disciples fast and pray, what concern is it of theirs?" And I thought, "Yeah, that is a good question... Let me think on this for a minute..." And as I was trying to imagine what motivated their question, the Holy Spirit gave me a gift. He allowed me to see like a movie the scene of these men coming up to Jesus in a group and wanting to speak with Him. I saw that they were a bit nervous and none of them wanted to be first to speak as they motioned to each other to take the lead and finally one of them spoke up and asked the question. But superimposed over the scene, God allowed me to feel what was in their hearts as they were asking this question and suddenly I saw what their real question was. They were too chicken to come right out and ask the real question that they wanted an answer to so they asked in a round-about way but Jesus knew what their real question was and so He answered first their surface question, about fasting or not but immediately thereafter Jesus began to answer their real question.
Had these men had the guts to speak what was really on their minds, their question would have sounded something like this:
"Master, We believe that you are the Messiah, and we have been watching and waiting for you for many years. We followed John back when he first began to preach about preparing a way for you and we responded by leaving our jobs and families and livelihoods and learning from John everything we could about what to expect and we have made it our live's work to be the kinds of people that you would choose for your disciples and we expected that when you arrived that we would leave off following John and take right up following you. But you have left us completely shocked and disappointed to the point that we can stand it no longer and we must have an answer and would very much like to know why You have not chosen us to be your disciples but instead you chose men who are not religious at all, they don't fast, or pray or attend temple services or know the first thing about God but are fishermen and tax collectors and zealots and worldly ruffians... What gives?"
Now Jesus' statements about sewing a new patch into an old garment will begin to make perfect sense. Putting new wine into old wine skins will make perfect sense and those who are 'used to drinking old wine will not like to drink new wine for they will say old is better' makes perfect sense. What Jesus is saying is that the message He has to proclaim and trust to men is so vastly different from what even John the Baptist knows anything about that it would take too much time and energy trying to get it accepted by religious men who would be arguing against it in favor of what they think they already know and therefore He had to choose men who had no previously held religious beliefs at all. He needed a new garment rather than to try to sew a new patch into an old one because as he said "the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old." He needed new wine skins or bottles to put this new teaching into because He knows that these men are going to be asked to pay with their lives for the message He is entrusting to them. He needs rough, dedicated men who will not have an old theology getting in the way of the message and it must endure to the end of the needed time to ensure that the message is not lost before finishing the course. This would have proved too much to ask of the disciples of John the Baptist but was entrusted to men of iron-clad conviction that what they were trusted with was worthy of their lives unto death. Therefore the new wine would have the time needed to become fermented good old wine able to be drunk by the church even unto our day.