Why Should I Bother to Learn “New Things”?
Rubel Shelly   -  

Rubel Shelly, preaching
Matthew 9:14-17
Why Should I Bother to Learn “New Things”?

“The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”
(Romans 14:17).

“Old habits die hard!” Ever hear that before? It is a proverb found in practically every culture. It speaks to the fact that long-established ways of thinking and behaving are difficult to change or stop. Has it ever
been a “confession” you had to make when explaining some ingrained behavior that you’ve been trying to change? Jesus ran into that problem during his ministry in trying to change the way people thought about the Kingdom of God. They needed to learn something “new” – and some just wouldn’t do it.

The episode for this study – with its allegories about parties, patching, and pouring – is not about some imagined conflict between the Old Covenant and New Covenant or the Law of Moses and the gospel of Christ. It is about the type of student a rabbi or preacher can help. You just can’t teach anything to someone who already knows everything!

What were some of the common (mis)understandings of the Kingdom of God in Jesus’ day?

Even as the resurrected Jesus was about to ascend to the Father and Holy Spirit, what misunderstanding of the Kingdom of God was still in the minds of the apostles? Cf. Acts 1:6.

The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom defined by geography or politics; it is, instead, the realm where God reigns supreme and his will is obeyed. In a word, it is what Jesus taught us to pray for: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

The disciples of John the Baptist challenged Jesus over the fact that his disciples did not embrace fasting as a central part of their lifestyle (Matt 9:14). What was Jesus’ answer? Can you explain his reasoning? Is
there anything wrong with fasting today? Under what circumstances do you see the value of it?

Jesus pressed his point about the appropriateness of fasting under certain circumstances by giving parables about patching clothes and pouring wine. (a) The old clothing is the mindset that attempts to find the kingdom piecemeal – a fix here, a tweak there. (b) The old wineskins are people who already have a fixed mindset on how things should be – and, at best, grudgingly open themselves to the gospel.

Your life in Kingdom of God is a BRAND-NEW COSTUME (not patchwork!) and JESUS-GROWN WINE (not the cheap stuff!). In other words, you take the message of Jesus whole and complete or not at all: repent (turn loose of sin) and embrace the kingdom (God’s rule over your life). Then and only then will you experience the “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” Christ died to make possible.

We started this session with the proverb “Old habits die hard.” Here’s another one: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” It’s really only a variation on the first one. Okay, we’re not dogs! But the point is that we sometimes get so set in our ways that we close our minds, resist learning the ways of God’s kingdom in favor of what we’ve always seen, heard, and thought. Close your study of this parable by praying for the ability to learn, grow, and embrace new insights that will draw you closer to Christ.