What is it about the turning over of a New Year? Resolutions are attempted, outlooks and optimism abound as the shackles of the past are laid aside. Will 2021 really be any different from the previous years? How many articles have been written about God about to do a New Thing, or that things are about to change? Do we really believe it?
The disciples of John the Baptist represent those who were functioning under an “old wineskin” mentality. They were part of a mighty move of God that occurred under his ministry. There came a time when a transition took place, and John recognised and flowed with this change while many of his disciples did not.
He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
Why was Jesus speaking about new wineskins to the disciples of John? What are some of the messages we can learn? Let’s observe what happened immediately after Jesus revealed this truth. A series of 5 miracles took place within a very short sequence of time. They are as follows:
1) Raising of Jairus’s daughter from the dead (9:18-19, 23-26).
2) Woman with the issue of blood (9:20-22)
3) Healing of the two blind men (9:27-31)
4) Deliverance of a man bound by a devil (9:31-34)
5) Preaching to and healing of all who were sick of diseases (9:35-36)
Chapter 9 concludes with Jesus being moved with compassion upon the people with no shepherd in addition to the recognition of a mighty harvest that was at hand. The Lord’s lament was that there were only a few labourers to seize this initiative. A new way of thinking and a new mindset was required in order to meet the challenge. The old way of doing things, though fruitful in its season, would not be adequate. Are we willing to lay aside our “old wineskin” mentality in order to flow in all that the Lord is about to do?
The demonstration of the 5 miracles above surely grabbed the attention of His followers. How would we like to see God’s power similarly released in our lives and through LE? How can we come to the place of adapting a “new wineskin” mentality? Here are the key insights that we can learn from the Lord’s closing remarks in chapter 9.
1) Jesus was moved with compassion (9:36). He recognised that the people were like sheep with no shepherd. It is interesting to cite the accounts when Jesus was moved with compassion in the scriptures. While there are many other examples in the Bible, we often see a miracle of some kind associated with His expressed compassion (Mark 1:40-42, Mark 6:34).
2) The harvest was ripe, but there were just a few “ill-equipped” labourers (9:37-38). The Lord was not just speaking of a lack of labourers, but also their lack of capacity. When taking all of these into account, we can understand why Jesus spoke of the need for a new wineskin. Is it any different today?
In digesting the events of this chapter, it is critical that we do not overemphasize the 5 miracles but rather, place focus on the need for compassion. LE, as a church, and we, as individuals, are called to be shepherds to our respective flocks. This involves loving and caring for the sheep that God has placed under our care. If done successfully, the miracles and demonstration of God’s power will soon follow. The Words of our Lord have never been truer, “The harvest is plenteous, but the labourers are few”. May the Lord help us to adapt to this mindset so that we can experience the fulness of that New Wine, that New Thing that God is about to do.