mardi 24 juillet 2012

The Meaning of Mathew 9 and 10

I received a question from J.K and it was related with the meaning of two particular chapter of Matthew. I have tried to answer them below. Hopefully you find it also meaning full.
Hi J.k,

I received your SmS, but i got caught up in other activities - hence the delay in responding.

For your first question, why this interdiction?
"Mat 10:5  These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 
Mat 10:6  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

The simple answer is that Jesus had different phase on his mission when he was on earth. The first one was to focus uniquely to the Israelite before his death: "Mat 15:24  But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. " and then the world after his Resurrection: "And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. " Luke 24:46-47 -- St. Paul deals with the reasons of these phases in epistles of Romans from chapter 9 to chapter 11.

2) For your second question,

"Mat 9:14  Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 

Mat 9:15  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. 
Mat 9:16  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. 
Mat 9:17  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."

a) The verse 14-15, speaks of the usefulness of fasting. Jesus informed the Pharisees that the fasting was not necessary for his disciples as long as he was with them physically. But that when he will be taken from them after his death and ascension they will have to fast. And we see that happening later in the Book of Acts when the disciples started to follow Jesus recommendation on fasting since now he was no longer physically with them - for he was now gone to the father's presence in his ascension.

"Act 13:1  Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 
Act 13:2  As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 
Act 13:3  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." 

Fasting became a normal practice in the Church of Jesus Christ when he ascended to the father. But while he was on earth with his disciples, fasting was not required.

b) The verse 16-17, explains that because Jesus was bringing a new way of doing things - the new wine - he couldn't do that with people, namely his disciples - old views of God so long as they had not yet changed sufficiently to bear his new ways and teachings. For a mind which is not disposed to change can suffer tremendously when it is subjected to change. The allegory is based on the phenomenon that a wine that went through a fermentation releases gases that expanded and stretched the wine skin that was used to contain the wine. The container was usually made of animal skin, like a goat skin. So what happened, is that if you wanted to make a new wine, you better should have used a new container because if you used an old and used container, when the new wine would ferment and release gas, the old wine skin would have to stretch again. But since it had already stretched with previous wine to its limit, the new stretching would have burst it and ripped it apart. Leading hence to the loss of the new wine that was put into it. Hence in order to avoid that, a new wine was put in a new wine skin (container). So Jesus uses this illustration to show that in order to practice or receive new things, we need to have new ways of thinking, new predisposition. Otherwise the new things even if good could harm us. Jesus didn't want his disciples to practices fasting in the new covenant the way it was practiced in the old covenant. So he spent first 3 years with them teaching them and changing them before they started practicing it with a new mentality and in a new way. For example, in the new covenant we do not fast in order to receive forgiveness like people did in the Old Testament (ex. of Jonas at Nineveh). In the new covenant, we just trust the blood of Christ to clean us when we confess and repent of our sins (1 john 1:9; 2:1-2). We do not fast for it. So Jesus - the bridegroom - when he was with them was working to change them. When he left them (that is why we are waiting for his return, he is no longer with us as he was before) then the disciples started fasting, but with a new understanding and without using old thinking in the new covenant.

I hope this has helped you J.k.
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