Then John’s disciples came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast? ” Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests be sad while the groom is with them? The time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one patches an old garment with unshrunk cloth, because the patch pulls away from the garment and makes the tear worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. But they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. Matthew 9:14-17
Change is hard. People who lead change struggle with it just as much as the rest of us, they simply get to decide the direction of change. As human beings we are wired for consistency. Our brains are constantly looking for patterns that we can predict. When those patterns change our minds literally have to work harder until they find new pattern. It’s part of being human.
We are not the only people in history to struggle with change. In this passage, John’s disciples are wrestling with it tooThey see Jesus’ disciples doing things that seem different than what they were taught. Their approach to Jesus is filled with curiosity and wonder. I think that is why Jesus’ response to them has a very different tone than when Jesus interacts with the religious leaders. Notice how Jesus brilliantly and gently reminds them that change can be a good and beautiful thing. He doesn’t tell them to suck it up and deal with the change. Instead he gives them examples of how old things and new things are both good but can’t coexist. Old ways of thinking are old for a reason. They cannot carry us into the future even if they served us well in the past.
There is a truth embedded in this story that we can all learn from. Yes, change is hard but it is in the face of change that we should become curious. When our beliefs about God don’t seem to align with what we are used to, it is the time to ask questions, not to bury our heads in the sand. I think Jesus loves their question and gently gives them perspective. That is the way God tends to deal with our genuine longings to understand.
This is actually a principle for reading the scriptures. Usually some of the most profound insights into God’s heart can be found in passages that bother us or confuse us. If we are willing to linger and keep asking questions, we are positioned to see beautiful things come alive before our eyes. So the next time you are faced with an uncomfortable change, stop and ask God, “what are you up to?” He can handle your questions. Keep asking him until you begin to learn.
By Aaron Bjorklund