“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (Matt. 9:16-17)In both, this analogy by Jesus is responding to the question posed by the Pharisees:
They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking." (Luke 5:33)
Wine and sewing are used as analogies
This doesn't mean their teachings were different. As we can see from Jesus' teachings, they perfectly aligned with John's teachings, Moses' teachings, and the teachings of other prophets. We can see how Jesus' teachings matched Moses when he precisely quoted Moses' most important instruction when asked which of the commandments was the most important:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'" (Luke 10:27 and Deut. 6:5)
And we know that Jesus' general teachings mirrored his teacher John's teachings:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 3:1-2)After his baptism from John, Jesus began teaching the very same message:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 4:17)Then Jesus also told his disciples to preach this same message to others:
"As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'" (Matt. 10:7)
This paraphrased message, 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' has been greatly misinterpreted by those professional sectarian teachers and their institutions who want to scare people into joining their institution by saying that this means John, Jesus, and Jesus' disciples were teaching that the end of the world is coming.
Yet even though through the centuries so many professional sectarian teachers predicted the end of the world was coming within a few years, the end of the world still hasn't come, now 2,000 years later. When will the followers of these acclaim-hungry professional teachers realize that John, Jesus, and Jesus' students were not teaching about the end of the world?
In fact, the word "near", taken from the Greek word ἐγγίζω (eggizō), does not mean "soon." It relates to closeness - being nearby. This is confirmed in the lexicon: "to bring near, to join one thing to another; to draw or come near to, to approach."
They were not teaching about the end of the world. They were teaching that the kingdom of God is nearby. God is available to us. We can reach Him easily, should we reach out to Him and re-develop our love for Him.
This interpretation is confirmed by another statement of Jesus regarding the kingdom of God (the spiritual realm):
"The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21)Being "within you" and "near" are consistent. But it is not consistent to try to twist Jesus', John's and Jesus' disciples' words to make it seem that they were teaching that the end of the world is coming. That is simply a strategy of organized professional sectarian institutions that have wanted to gain and keep followers by threatening them.
God is available
The bigger picture of the mention of all three - John, Jesus, and Jesus' disciples - teaching the same doctrine of God and His kingdom being available to us - is that Jesus did not go out and invent his own teaching. His teachings were consistent with his teacher John's, and John's teacher (Zechariah), and the entire lineage of teachers coming from Abraham and Moses before them.
This is also why many referred to Jesus as the υἱός (huios) of David. The Greek word υἱός (huios) has been incorrectly translated to "son" in modern New Testament versions, when in fact, the lexicon shows that it only indicates "son" "in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)."
The lexicon clearly identifies other uses of the word υἱός (huios), including the one applicable here: "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower 1) a pupil." So the references to Jesus as the "son" of David, were actually referencing that Jesus came in the succession of teachers - i.e., was a "pupil" - or student - coming in line with David.
This is only logical, as there is no chance that Jesus was David's "son" - because David lived centuries prior to Jesus.
Meaning of patching an old garment
This brings us to the point Jesus is making with regard to patching an old garment from a new one and putting new wine into an old wineskin.
Jesus was speaking to the point that God's representatives teach according to the time and circumstances present at the time of their teachings. Their core teachings and message do not change, but their methods and specific instructions may change according to the time and circumstances.
In other words, when someone tries to compare Jesus' specific instructions to his students to Moses' specific instructions to his students, there will be differences. Both Jesus and Moses were teaching love for God, but their specific instructions each related to the particular time and circumstances.
While we might think that there was little difference in the cultures between Moses' time and Jesus' time because they were both from antiquity, that is short-sighted. There were certainly differences in the situation and environment.
This is why, for example, Jesus did not teach the ceremonies of offering butchered animals at the altar. Rather, Jesus taught his students to make private offerings to God as he did, and he also ate no meat. This is because during Jesus' time and circumstances, meat was not needed to keep the body alive. Judea was a rich farming region during Jesus' time, and they also had fish.
Moses' students, on the other hand, were nomads traveling through a mostly-barren region, so they required meat to survive. Moses thus sanctioned eating meat but only after it had been offered to God at the altar - on the condition it was limited to certain animals and the meat was drained of blood and carefully cooked.
Jesus also made offerings - but of loaves and fish - to the Supreme Being: Jesus' offerings have been mistranslated and misinterpreted as "blessings" but this describes Jesus' personal and private offerings to the Supreme Being as sanctioned by Moses and other teachers in Jesus' line.
There were also differences between John's specific instructions to his students and Jesus', as Jesus is responding to here: John instructed his students to fast on particular holy days in commemoration to that particular purpose - often in devotion to an earlier prophet.
But Jesus' students were traveling with him, often walking many miles between towns, where Jesus would give his sermons and speak personally to people. This was a different situation than John's, who mostly stayed in his monastery in the desert where he taught to people after those people traveled to see him.
Jesus, on the other hand, was reaching out to people by traveling to their towns and cities. Traveling by foot for many miles is not an easy chore, so Jesus and his students needed to eat and drink enough so that they'd have the energy to walk and make the arrangements in each town.
Fasting was out of the question - and could even be considered cruel - when considering that Jesus' students were walking with him from town to town in Judea - a very inhospitable region for foot travel. They were already making great sacrifices in their service to God - which is what fasting is.
The central teachings did not change
Yet still, the core instruction did not change. Jesus' instruction was essentially the same as John's with regard to the purpose of his students. The purpose of their efforts was both to serve and please the Supreme Being.
Jesus was traveling through the region teaching about God to introduce others to Him. This is the ultimate service to the Supreme Being. Jesus' students were supporting that service by accompanying Jesus, and setting up places for him to stay and teach. So they were serving Jesus, who was serving God.
John's students primarily stayed at the monastery with John and supported his teachings by helping to accommodate visitors. John was also serving God, and his students supported that service. John also instructed them to fast during the holy days as part of their service.
It could be compared to two people working in two different divisions of a company. One person may be a manager on the production floor and another may be a marketing person. Despite their two different tasks, they are both working for the same company and both trying to make that company successful.
This is the same with God's loving servants and representatives. God dispatches His loving servants to work in their own way in His service, according to their skills and their particular situation and the environment they are in. One of His servants may travel to different places while another may write, for example.
But if they are in line with the teachings of His true representatives - as Jesus and John were - their teachings will not be different. They will still teach that the only pathway to happiness is to come to know and love the Supreme Being, and then do His will in order to please Him. The only way each of us can be individually happy is if we reach out from within to our Best Friend and Beloved Master - God, who is truly near - and give Him our heart.
Their teachings were consistent because their teachings were coming from God. Jesus affirmed this as he said:
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me." (John 7:16)
And yet none of these teachers - including Jesus - taught what modern sectarian institutions are teaching today: That Jesus is God and all we have to do is accept Jesus "into our heart" and that he "died for my sins" and we are saved.
Jesus never taught this. John never taught this. Zachariah didn't teach this. David didn't teach this. Moses didn't teach this. Abraham didn't teach this. None of the bonafide representatives of the Supreme Being taught this.
So why are these professional sectarian institutions teaching this? Because they are not in line with the lineage of devoted representatives of the Supreme Being, as were Jesus, John, Zachariah, Solomon, Samuel, David, Eli, Joshua, Job, Moses, Abraham and Noah were.
The teachings of these professional sectarian institutions are inconsistent with the teachings of this great lineage of teachings that focused on the instruction that we should learn to love and devote ourselves to the Supreme Being. These teachings were consistent among all the prophets as well as Jesus and John because they each represented God and the only pathway back to the spiritual realm.
These teachings provide the only pathway to happiness because of who we truly are. We are not these temporary physical bodies and their temporary identities - which will decompose at the time of death. We are spiritual beings, and our home is the spiritual realm.
Our natural position is as one of God's caregivers. Each of us has a unique relationship with the Supreme Being. The only way to return to that relationship is to devote ourselves to the one and only Supreme Being. This is why Jesus' taught as Moses taught:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38 and Deut. 6:5)