The Pharisees Have a Question

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.”

Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.  And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

Luke 5:33-39

After Jesus attends Levi’s big bash, the question about fasting arises. The Pharisees fast twice a week, so righteous and wonderful are they… and they make sure everybody knows about it. John’s disciples fasted also, and let’s face it, fasting was a big cultural thing for the Jews of that day. Of course the Law only required fasting once per year. Fasting was associated with mourning; mourning for sin or loss. It was also used in times of special devotion.

Jesus and His disciples didn’t do any extra fasting, and Jesus tells them in His answer exactly why that was: The Bridegroom was in their midst; this is a time to rejoice!

He uses a couple of little parables to expand His thinking, about a torn garment and new wine. A new garment is not intended to be a patch of the old, for with a new garment, who needs the old? Jesus is the new garment.

If you have new wine, you don’t put it into an old wineskin, because it will ruin the old wineskin as it ferments. When new wine comes along, everyone will say the old is better anyway, since most wine drinkers prefer a more mature wine to a young one. Funny thing, when the new wine (change) comes along, everyone prefers the old as you know if you’ve ever tried to change anything. Yet Jesus is the new wine, for with His coming, the Old passed away.

I’m willing to guess that this reply didn’t go over all that well with the old guard.

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