John’s disciples came to him and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
“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 people 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.”
(Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5:33-39)
Let’s look at our 2 BIG Questions:
Who exactly is Jesus?
First, he analogizes life with him to a wedding party, with him as the groom. As long as the the groom’s around, there’s waaaaay too much joy for mourning or fasting.
He then expands on that theme with a sewing lesson followed by a tutorial on wine storage. What on earth does he mean?
As discussed here, wine symbolizes joy in the Bible. Jesus replaced the old joyless legalism with new joy-full grace. “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus didn’t just make a slight adjustment to the way things were done. He fulfilled the law 100% and pointed to an absolutely revolutionary new way of living: “We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6) Or to put it another way: “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
In other words, trying to mix law and grace is like using a swatch of new unshrunk material to patch up an old pair of jeans. When you wash ’em the patch will shrink and tear off, leaving a bigger hole than before Or in other other words, mixing law and grace is like putting new wine into old wineskins. The new wine will ferment and build up pressure until finally the old skins explode because they’ve lost their elasticity.
What exactly should we do?
Don’t try to live a legalistic ritualistic religious-y life under your own feeble power. Jesus frees us. Thank God that you’re a completely new creation in Christ and let the Spirit fill your heart to overflowing with joy. And then share it with the world.