Old Clothes and Old Wineskins

Friday, Mar. 3                        

I’ve always been uncertain about the practice of fasting.  I don’t fast and I know only a few people who do.  Yet it’s been a part of religion for centuries, and not limited to the Jewish faith or to Christianity.  Early in Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees brought up the issue.  Jesus had just chosen Matthew to be one of the twelve disciples, and Matthew hosted a huge feast for Jesus, with a number of important people, including his tax collector friends.  Luke 5:27-29.  This precipitated criticism of Jesus for hobnobbing with sinners and tax collectors and then triggered questions about fasting.  The Pharisees took notice that Jesus’ disciples did not fast while John the Baptist’s disciples did.  Jesus took care of that question by asking why his disciples would fast while they were with the bridegroom.  That was a time for feasting, not fasting.  The premise is that fasting is associated with sadness, while joyous occasions are for feasting.  But then Jesus used the occasion to move on to a more pertinent issue.  As usual, he used common practices to make his point.  Who would cut out a piece of cloth from a new garment to patch an old, worn out garment?  And who would put new wine in old wineskins, which would result in fermenting wine bursting the old wineskins, losing the wine and ruining the old wineskin?  He cleverly moved from the fasting issue to the Pharisees’ hang-ups on Jesus’ teachings.  To them, Jesus was replacing their traditional faith by new and false teachings.  They evidently didn’t agree with Jesus when he said that he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.  Mt. 5:17.  The Scriptures (our O.T.) did not need patches.  There was nothing wrong with any part of the O.T.  But the O.T. did not contain the full story, but it prophesied of it, and the fulfillment of that prophecy was being carried out right in front of their eyes.  The Pharisees missed it.

 

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