September 16, 2020

Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast? . . . . Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved (Matthew 9:14,17).

In the days of Jesus, wine was stored in 'wineskins' - bottles made from the skins of sheep or goats. The argument that Jesus makes is very practical. New wineskins are pliable. They can stretch as new wine ferments in them. Old wineskins are not pliable. If you put new wine in old wineskins, they will bust because they cannot expand to accommodate the fermentation of the new wine.

The interpretation of the illustration is much like the interpretation of the patched garment (v. 16) and the wedding celebration (v. 15) with regard to the practice of religious fasting. New wine represents the new life in Christ (Christianity). New wineskins represent Christians. Old wine represents the old life under Judaism (Mosaic Law and all the rituals, regulations, rites, etc.). Old wineskins represent the Jews. So what's the point?

The new life in Jesus Christ cannot be regulated by the old life of Judaism, and the old life in Judaism cannot accommodate the new life in Jesus Christ, especially if a person holds to the old life in Judaism. Jesus said (Luke 5:39), No one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough'.

So,  Jesus gave a three-fold answer to the question, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?":

    •    In the presence of Jesus there is joyful celebration; it is not a time for fasting, which is a sign of sorrow.
    •    Christianity is not Judaism reformed; it is not intended to make up for Judaism's deficiencies or ineffectiveness, therefore the practice of fasting cannot be expected or demanded in Christian life, but it can be offered as a spiritual discipline.
    •    Christianity is incompatible with Judaism and cannot be conformed to Judaism; it cannot be regulated by Judaism's laws, rituals, ceremonies, or forms. Therefore, fasting, while beneficial to the Christian, cannot be demanded based on Mosaic Law or Jewish practice.

"Father, it is hard sometimes to determine expectations vs. demands when it comes to understanding Scripture. I know there are many things in the Old Testament Law that are beneficial, but have been superseded by faith in Jesus Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Continue to give me an understanding of Your Word so that I may live according to Your will and not according to forms, rituals, ceremonies, laws, or precepts. To the glory of Jesus I ask. Amen"


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