September 15, 2020
Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast? . . . . No one puts a piece of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made (Matthew 9:14,16).
I remember the days when my mother would spend hours mending our clothes with needle and thread or with patches of cloth. We were not a wealthy family and could not afford to buy new clothes every time a shirt or pair of pants or shoes were ripped or worn. Today wearing ripped or worn out clothes is a fashion statement. Back then it made a different statement.
Turning from the point of fasting as a practice in times of spiritual sorrow or crisis, Jesus takes a different tack on fasting - that of incongruity. In effect He said to John’s disciples: “Your question implies ignorance of who I am and what I’ve come to do. I am not here to reform Judaism. I’m here to bring salvation to all who believe and trust in Me. Questions about fasting are irrelevant.”
The old garment is Judaism. Christianity is the piece of un-shrunk (untreated; raw) cloth. Trying to ‘patch’ or ‘reform’ Judaism with Christianity is impossible. Christianity cannot make up for the deficiencies of Judaism. This would make Judaism more bizarre and ineffective than it had already become, and it would destroy what Jesus intended Christianity to be.
Let me put it another way. The old ‘forms’ of Judaism (sacrificial system, Mosaic Law, priesthood, fasting, ritual cleansing, etc.) are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Christianity has no need for these because Jesus completed them, not reformed them, not patched them, but fulfilled them. Trying to adapt life in the Kingdom to life in Judaism would destroy both.
When mother patched our jeans or shoes or shirts, usually the patch didn’t match the garment she was repairing. The colors were off. The patterns were off. The texture was off. And when she washed the clothes the patch would shrink (unless she used pre-shrunk material) which would cause the garment to ‘pucker’ around the patch and tear it after a time.
The same holds true today. The Christian faith is not bound by ceremony and ritual. The Holy Spirit has come to set us free from that. We live according to the Law of Love - love for God, love for others, and a healthy and proper love for self. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).
“Lord Jesus, thank You for the freedom we have in Your Holy Spirit to live, worship, and serve You as He leads us. Thank You that our faith is not bound up by law, save the Law of Love which You have written on the heart of everyone who knows You personally. Amen.”