8 – A New Covenant
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
- Fasting: Going for a period without food.
- Bridegroom: A man who is getting married.
- Unshrunk cloth: A piece of cloth that hasn’t been treated or shrunk.
- Garment: Item of clothing.
- Wineskin: A leather bottle to carry wine.
Do you think there is value to going without something like food in order to show your devotion to God?
Why do you think it would be a bad idea to keep new wine in old wineskins?
What year are we in? Have you ever thought that it is strange that we record years as before and after King Jesus came into the world? The life of Jesus began a new period in history, and a new order in the way that people come into a relationship with God.
The people of God used to fast in order to seek his blessing and to show how much they were giving him. Although the law only mentioned fasting once a year, in the time of Jesus some had added to this and fasted every week! They were trying to please God through what they were doing, and they felt that they were near to him. These people question why Jesus’ disciples are not doing the same as them. Jesus’ answer is that they do not need to fast, because they were already in God’s presence whilst he was with them.
Although these people tried to come near to God through their efforts, they were still far away. In order to have a right relationship with God they needed to change something. Jesus says that to try to improve the situation is like putting a piece of new cloth on old clothing – when it is washed the new piece will shrink, rip away and make the tear worse. Or it is like putting new wine into old wineskins – the wine continues to leak gas which will swell the wineskin, eventually tearing it and wasting the whole lot. What is needed is a completely new garment, and a completely new wineskin to keep the wine. The new way that Jesus Christ presents is far better than the old one – we are able to come to God not through our own efforts, but through faith in him.
Why is it stupid to think we can be right with God in our own strength?
What is Jesus referring to when he says that he is going to be taken away from his disciples?
that the presence and blessing of God will be very obvious in your life.