Summary: Jesus' comment on wineskins is confusing to many. What does it mean and how does it tie into His comments right before that on fasting?
DID JESUS COME TO REPAIR THE OLD WAY? There are some of the same elements, but we need to know that this is a new thing.
- Matthew 9:14, 16-17.
- There will still be fasting – Jesus doesn’t dismiss it. Instead, He says it’ll happen when He is taken away from them (when the groom has left). (A possible analogy for us: unrestrained eating during the holidays.)
- This means there are some of the same elements – in this case, fasting. There will be other similar elements, like praying and a concern for prayer.
- But then Jesus immediately goes on and makes the point about new wineskins.
- Why does He do that? He does it right there because He wants the Pharisees to know: “Yes, there may be some of the elements that were there before that will still be present, but make no mistake: I am doing a new thing!”
- This is important because the Pharisees’ question in verse 14 has as its basis something like this: “Why don’t Your disciples obey the traditions that we’ve handed down?” In other words, “Why aren’t you respecting and obeying the old ways?”
- Therefore Jesus tells them that there is an exception being made at that moment for the fasting because of His presence, but even when they are fasting it’s not going to be in obedience to your traditions.
- What’s the connection between vv. 14-15 and vv. 16-17?
- It’s that idea that Jesus is telling the Pharisees that some of the elements that were there before may still be present (like fasting), but the Pharisees need to understand that Jesus has not come to repair the old way. He is bringing new wineskins.
- Why is Jesus bringing new wineskins?
- As He explains in vv. 16-17, it’s because an attempt to repair the old wineskins would just end up making the problem worse.
- This is one reason why it’s so essential that we understand what Jesus is offering us and embrace the new way. Combining the new and the old will lead to a bigger mess.
- Let’s talk about what this looks like on the issue of fasting.
- Under the old system, you fasted in order to obey the rule and be able to say you were following the regulation.
- Along with that, you might make it a point to fast more days than those around you as proof that you’re closer to God than them because you’re sacrificing more.
- Under the new system, you fast because it’s a means of getting you closer to God and making you more like Jesus.
- The point isn’t any number of days for the sake of a checkmark on your spiritual list, but simply whether it gets you closer to God.
- Same action, but a world of difference.
- It’s worth noting from verse 14 that it’s not the Pharisees who are asking this question. It’s the disciples of John the Baptist.
- This isn’t just an issue of concern for the people who we know were out to get Jesus. It’s also a question for the disciples of John.
- What Jesus was doing (not fasting) was unexpected. There was a good reason for it (the celebratory nature of His presence), but it was still unexpected.
- We need to appreciate the radical newness of what Jesus is doing.
- Jesus is coming to bring a new open door.
- What Are Some Examples Of How The New Is Better Than The Old?:
1. Inclusion in God’s family is open to everyone, not just Jews.
2. A definitive answer to our sin problem through a once-for-all sacrifice, not just temporary animal sacrifices.
3. God is within us, not just in the Holy of Holies.
WHAT DOES THAT NEW WINESKIN LOOK LIKE?
- Hebrews 8:6.
1. We are saved by grace, not by keeping rules.
- Romans 3-5.
2. Salvation brings a new heart, making us new creatures.
- Romans 6-7.
3. We walk forward in the power of the Spirit.
- Romans 8.
AN ONGOING MISUNDERSTANDING: Paul spends a lot of time addressing Jewish believers who were trying to hold onto the old and the new.
- A couple examples:
a. Galatians 5:4.
- He refers to having “fallen from grace.”
- Many presume that it has to do with losing your salvation. In fact, the passage has to do with Jewish believers who had moved from living by grace back into trying to live by the Law.
- This is a discussion of the liberty that we have in Christ. Paul notes that the liberty that we have is not to be used for selfish indulgence, but that it’s an open door for us to be able to follow the Spirit.