Summary: We all have a tendency to reject a new idea, or a new revelation of truth because we like the old too much. Like an old, stiff wineskin, our hearts and minds can calcify until we become so inflexible we can’t accept change.
Have you ever known someone who was a chronic whiner? They are constantly whining about their health or the weather, or what’s going on in Washington. Do you know someone like that? Now, do you think anybody was thinking about YOU?
Chronic whiners and complainers are everywhere. I came across a list of actual complaints that were sent to a travel company.
(1) “On my holiday to Mumbai, India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”
(2) “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”
(3) “No one told us there would be fish in the ocean. The children were scared.”
(4) “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they all spoke Spanish.”
(5) “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”
(6) “We bought ‘Ray-ban’ sunglasses for $3 from a vendor outside the hotel and discovered they were fake.”
You’ve heard of a Diner’s Club Card. Did you know that you can now get a Whiner’s Club Card? It says, “Tired of putting on a happy face? Well, so are we! Luckily, you’ve joined the Whiner’s Club. You now have the exclusive right to gripe, groan and moan about your job, money healthy, friends, and sex life. Possibilities are endless! So wipe that silly grin off your face and get ready to drive the world crazy with your constant sniveling. You owe it to yourself to let the REAL YOU be heard.” Do you know someone who needs that card? Do YOU need one?
In our passage we’re going to discover there was a group of religious whiners who followed Jesus around complaining about what he did and said.
Mark 2:18-22. “Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, ‘How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?’ Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.’”
The Pharisees were professional whiners. They followed Jesus around like the moral police and criticized every He did and said. In the previous passage, they whined that Jesus had hung out with sinners and outcasts at a party Matthew had thrown. Jesus and His disciples were the party-goers and the Pharisees were the party-poopers.
In this passage, they hammer Jesus with another complaint. They whined, “John the Baptist’s disciples fast, and of course, we fast, but your boys aren’t very religious; we don’t ever see you fasting!” Jesus took their complaint and responded with three mini-parables. The word parable means “para-bole.” It means to through alongside. When Jesus told a parable, He told a natural story; then beside it, He tossed down a deep spiritual truth. Some of His Parables are long and famous like the parable of the Prodigal Son, or the parable of the Good Samaritan. But these three parables are only a few words. But they have some explosive truth for us. The first parable is about a wedding party. The second one is about a patch, and the third one is about wineskins.
1. A WEDDING FEAST ISN’T THE TIME TO FAST
John the Baptist’s disciples fasted regularly and so did the Pharisees. They were upset that Jesus’ disciples were partying while they were suffering. The Pharisees fasted two days a week, but they fasted simply as an outward display of their goodness. They weren’t fasting for God’s sake; they were fasting to be seen by others.
Fasting is a wonderful spiritual discipline. Jesus fasted and prayed often—but it wasn’t a ritual designed for others to see. The Pharisees whitened their faces and piled ashes on their hair and moaned and groaned so everyone would know they were “spiritual.” In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.” Instead Jesus said, “When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)