In the gospel of today, some people came to Jesus to ask the reason His disciples do not fast while the disciples of John and the Pharisees fast.
Jesus answers that as long as the bridegroom is with them, they cannot fast unless the bridegroom is taken away from them.
Jesus says that it is very absurd for one to sew a piece of an unshrunk cloth to an old garment otherwise the new piece of cloth will tear away from the old making the worse tear, and no one pours new wine into an old wineskin. It will ruin both the wine and wineskin.
In essence, Jesus is talking about himself. He has come to make everything new, so, there is no need to dwell again on the past. So, Jesus makes everything new.
The point here is that the Pharisees and the disciples of John fast because they are longing for the day God will remember Israel again through the coming of the Messiah.
Therefore, they fast so that God will restore Israel again. In essence, Jesus is using this avenue to declare himself as the bridegroom they are waiting for. Therefore, with His coming, there is no need to fast again.
When the disciples would fast again would be when the bridegroom is taken away from them in preparation for His second coming.
The Pharisees and disciples of John fast in mourning because they are yet to believe that God’s promise had been fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
So, with the advent of Jesus, they do not know that what they are expecting is already there. They do not know that what they are fasting for is already here with them.
So, Jesus makes everything new. With Jesus, old things have passed away, and the new things are here.
So, with the coming of Jesus, new things have come. Therefore, It is no longer a focus on how they fast. Now it is a relationship with the Lord.
Therefore, this is the time to focus on the Lord than on themselves and their forms of piety.
Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Law.
In the Old Testament, the mosaic law was the determinant of how holy someone is.
Everything the Jews do is determined when they follow strictly what the law says. An average Pharisee fasts twice a week ( Luke 18:12).
Hence, they think and believe that salvation seems to be from what they do. This is the reason they are proud of their self-righteousness.
Fasting at that time was a sign of true piety. So, the people who were asking this question are doing so because they do not see any evidence of the true piety prominent among the pious leaders at that time in the disciples.
Before, they accused Jesus of drinking and eating with sinners and now is the issue of fasting.
So, for Jesus, His presence is a sign of joy and not that of mourning as evidenced by the pharisaic fasting.
A bridegroom indicates the possibility of a feast. So to fast during a time of great joy and festivity would be unthinkable.
So, instead of mourning, the coming of Jesus brings joy, favour, salvation, and open doors. With Jesus, spirituality is no longer determined by outward expression or by how much we fast but by being a true disciple of Jesus, being close and connected with the Lord. This is when we would have true inner joy.
It is no longer how far we keep the law, but how close we are to Jesus. By being close to Him, doing what God demands hence becomes our way of life rather than a burden.
Old Things have passed away.
In the two parables of the new cloth and new wine, Jesus is saying that patching an old garment with new cloth is just as inappropriate as fasting at a wedding feast.
A wedding, new wine, and a new garment are all symbols of the new things Jesus comes to bring.
Therefore, going back to the old way of depending on the law, and outward expression of spirituality have given way to mercy, love, grace and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which hence come with the coming of Jesus.
So in Jesus, the mercy and love of God have taken precedence over the burden that comes with the keeping of the Law.
What God requires from us is to be close to Him. Therefore, this is the time to focus our attention on the Lord than our outward spirituality.
It is no longer how far you have fasted and paid tithes but how sincerely close, you are to God.
It is no longer how far we claim to be holy or how many times we fast every day but how sincere is our holiness. Therefore, God needs more of our relationship than pretence.
Let the Past Go.
Today, Jesus is also revealing the destructive nature of harbouring the sins, grudges, hurts and events of the past.
Jesus makes everything new, therefore, It is time to be a true disciple of Jesus and let go of the past.
He will recreate us and make us new creatures again. Allowing ourselves to be always immersed in what happened in the past will always bring problems and failure. In the new year, let us make everything new.
Forgive the past, forgive even the things you did not do well and gear up for the future. We cannot be in Jesus and continue to dwell in the past. With Jesus, we are new creatures. So, let us free ourselves from the bondage of the past.
May God bless us and give us the grace to remain close to Him. May He be with you today. Amen.