Last night I was reading in Mark 2 and I came across Mark 2:18-22
18 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?” 19 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. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.21 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. 22 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 appears multiple times in the Old Testament as a law given from God to Moses, so why would Jesus question an established from his own father?
After some research, I found that the fasting that took place during the time of Jesus did not correctly follow the Law of Moses. For example, the Pharisees added the second and fourth days of every week.
The metaphor of the bridegroom connects faith to the wedding celebration in this culture. Weddings were joyful occasions, including days of feasting and dancing. During the week of the wedding celebration, joy was more important than observing religious rituals.
In John 3, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the bridegroom and says, “He who hears Him, rejoices greatly at the bridegrooms voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete” (v 29). Joy is now the staple of our relationship with Jesus, rather than the law.
The metaphor of the wineskins simply explains that the old has gone and the new has come. If you put new wine in old wineskins, it will ruin both the skins and the wine. In a commentary on this verse, Mike Feazell writes, “Today it’s still east to, try to pour the new wine of the gospel into the old wineskins of the law”
When we look around at the way grace is distributed amongst people, we see that it doesn’t come easily and that it takes a lot work. You have to work hard to love and be loved. You have to do the right things and say the right things in order to have good relationships. This type of grace makes sense to us because it is what is visible and tangible.
So we try to bring that into our relationship with God. We want a way to measure where we stand with God. We fall into thinking that if we avoid the certain, “really bad” sins, if we don’t party or have sex or do drugs, then we’re probably closer to God. If we stop trying and don’t read our bible nor hangout with our Christian friends, then we are probably farther away from God.
Yes, it is beneficial to us to avoid these sins and it is wise to have these practices, but the only person that is affected through these decisions is us.
“God’s love is unfailing and unwavering, no matter how much we fail or waver.”
God is not ignorant of all of the ways that we have sinned against him. He could count every time that we have run away from him. But his knowledge of who we really are doesn’t and won’t ever change the amount grace that he has given us.
The gospel tells us that the only thing needed to receive grace is to believe that Jesus already delivered grace and the forgiveness of sins to us through the cross.
Jesus came to fulfill the law, but also to offer us freedom from it. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for His Glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20)
He broke worship out of the mold of the temple and he became the center of worship. He became the lamb that sacrificed for our sins. Jesus cannot be added into a works-based religion.
(I used a lot of resources from really awesome smart people for this, and for my own personal study of Mark. If you want to read more about it, check them out here!)