The Parable of Repairs
Matt. 9:14-17 - Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. 16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. 17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
Mark 2:18-22 - And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? 19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. 21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. 22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
Luke 5:33-39 - And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. 36 And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. 37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. 39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
Introduction: The purpose of these parables are to teach that Christ is going to turn from the nation of Israel to the church He established during His personal ministry. Christ is telling Israel that it would do no good to put new wine (which represents His “new” authority) in Israel as they have been “patched” many times. They will not hold the truth, as there is nothing to “stitch” to. It is necessary to start a new organization, the local church, which will be able to hold the truth and stretch as the truth grows.
I. The disciples of John and the Pharisees come to Christ, wanting to know why the disciples of Christ don’t fast. (I should note here, and probably later, that the disciples of John are not compromising nor joining forces with the Pharisees. Their leader, John, is in prison; therefore they are fasting. The Pharisees are fasting to be more “religious”.)
A. This question was asked on the heels of another question - The Pharisees asked the disciples why Jesus ate with publicans and sinners.
1. It is very true that the Pharisees wouldn’t “dirty themselves” by associating with such “low-life”.
2. It is also true that Christ associated with sinners all the time.
3. The problem isn’t with Christ, who associates with sinners.
4. It is with the Pharisees who don’t know they are sinners.
B. They don’t ask why they have to fast because they figure they can explain that themselves.
1. They know they fast for many reasons.
2. They fast two times every week - Monday and Thursday.
3. They fasted if it didn’t rain. (Especially after the first of October.)
a. These fasts lasted three days - Monday, Thursday, then the next Monday.
b. If it didn’t rain, they fasted three more days - Monday, Thursday, then the next Monday.
c. If it still didn’t rain, the sanhedrim appointed three days of fasting for the common people.
d. If it still didn’t rain, they added another three days.
e. If it didn’t rain yet, they added seven days of fasting.
4. They fasted for war, pestilence, sieges, all other calamities.
5. They fasted to have good dreams.
6. They fasted for many trivial things that didn’t make any difference to anybody.
C. The whole problem is that the disciples of John and the Pharisees don’t like the joy the disciples of Christ are experiencing.
1. The religion of Christ is so different from the religion of the Pharisees and the disciples of John that they are rejecting it - not on doctrinal issues, but on the lack of sorrow and bodily discomfort.
II. Jesus gives three answers.
A. Matt. 9:15 - They are not fasting because the bridegroom is with them.
1. Christ is referring to the time between His revealing Himself to His disciples and the time of His crucifixion.
2. According to Jewish tradition, the participants in a marriage (the bride and her attendants, the groom and his attendants) are free from observing the various religious feasts.
a. Christ is using the traditions of the Jews against them.
b. Using them to teach that His disciples should not observe Jewish religious holidays because they are involved in a marriage ceremony.
c. This saying of Christ should strike a chord with the Jews.
d. They believe they are the ones God loves more than anybody else.
e. It seems to me that the arguments Christ uses “goes over their heads”.
3. There will come a time when the disciples of Christ will fast.
a. That time will be when the bridegroom is taken away - at the crucifixion.
b. The disciples of John are fasting because their master is in prison, and the disciples of Christ will fast when Christ is crucified.
B. Matt. 9:16 - They are not fasting because it is not wise to use a piece of new cloth to patch an old garment.
1. In a very practical manner, it is not wise to use new cloth to patch an old garment because the new patch won’t “give” in the same manner as the material in the old garment, and will cause the old material to tear worse than it was before.
a. I remember my mother patching my work blue jeans.
b. She always kept an old pair of blue jeans to use for patching material.
c. I thought she was being frugal, but she was being wise.
2. It is also not wise to expect new converts to strictly adhere to the traditions of older believers.
a. The effects of salvation is similar to building a fire.
b. You start out with paper and small bits of wood, and there is an immediate burst of flame.
c. Soon the initial flame (the joy experienced at salvation) diminishes, and there is doubt as to whether the fire will last or not.
d. If the flame (salvation) is true, then after the initial joy is diminished, the heart of the believer settles in on some of the larger and harder doctrines (the larger pieces of wood catch fire), and there is spiritual growth, and encouragement to others.
3. I believe Christ is laying the foundation thought that the religion of the Pharisees is old, and useless.
a. The Jewish religion had departed very far from the truths originally taught.
b. The Jewish religion is just a shadow of its former self.
c. The Jews have gone so far from the truth, that it cannot even recognized as the religion of God.
d. It has become the religion of man.
4. The new cloth represents the religion of God while the old cloth represents the religion of man.
a. The two are incompatible.
b. They cannot be used together, but must be separated.
5. Put some notes here about how God has “patched” Israel over and over again, but they have constantly refused to “stay patched”.
a. Start with the times of Solomon, and trace the backslidings of Israel from that time until the time of Christ.
b. Over and over again, Israel was told to repent and change their ways, and they did for a while.
c. After a while, they would go back to their old sinful ways.
d. Now they cannot be patched again.
C. Matt. 9:17 - They are not fasting because it is not wise to put new wine in old bottles.
1. These bottles are goatskins that are sewed together, to make a vessel which would contain liquid.
a. Unfermented liquid would be put into these vessels and tightly sealed while the fermentation process took place.
b. The process of fermentation would cause the vessels to stretch.
c. The bottles couldn’t be used again because they had been stretched to their limit.
2. The Pharisees couldn’t accept the “new” religion offered by Christ because their minds had already been “tempered” to accept only their own traditions, which they called God’s religion.
a. Jesus is saying that the religion of the Pharisees have made them too “stiff” to receive true doctrines, which are very different from what they know.
b. It is my prayer that God would cause me to remain “flexible” so I can receive what He wants me to receive, and not be constrained by my traditions.
c. This is also my prayer for my church.
d. The religion of the Jews featured the old man, which was corrupt beyond description.
e. The religion of Christ featured the new man, which was redeemed from the corruption of sin.
f. The two are totally incompatible.
3. Christ called sinners to repentance, the religious Jews wouldn’t come.
a. The Jews had learned their religion their way, and refused to unlearn it so they could learn the true religion.
b. Luke 5:31,32 - And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Christ came to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous.
D. Acts 13:46 - At Antioch in Pisidia, Paul preached, but the Jews refused to heed. Paul said, “…It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”