Mark – God is on our side!
As a pastor, my husband has performed many marriages. Because I am either playing the piano or standing by to help, we both get a front row seat to see all the emotions that rise to a climax on the groom’s face when the bride walks in, dressed in a lot of white, with a nervous smile on her face. The dad who escorts her is usually tearful but hanging in there as he brings her to the groom. In the symbolism of the dad taking the hand of his daughter and putting it into the hand of the groom, he is publicly showing that these “two will leave father and mother and now become one”.
After this formal ceremony which includes many symbols of our faith in our Heavenly Father, if it is performed in a church setting planned by believers, a party follows. Relatives and dear friends come to celebrate the bride and the groom coming together at last. Can you imagine a wedding fast? It WOULD be cheaper…but I don’t know of anyone who has planned a fast after a wedding ceremony.
In our passage today, Jesus explains to the critics that HE is the groom who has come. (Believers are the “bride of Christ.) While Jesus, “the Groom”, is here on earth, should they fast? NO, “They can’t fast while the groom is with them.”
Mark 2, NLT
A Discussion about Fasting
18 Once when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, “Why don’t your disciples fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do?”
19 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. 20 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
21 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.
22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”
GOING DEEPER STILL…
Jesus had already made it clear that He came to convert the sinners, not to compliment the self-righteous. Now He told them that he had come to bring gladness, not sadness. Thanks to the legalism imposed by the scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish religion had become a burdensome thing. The poor people were weighed down by rules and regulations that were impossible to obey (Matt. 23:4). “Life is not supposed to be a funeral!” Jesus told them. “God wants life to be a wedding feast! I am the Bridegroom and these people are My wedding guests. Are not wedding guests supposed to have a good time?”
The Jews knew that marriage was one of the pictures used in the Old Testament to help explain Israel’s relationship to the Lord. They had been “married to Jehovah” and they belonged only to Him (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 31:32). When the nation turned to foreign gods, as they often did, they committed “spiritual adultery.” They were unfaithful to their Husband, and they had to be disciplined. The major theme of Hosea is God’s love for His adulterous wife and His desire to restore the nation to His favor once again.
John the Baptist had already announced that Jesus was the Bridegroom (John 3:29), and our Lord had performed His first miracle at a joyous marriage feast (John 2:1–11). Now He was inviting people to come to the wedding! After all, becoming a Christian is not unlike entering into the marriage relationship (see Rom. 7:4—“that ye should be married to another”). Two people are not married just because they know each other, or even because they have strong feelings about each other. In order to be married, they must commit themselves to each other and make this commitment known. In most societies, the man and woman publicly affirm this commitment when each says, “I do!”
Salvation from sin involves much more than a person knowing about Christ, or even having “good feelings” toward Christ. Salvation comes when the sinner commits himself or herself to Jesus Christ and says, “I do!” Then the believer immediately enters into the joys of this spiritual marriage relationship: bearing His name, sharing His wealth and power, enjoying His love and protection, and one day living in His glorious home in heaven. When you are “married to Christ,” life becomes a wedding feast, in spite of trials and difficulties.
Mark 2:20 is a hint of our Lord’s anticipated death, resurrection, and return to heaven. It is unlikely that His disciples, at that early stage in their training, even understood what He meant. However, Jesus was not suggesting that His absence from earth would mean that His followers would have to replace the feast with a funeral! He was only pointing out that occasional fasting would be proper at a future time, but that joyful celebration should be the normal experience of believers.
AND ABOUT THOSE WINESKINS….(vv. 21–22). Jesus taught two important lessons about His ministry: (1) He came to save sinners, not to call the religious; and (2) He came to bring gladness and not sadness. The third lesson is this: He came to introduce the new, not to patch up the old.
The religious leaders were impressed with our Lord’s teaching, and perhaps they would have been happy to make some of His ideas a part of their own religious tradition. They were hoping for some kind of compromise that would retain the best of pharisaic Judaism and the best of what Christ had to offer. But Jesus exposed the folly of that approach. It would be like tearing patches from a new unshrunk garment and sewing them on an old garment You would ruin the new garment, and when the old garment was washed, the patches would shrink, rip away, and ruin that garment too (note Luke 5:36–39). Or, it would be like putting newunfermented wine in old brittle wineskins. As soon as the wine began to ferment and the gases formed, the old skins would burst—and you would lose both the wine and the skins.
Jesus came to usher in the new, not to unite with the old. The Mosaic economy was decaying, getting old, and ready to vanish away (Heb. 8:13). Jesus would establish a new covenant in His blood (Luke 22:19–20). The law would be written on human hearts, not on stones (2 Cor. 3:1–3; Heb. 10:15–18), and the indwelling Holy Spirit would enable God’s people to fulfill the righteousness of the law (Rom. 8:1–4).
By using this illustration, Jesus refuted once and for all the popular idea of a compromising “world religion.” Well-meaning but spiritually blind leaders have suggested that we take “the best” from each religion, blend it with what is “best” in the Christian faith, and thus manufacture a synthetic faith that would be acceptable to everybody. But the Christian faith is exclusive in character; it will not accept any other faith as its equal or its superior. “There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Salvation is not a partial patching up of one’s life; it is a whole new robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10; 2 Cor. 5:21). The Christian life is not a mixing of the old and the new; rather, it is a fulfillment of the old in the new.
Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, types, and demands of the law of Moses. The law was ended at Calvary when the perfect sacrifice was once offered for the sins of the world (Heb. 8—10). When you trust Jesus Christ, you become part of a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and there are always new experiences of grace and glory. How tragic when people hold on to dead religious tradition when they could lay hold of living spiritual truth. Why cherish the shadows when the reality has come (Heb. 10:1)? In Jesus Christ we have the fulfillment of all that God promised (2 Cor. 1:20).
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for fulfilling the Old Law and ushering in the New and only Way to You. Thank you, Jesus, for explaining the purpose and mission of your work to claim us as your bride. We know you are coming back to claim us as your own. I cannot wait to see the look in your eyes on that momentous occasion! We shall behold you in all of your glory!
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
WE SHALL BEHOLD HIM…sing with me….
The sky shall unfold
Preparing His entrance
The stars shall applaud Him
With thunders of praise
The sweet light in His eyes, shall enhance those awaiting
And we shall behold Him, then face to face
O we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory
O we shall behold Him, yes we shall behold Him
Face to face, our Savior and Lord
The angel will sound, the shout of His coming
And the sleeping shall rise, from there slumbering place
And those remaining, shall be changed in a moment
And we shall behold him, then face to face
We shall behold Him, o yes we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory
We shall behold Him, face to face
Our Savior and Lord
We shall behold Him, our Savior and Lord
Savior and Lord!