25th February 2023
Read (Matthew 9v14-17)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
Do you remember John the Baptist? He was the forerunner of Christ who was sent to prepare the way for the Lord. He was like a trumpet blast before the arrival of the King or the best-man at a wedding pointing to the bridegroom. John knew this but his disciples had some questions. They had noticed that they and the Pharisees both fasted but Christ's disciples did not (v14) and wanted an explanation for this discrepancy.
To answer their question, Jesus used three examples. Firstly, He said that wedding guests don't mourn when the bridegroom is with them. They will mourn and fast when he is gone but certainly not as long as He remains (v15). In veiled terms Jesus made it clear that He was the bridegroom and the Messiah, a new age had dawned. Why would His disciples mourn and fast when He was still with them?
Secondly, Jesus used the imagery of clothing. You don't try to fix a hole by stitching unshrunken cloth onto an old garment. In such an instance the patch would tear away from the old shrunken garment and make the tear greater (v16). Thirdly, you don't put new wine into old wineskins. New wine is still in the process of fermenting and the gases produced would cause the old brittle wineskins to burst causing both the wine and the wineskin to be lost (v17). Instead new wine is put into new wineskins and both are saved.
We are unfamiliar with such imagery in this modern age but Christ's point is clear - something new had come in the person and work of Christ. With the coming of the Bridegroom, the Messiah had arrived and He would do a remarkable saving work at Calvary. Jesus didn't come to improve Judaism or to add an extension to the Temple or introduce a rival sect to the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Gospel wasn't a temporary patch on the Old Covenant made with Moses. Nor would the Gospel find a home in the old wineskins from Mount Sinai.
Instead Jesus came to fulfil the law and prophets and to lay down His life as a ransom for many. The Gospel would leave the borders of national Israel and be carried to the Gentile nations around the world. All would see that Christ is the true Israel, the greater Moses, the true Temple and the guarantor of a better covenant. What is this better covenant? We call it the New Covenant and it is the Covenant of Grace fulfilled in Christ.
The Bridegroom has gone and for a little while we fast and mourn but by faith we long for and expect Christ's glorious return. This is the age that we find ourselves in and these are days of amazing grace. Even so we say "Come quickly Lord Jesus!"
Q86 What is faith in Jesus Christ? Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.