The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.MK 2:18-22
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
There is much going on in this passage that may be confusing to us. So we will go through this passage bit by bit to make sense of it.
The “John” referred to is John the Baptist. The Pharisees were scholarly Jews, who kept strict observance of the Jewish law. Fasting was seen as an important practice to atone for sin.
This story takes place early on in Mark’s gospel as Jesus is first calling his apostles to Himself and revealing Himself through signs and teachings. Some people want to follow Him, others distrust Him. Many are wondering, “Is He the Messiah?”
Jesus refers to Himself as the bridegroom. This is important. He is the Eternal Bridegroom. As we study the Scriptures, we learn what this means. Jesus is the bridegroom. The Church He establishes is the bride. He will love her and give up His body, His life for her. He will live and die so as to save her and unite her fully with Him. All who are members of the Church will share in His life, death, resurrection and ascension. All who are part of the Church will eventually be where He is, living as He lives, in eternal happiness, in the Love of the Spirit, and the presence of the Father.
Finally, when Jesus speaks of the new cloth and the old cloak, the new wine and the old wineskins, He is alerting His listeners – He is utterly new. His mission is unique. There has never been another like Him, nor will there ever be. He is the one, and the only one, to follow.
Do I realize that there never was, nor will there ever be any Savior but Jesus? Do I live my life, listening for Him? Trying to understand Him? Following Him?
For the next 5 days, keep a “journal” – notes on a phone or a piece of paper next to your bed. At the end of every day, look back on your day. Whom did you admire, emulate, want to be like? Whom did you follow and put your trust in?