…the bridegroom is with them… Mark 2:18-22 (ESV)
From the beginning, Jesus’ work and teaching baffled the onlookers. His lifestyle was abnormal because Jesus was introducing a ‘new normal’. However, Jesus’ model was perfect; he is the model. His data has never ‘evolved’; the message has been the same since God told Adam and Eve there would be a remedy for sin. And it would be costly. It cost Jesus’ life and it costs everything for those who choose to follow the Jesus model. But those followers will never be disappointed in life with Jesus nor in the hope we have. This new normal is GOOD NEWS, the best news.
In this passage, John’s disciples and the Pharisees wanted to know why Jesus’ disciples were not fasting. Jesus used three perplexing examples to explain why his followers were not observing the normal religious customs. This seemed dismissive of honored traditions and continued to be a thorn in the side of his opposition. Yet Jesus consistently distanced himself from the customs in order to reveal what was more important.
Fasting at a wedding, old patches on new cloth, and new wine in old skins. These things just are not done! The examples give a hint about what was to come. Who would fast when the bridegroom was present at the wedding? Jesus is making a subtle but plain statement about himself. His disciples did not need to fast because the Savior was with them in the flesh. This was something that had been prophesied and taught throughout Jewish history, but somehow it was not caught by the religious leaders when Jesus was with them. We might learn from those leaders, whose noses were buried in the teachings and traditions, lest we also miss the message.
Old patches on new cloth? That’s crazy. New cloth does not need patches. The new Kingdom and the new life that Jesus brings does not come from the traditions. They were forms, put in place to train, or hold the world in place because of sin, until the time was right for Jesus to do his work. The new cloth for us could be the pure white garment of salvation that is Jesus’ gift.
Finally, one does not put new wine in old wine skins; any good steward during Jesus time knew this. Jesus brings a new way, a new faith and a new kingdom. It will be so sweet and powerful that only new skins, i.e. renewed hearts and minds, will be able to hold it. Only salvation in Jesus affords us a new life, free from sin. He gives us that life and then he enters our life, dwelling with us as our guide and comforter. That new life will be able to contain the joy of Jesus as well as reflect his joy to others. May you find your new normal in Jesus.