John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So 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 in that day. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” (mark 2:18–22; emphasis added)
When you see an advertisement splashed with the word “new,” what is the ad agency trying to tell you? Do you ever find that those “new” products aren’t all that new after all? It’s easy to be skeptical about such things.
But when the movie Vantage Point was released in 2008, it offered a truly new approach to plotline. The same story was told repeatedly, but from eight different perspectives. With each retelling, new pieces of information were uncovered. Each time you felt like you knew what had really happened—until the next perspective exposed a flaw in that assumption. Only in the end, with all the strands of perspective woven together, was the truth revealed. It was a different kind of film and genuinely lived up to the definition of new.
The problem with something truly new is that it confuses us. We struggle to understand the dramatic change taking place. This is the kind of problem that creates the third “why” question of Mark 2.
This time, the question comes from the crowd, not from the religious leaders (mark 2:18–22). The people don’t appear to be testing or attacking Jesus, but rather are genuinely confused. They witness two radically different models of how to be in relationship with God. John’s followers and the Pharisee’s disciples fasted. In contrast, Jesus and His disciples feasted.
This question follows on the heels of an accusation against Jesus: He is associating with “those people.” He is partying with the great unwashed. “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” (v. 16). The next question drives even deeper. Why is He eating at all? The people ask: “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” (v. 18).
Though elsewhere Jesus acknowledges fasting as appropriate in its time and place, His response here paints a series of pictures of the reality that they clearly do not see. Something new is going on that deserves to be celebrated! This thing is as new as a new family celebrated in a wedding. It is as new as a garment that needs no repair. It is as new as fresh wine in a never-before-used wineskin.
In each case, there is something taking place that the people don’t grasp. Through Jesus, God the Father is in the process of making everything new. That reality is played out throughout the New Testament. Individual hearts are made new (2 corinthians 5:17). Relationships rooted in His love are being made new (john 13:34). One day, everything in the created realm will be made new (revelation 21:1–4).
No wonder our God says, “Behold, I am making all things new” (revelation 21:5). The point is that Jesus is feasting because this new thing that God is doing deserves to celebrated. In fact, the Father Himself celebrates it. Luke 15 gives us three stories of lost things that are found. In a sense, they are made new, and are a picture of God’s lost creatures (us) being “found.” Jesus affirms, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (luke 15:10).
Who is in the presence of the angels? Is not the Father there? Is He not celebrating the lost being found and the old being made new?
Jesus feasted with His disciples in celebration of the grand new thing the Father was doing—and He was reveling it! This is a marvelous thought, that our God not only makes everything new, He celebrates the new things He is doing in us and for us. We should celebrate as well.
“New” can be disorienting and confusing, but when God does a new thing, especially in the lives of the people He loves, we can and must join in the celebration.
Why Is He Feasting Instead of Fasting?