"Not New Patches On An Old Garment!"
Mark 2:18-22 might seem like a strange conversation when we first read it, but as we study, we see Jesus made a profound point that the gospel He was preaching was unlike anything that had been taught on earth!
When Jesus was asked why His disciples didn't fast, He answered that this wasn't the time for them to fast (Mk. 2:19). His disciples would fast, but not now. The fasting they'd do wouldn't be a ritual (see: Lk. 18:12), but a genuine response to the hardship, suffering, and distress in their lives (v. 20).
Furthermore, this passage reads as if He answered a question they didn't ask (like Nicodemus, Jn. 3:3). What Jesus was doing and teaching (Acts 1:1) couldn't be compared to putting a new patch on an old garment! His teaching didn't fit the "mold" they were used to. I think about the Lord's illustration in this passage when I hear people say that in the sermon on the mount, Jesus was "fixing the Old Testament." That position is wrong. He wasn't patching up an old garment in that sermon! He was preaching about a new thing! This is why the people responded in amazement to His teaching (Matt. 7:28-29; Mk. 1:22).
Jesus extended this illustration in Mark 2 by talking about not putting "new wine into old bottles" (Mk. 2:22). I've heard some try to use this passage as justification for social drinking. Nothing could be further from the truth or the context! He was saying that what He was teaching was a brand new doctrine. It can't be placed in the "old" bottles from long ago!
Look again at the context of this passage. Christ's disciples wouldn't fast for the same reasons folks did in the past. His doctrine wasn't merely a "patch" or some kind of "improvement" on something old. It wasn't going to be able to be held in the "bottle" of the past because what Christ was teaching was something new! In fact, as we read the entire New Testament, we see how the Old Testament had been abolished, put away, done away, and ended (Matt. 5:17; Heb. 8:5-13; 2 Cor. 3:7-18; Gal. 3:21-25; etc.).
It's important that we understand this because many today don't respect the distinction between the Old and New Covenants. When we don't do that, then we aren't handling God's word accurately (2 Tim. 2:15). When we don't respect the context, then we're likely to get the teachings mixed up. No doubt, one reason there are so many religions and so many churches is that people aren't handing God's word accurately! They aren't respecting what the Lord said in Mark 2!
When the gospel message was preached in the first century, it was unlike anything this world had ever heard (Acts 2, 3; 1 Cor. 15:1-8; etc.)! The gospel revealed a plan of salvation that no one had ever heard before (Mk. 16:16). It made people something that they'd never been before (Acts 11:26). It brought them to the throne of God by "a new and living way" that people had never before accessed (Heb. 10:20). Is there any wonder that the people in Christ's day were confused at His words at times? They hadn't considered what He was saying, nor the depth of the truth He had revealed.
Since we have access to God's complete word, the Bible, let's determine to understand it (Eph. 3:4, 5:17). God inspired men to write these things (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21), and we're blessed to be able to read the truth. Let's respect the gospel and understand Jesus didn't come to this earth to put a new patch on an old garment! He came to bring us "grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14, 17)! He came to make a way to the Father (Jn. 14:6)! He came that we might be free from sin (Jn. 8:31-32, 36), and that we might have a home in Heaven when this life is over (2 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4).
The gospel of Christ is life-changing! Are you ready to be changed? Are you ready to start again (Jn. 3:3, 5; 1 Pet. 2:2)? Becoming a Christian is not merely putting some "patch" on your life, but a complete change from the inside-out (Rom. 12:1-2)! Are you ready to be a Christian (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)? Contact me, and let's do what God says to do.
Jarrod M. Jacobs