MARK CHAPTER 2: BRIDEGROOMS AND REST DAYS
“The wedding guest cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they do not fast. But the days are coming when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and at that time they will fast. No one shows a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins will be destroyed. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.” (NET)
I have noticed that when many people first come across this teaching, we tend to get a bit confused because of the language. In today’s words, I think we today have a close saying to the point Jesus is making in the passage: “Out of sight, out of mind.”
I think this is basically what Jesus is getting at. When someone or something is present to focus on, there is no need to take extra precautions. Moreover, such precautions can be a negative force when someone or something is present because it will cause less focus rather than more. Jesus does not want His disciples distracted by things that do not matter. In fact, in view of the verses below, the Pharisees and others were masters of being distracted away from God.
In addition, fasting is a spiritual discipline that is meant to bring a soul closer to God. The disciples of Jesus do not need to fast because He is right before them. Later, when Jesus is gone and the Church is ushered in as the “bride of Christ” (making Him the bridegroom), they will need to fast and do new things and worship in new ways provided by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. He will provide them new wine and new wineskins and then they can fast and focus on what He has done for them.
“The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath”
By the time Jesus was born, there were so many strict rules (‘melachot’) about what was not allowed on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a chore (pun intended) to keep the way the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law dictated. Jesus says directly that the rest day was made for people.
This day is a day of rest and to honor and worship the Lord. Where the presence of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17). The Sabbath is a free day to sink deep into God’s presence and experience all He has to offer. The fact is that when we are doing God’s will, we are free. When we are in line with God’s will, we are free. There is freedom and provision provided to those serving within the ministry of reconciliation who obey the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus’ point is that Sabbath laws and the rest day itself were meant for the benefit of the people, not as a chore.
‘The extra laws and pressure added by the Teachers of the Law were not necessary and defeated the purpose of the freedom found in God’s rest. Their laws also do not circumvent God’s original design, which is what Jesus is advocating.