18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
The main point of this section is Jesus declaring that he doesn't fit into the structures of the Mosaic Law (mostly described in Deuteronomy and Leviticus). This brings into view the big picture question of Jesus' relationship to the Law. This is obviously a huge topic and a very important one at that.
There is a lot of continuity between the testaments, along with a lot of discontinuity. Jesus states in Matthew 5:17, "I have not come to abolish the the [Law and the Prophets] but to fulfill them." Jesus came to bring the Law to it's divinely intended end in the sense of it's binding obligation. The whole law points to him. Jesus life and mission makes little sense without the Old Testament. Jesus is the Messiah, the sacrificial lamb, the great high priest. All of these makes no sense without the OT narrative. Yet there is a great deal of discontinuity as well. The Sabbath laws were challenged in the texts following this passage. The dietary laws were changed by Jesus in Mark 7 and Peter's vision in Acts 10 so the gospel could expand to the Gentiles. The people of God has expanded to be all of the church beyond solely the nation, state of Israel. All of these led Paul to write in Galatians 3:23-25: 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian."
So we are left with the conclusion that Jesus fulfilled the law. So when we read the OT we must always read it in the context of Jesus, noting how each event points to the need of a Messiah, a once and for all atonement for sin, a good king, God with us. Outside of Jesus the OT is a story left incomplete. It needs an ending. Without the coming of the Messiah there is no good ending.
In the OT Law we learn a lot about God and about the demands of holiness. We learn that we are completely incapable of living up to those standards. Therefore, we need a savior. But what of morals and religious practices? Of course the NT speaks of moral issues a lot. It is my view that we are obligated to live according to the standards of the OT in as much as they are reaffirmed in the NT. We are obligated to uphold them becuase Jesus and NT authors reaffirm them. We even find Jesus making some laws more difficult to uphold. "
In Jesus we learn that morals don't make us right with God. It's only by his sacrifice that we are justified. His righteousness is imputed to us apart from our own morality. Although this teaching is present in the OT sacrificial system Jesus makes it explicitly clear and undeniable. So we are not moral to earn God's favor; we are moral because God has given us his favor.
When it comes to religious practices like Sabbath, baptism, communion, and fasting, they are put into their proper place with Jesus as well. He doesn't reject the use of them. Instead, he emphasizes that they are to be used to enrich our faith without the excessive, restricting rules. So we are free to practice fasting and Sabbath rest as a way of strengthening our faith and enriching our communion with God. We will address this again on Thursday when we talk about Sabbath and when we come to Mark 7.
<aside> 📽 Brand: New by Andy Stanley
<aside> ⚠️ This is a RightNow Media video study. If you don't yet have access to RightNow Media please email me and I'll get you set up.
<aside> 📽 Keep the Ten Commandments? Yes and No by D.A. Carson
<aside> 📃 Making Sense of Scriptures 'Inconsistencies' by Tim Keller
<aside> ⚠️ In the above article Keller takes the view of the laws beind divided into 3 categories: civil, ceremonial and moral. I don't hold this view but it is certianly sustainable and a view Christians can hold.
<aside> 📃 Bible Project Page on the Law
<aside> 📃 Bible Project Page on the Covenants