Matthew 9:16-17

“No one patches an old coat with a new piece of cloth that will shrink. When the patch shrinks, it will rip away from the coat, and the tear will become worse. Nor do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, people pour new wine into fresh skins, and both are saved.”


Sometimes, after Jesus had given a parable or analogy as an answer, he should take his disciples aside and explain its meaning. He did not do that here, and I wish he had!

John’s disciples had asked him why his disciples didn’t fast. He had answered with an analogy about a bridegroom. I understood that answer. However, he went on to say today’s scripture about patches and wineskins. While what he said made sense in the natural world, I didn’t understand how they answered the question about fasting.

So, since I was missing the spiritual meaning, I considered what his answer meant in the physical world.

  1. New cloth on an old coat. Tailors and dressmakers know that many fabrics need to be laundered before cutting and sewing. Washing the fabric causes It to shrink. Therefore, it should be preshrunk so that measurements remain accurate. Knowing that, it makes sense to not use a non-preshrunk fabric to path fabric that had already shrunk.
  2. New wine into old wineskins. Wineskins are exactly what It sounds like, a container made of skin that its used to hold wine and other liquids. As anything made of leather ages it becomes thinner and brittle. New wine is still fermenting and releasing gasses. If you pour new wine into an old wineskin the gasses would cause the skin to expand like a balloon and rupture which would destroy both the bag and the wine.

Now I believe that I understand Jesus was saying that adding new to old can be destructive. His disciples were rough men of the world, not raised in the strict religious practices of the Pharisees. To impose such strict practices as fasting on them, when they are not ready for them, would be counterproductive.

Notice that Jesus said, “The time will come when the groom will be taken away from them. Then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15) There would come a time when his disciples lives would lose their worldly ways and would become more able to accept such spiritual practices as fasting.

Lord, give us wisdom and maturity in the faith that we may full partake of all you’ve laid before us.

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