Matthew 9:14-17 Both Are Preserved

Matthew 9:14-17                    Both Are Preserved                                       WC McCarter



We will pick up where we left off last week with Jesus saying, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” This kind of ministry will turn the Jewish world upside down. The Pharisees and Scribes do not comprehend it, not even the disciples of John can come to an understanding. Jesus has already weathered an attack from the Pharisees. They were not bold enough to face Jesus with their scorn, but went to Christ’s disciples instead. Now Jesus will be faced with a critical question from the disciples of John the baptizer.


Jesus will answer the immediate, smaller question and then go on to describe the bigger picture. So often we get caught up with the small stuff and completely miss the large. We spend a lot of time packing a suitcase, but we miss the boat. You see, the Pharisees and John’s disciples had one thing in common. Both groups were extreme legalists. They were excessive in their rule-keeping, and their laws came from not only the Old Testament, but also the traditions that they had established. They spent so much time tending to the details of the Law that they completely missed the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among them.


READ Scripture- This is the Word of God


Question and Answer vv14-15

The Law of Moses only commanded that God’s people fast on one particular day, the Day of Atonement. Yet, the custom of the Pharisees and disciples of John was to practice fasting on a regular basis, even twice a week. Probably on several occasions the strict, legalistic Jews of the Pharisees and disciples of John found themselves fasting while Jesus and His disciples were feasting. It was so outrageous that Jesus’ disciples did not fast that the disciples of John put themselves in a category with the Pharisees, a group of which they were very critical. Remember, it was John who said to the Pharisees, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. . . .” I mean every good, law-keeping, righteous Jew fasted often; even twice a week. Yet, Jesus and His group had never been known to fast. This is strange, if not scandalous.


Jesus responds to the question with a question of His own. He answers allegorically, but the truth is apparent. There are plenty of times in life to mourn, but a wedding is not one of those times. A groom’s buddies are not going to grieve while they are with their friend. They are going to celebrate. They are going to enjoy themselves. “The bridegroom’s [friends] cannot be fasting while the feasting is at its height!” (Morris, 224). Jesus says that as long as He is present, the disciples have no reason to mourn. They have no reason to fast. Then Jesus foreshadows His coming death and future ascension back to heaven. That will be a time for fasting. The book of Acts tells us that the early Christians did spend time fasting.


Biblical Christianity is not about religious performance, but about faith. It is not our accomplishments to which God responds. The Father responds to the accomplishments of Christ. Thus, we are to trust in what Christ has done and not in ourselves.


Connective: Jesus has now answered the direct question, but He will go on to give the men more than they were asking for. He will tell them what they really need to know.


Unshrunk Cloth on an Old Garment v16

I have some old jeans that have holes in them. I wear them to work in. I went and bought some of the iron-on patches and followed the directions line by line, but down to the last patch they all fell off. This would hold true especially of materials in the New Testament times. A garment would shrink when it was washed and it would become worn over time. Now if you took a new piece of cloth that had not been shrunk and placed it on the old garment, what would happen? The first time the garment was washed the patch would shrink. There would be tension, and the tension would tear the garment even more. The hole would become larger.


The ministry of the Lord Jesus was not going to be a patch for traditional, legalistic Judaism.


New Wine into Old Wineskins v17

New wine refers to wine that is still fermenting. Old wineskins refers to a container that is practically worn out. In ancient times, people would make liquid containers out of animal skins, usually goats. They would skin the animal, tie up the feet and neck, and leave a small opening. Fermenting wine would have lots of pressure from the gases. New skins have flexibility, they have some stretch. An old skin loses that stretch and cannot withstand the pressure from new, still fermenting wine. The pressure would cause an old skin to burst. If that happens, you have lost both the wine and the skin. What people would do is put new wine into a new skin so that both are preserved.


The new wine of faith in Christ cannot be poured into the old wineskins of traditional Judaism.


Notice that Jesus does not completely do away with structure (wineskins). There are new skins for the new wine. We are not under law but under grace. We live in the age of the Spirit. He has come to dwell within all those who have accepted Christ by faith. He writes the law of Christ, the royal law, upon our hearts. This is the new skin in which the new wine is poured.



This is the point in the sermon when you are supposed to say, “So what?”


First, we do not have to do “religious” things because everyone else is doing them.

            Many of the “righteous” Jews of the first century fasted, but Jesus’ group did not.

Second, have you noticed the new vs. old idea?

Jesus was not going to force the new work He was doing into the old frame. Attempting to patch the old would have made an even worse tear from the tension. Attempting to pour the new into the old would have caused so much pressure that both the old and the new would have been lost.

Now let’s get real personal and practical. What is it in your life that you will not do away with? Is God doing a new thing, but you won’t let go of the old? The tension and pressure will only build if you don’t realize that you need a new frame for this new work. What is it that needs to be done in this church, but we are trying to force it into our tradition to the detriment of both?