This question was emailed to me…

HI Pastor Steve-

My question I hope will not be as ambiguous as “How does the Holy Spirit work in our current lives” like I asked you last time; I realized that was a tad too broad – but I had my DATE with God last week and have started reading Luke – just finished John – and at the end of Luke Chapter 5 vs 33- 39 is where I have a question.

 In my bible it is entitled “Question about Fasting” – and I believe the context is that some people where concerned that Jesus’s disciples were not fasting enough as other disciples in that day or region. I do understand in verse 35 about the bridegroom being taken away and fasting then (which I think means that after Jesus dies they will fast – right?) My question is this – in verse 36 Jesus tells a parable about patching an old coat with a new coat and then talks about not putting new wine in old wine skins. In v.39 he then says you don’t want new wine after drinking old wine – the old is better you say. What does this story mean – I am confused. And what does it have to do with fasting or about Jesus??

Can you help? A simple answer will be great!



Here’s my response…


Great question.

Whenever you read a section of scripture you have to catch the flow of what has come before it and what comes after it. This is the context. In Luke 4-5, Luke, the author, is setting the tone for Jesus’ ministry.

These chapters contain a string of stories where Jesus does amazing things: heals the sick, casts out demons, brings an amazing catch of fish, cleanses a leper, heals a paralytic, and — most amazing of all — loves a tax collector and makes him a follower.

These were radical things that caught the attention of the religious establishment. Jesus was breaking the rules and going outside of the box, so they started questioning his integrity. One area of religious piety for the Pharisees was the regular practice of fasting. They felt they were attacking Jesus’ love for God by pointing out that he was hanging around with sinners and his followers didn’t fast.

vv. 34-35, in my opinion, are Jesus’ direct response to the specific issue of fasting. Vv. 36-39, however, are Luke’s way of summing up the whole section of chapters 4-5. Jesus is doing a new thing in Israel. It is time for new wine — a new way of being in the world. The “old wine” of the Pharisees had run its course. If you want to do something new — to have new wine that is not yet finished fermenting — you have to put it into a container that has the ability to stretch and morph to the shape of the maturing wine. In other words, following Jesus will require breaking the religious rules of the “old wine” and will require God’s people to find new patterns for life that are flexible and adaptive to the new world.

People who like the “old wine” will hate the new wine, unfortunately. And, as Jesus found out, they hate it so much they are willing to kill to get rid of it.

Does this help?

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