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Let’s begin by reading Matthew 9:14-15, “Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”

Fasting was a common practice among the Jews at this time.  It literally means to abstain from food.  It was normally associated with mourning as we see in Nehemiah 1:4, “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.”  It was also used as a time when strong prayers for strength and guidance were made to the Lord.  When the disciples found themselves unable to cast out demons, the Lord told them in Matthew 17:21, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”  In the portion before us, we see that fasting was associated with mourning.  The disciples of John the Baptist approached the Lord and asked Him why His disciples did not fast, even though John’s disciples and the Pharisees fasted.  The Lord’s answer was excellent.  Why should there be mourning, indicated by fasting, in the wedding party when the bridegroom is present?  This is not a time for mourning, this is a time for joy and celebration.  The Lord Jesus was the bridegroom and His disciples were His wedding guests. 

Of course, the Lord pointed out in verse 15 that, “…the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”  The Lord was taken from the presence of His disciples by His death on Calvary, His resurrection, and then ascension back to Heaven.  So, the Lord is no longer with us physically; and while He Lord doesn’t demand that we fast today, He certainly approves of it when we fast in an appropriate manner. 

Now let’s continue and read Matthew 9:16-17where the Lord says, “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”  The Lord pointed out that it was unsuitable to mourn in the presence of the bridegroom.  The joy of the wedding feast and mourning just do not belong together.  In the Lord’s illustration here, he points out how inappropriate it is to mix certain old things with certain new things.  Sewing a new piece of cloth onto an old garment will only make the tear in the old garment worse.  To put new wine in old bottles would only cause the bottles to burst as the fermentation process caused too much pressure for the old bottles.  It is proper to put new wine in new bottles. 

In a deeper meaning, the Lord was pointing out that a new dispensation was about to begin.  John the Baptist was the fore-runner of Christ, and the day of the law was drawing to a close.  This new ‘Day of Grace’ was upon them.  The principles of the law and of grace do not belong together.  As believers in this present dispensation, we are not under the law.  In speaking of this very topic, we read of the New Testament, or covenant, in Hebrews 8:13, “…A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”  Speaking of the law, Paul wrote in Galatians 3:24-25, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” 

Paul strongly warns those believers who now seek to put themselves under the old law.  We read in Galatians 5:1-4, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”  My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are not under the law; rather we live under the principle of grace.  What a difference!  What a blessing!  (140.6)