Let’s read Luke 5:33-39: “Then they said to Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?’ And He said to them, ‘Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.’ Then He spoke a parable to them: ‘No one puts a piece from a new garment on old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wines, immediately desires new; for he says, The old is better’” (NKJV).

This whole passage is a lesson on the difference between LAW and GRACE. The disciples of John and the Pharisees were still practicing fasting as prescribed by the Law. But the followers of Christ were enjoying a liberty they had never known because Christ came to introduce men to the principle of Grace. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses, but GRACE and truth came through Jesus Christ.” So, while John’s disciples and the Pharisees continued to fast according the Law, Jesus’ disciples were focused on their Messiah. Yet after Christ’s death they would indeed fast, not because the Law was commanding them to, but to express their sorrow that He had been taken from them.

The Lord proceeds by giving them a parable to illustrate how LAW and GRACE should “never be mixed together.” Again, Christ came to put men “under grace” in contrast to being “under law,” yet men often try to combine the two. Just as one should never try to patch up an “old garment” with a “new garment,” one should never add grace to law, for in doing so, both will be useless. The Lord knew that the “Old Covenant” (of Law) was being replaced by the “New Covenant” (of Grace); so in this homely lesson He is teaching us that the Old and New Covenants are diametrically opposed and no one should seek to unite them. His next “picture” teaches us the same thing, for men do not put new wine in old wineskins or both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.

His final words to them are most revealing, “And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, The old is better.” What does this mean? It means that men PREFER to be “under law” instead of “under grace.” Men (and women) would rather have a list of rules to live by, along with a set of forms and ceremonies for worshipping God. Why would they choose this over living by the grace of God, with Christ as the object of their faith? The answer is most solemn; men are by nature PROUD and believe they can please God by keeping His Law. They take great pride in DOING something to make themselves righteous before God. This is illustrated perfectly by the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12 who prayed these words, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” When men are told they are hopelessly lost and that God has, by His amazing grace, provided salvation for them, they resist this. They respond with words like, “I’m not that bad of a person, and I believe if I do the best I can I’ll be saved.” In essence they are choosing LAW over GRACE and are basically saying, “The old is better.” (229.3) (DO)