“Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:18-22
As Jesus’ ministry gains traction, this passage helps us see that he is the promised Lord–the God of all who longs to be united to the true Israel in fidelity and passion like a husband to his wife. Key verses that prophesied this are found in Isaiah 62:1-5 and Hosea 2:19-20. Both sections describe the coming day when God’s presence will be so intrinsically bound and connected with His people that no other metaphor is sufficient to describe it–hence the husband/wife imagery we see here. To be certain, in this passage Jesus is making a claim to be God Himself, for this role was for no other than the Lord of His people.
This introduces us to something almost too good to believe. As a follower of Jesus, God is fiercely committed to you. Think of it like this: If you could take all the love, passion, devotion, and faithfulness that every newly wed husband has for his bride from all of human history combined–and bottle it all up and put it in one person, it still doesn’t compare with the amount of love and care that Jesus has for you.
Then Jesus challenges us to live in the light of this reality. And when we do, we can no longer live as before. That’s the point about the piece of cloth being sewn onto an old garment; or the new wine being put into old wineskins. They simply won’t do.
Everything has to be completely different. In other words, you can’t just “apply” Jesus to your life. You can’t add him like a patch to your dreams and desires. He must now be the epitome of your dreams and desires. Nothing else compares–hence the new cloth and the new wineskins that are needed.
I remember a few years ago a certain car commercial for an SUV. It showed a man buying the SUV and driving it all over the world in a mosaic of various adventures (think of the desert sands of the Sahara and the jungles of the Amazon). All the while, his clothes are becoming more and more ragged, his appearance unkempt, and his beard gets longer and longer. But he’s loving every minute of it–for now his life is complete. Each new adventure is in answer to a whisper-like call from above that beckons “Go Farther!”
The commercial ends with the man on a make-shift wooden raft floating with his beloved SUV down an unknown river in some forgotten place. As he’s standing there in complete satisfaction, the voice from above now sounds, “Too Far!” as the man suddenly and unexpectedly nears a waterfall.
I think if we’re honest, most of us are fearful of this very possibility. We afraid to really risk it all for Christ in reckless abandon, ever seeking to answer the call to “Go Farther!” because we’re fearful that one day we’ll have pushed the limits too far only to find ourselves perilously going over a water fall in hopeless horror.
But when you know God as your Husbandman, things change. When you can rest in the fierce love and faithfulness that Christ has for you–you can never go too far. You wake up everyday knowing that no matter happens, you belong to the King. And He knows how to take care of who belongs to Him.
Go ahead, get in the SUV of your new-found faith in Christ. Commit yourself in a fresh way to follow him on a path of adventure to who knows where. You’ll never hear the words “Too Far!”–but one day you might just hear him say, “Well done!”
1. On a scale of 1-10, how much of this passage do you honestly relate to? What would it take to bump it up a notch?
2. Do you know of anyone who lives by this passage? What can you learn from them about following Jesus?
3. What’s holding you back from a fresh faith commitment to Christ? How is it holding you back? What is Jesus challenging you to do about that right now?