“They asked Him, ‘John’s disciples are well-known for keeping fasts and saying prayers. Also the Pharisees. But you seem to spend most of your time at parties. Why?’ Jesus said, ‘When you are celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but this isn’t the time. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. When the groom is gone, the fasting can begin. No one throws water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come.

‘No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put wine in old cracked bottles, you get strong, clean bottles for your fresh vintage wine. And no one who has ever tasted fine aged wine prefers unaged wine.'” Luke 5:32-39.

What was that all about? Weddings; wine; mending old clothes? How did that answer their question about fasting and prayer?

John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, who had faithfully practised and taught his disciples the requirements of the religious system he represented. Part of the ritual was the daily prayers and the required fasting which he and his disciples had engaged in while he was alive. He had not been a disciple of Jesus in the sense of following Him as the Twelve were doing.

Although Luke did not record the circumstances of John’s death, we can assume that by this time Herod had killed him, and that his disciples were continuing where he left off.

Those who questioned Jesus had noticed the difference between John’s and Jesus’ disciples. While John’s followers were practicing their religion, Jesus and His disciples seemed to be a happy-go-lucky lot, going to banquets and feasting instead of fasting.

Jesus answered, using the imagery of the Old Testament Scriptures. Wine and weddings were familiar pictures of Israel and her relationship with God. At Sinai after their deliverance from Egypt, God invited His people into a marriage relationship with Himself, using wedding talk to engage their understanding of how He viewed the union He desired to have with them.

The life He offered them to return to, in spite of their persistent waywardness and spiritual adultery, was like spicing up their lives with wine. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” Isaiah 55:1 (NIV).

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came, the followers of Jesus were accused of being drunk, and they were — on the new wine of the Holy Spirit! Jesus had not come to patch up an old, worn-out religious system with “a silk scarf”. He had come to bring something altogether new, so radical in its newness that it could never be poured into the old wineskins of rules and ritual, which is what Judaism had become, another “ism” of performance which most of them could not keep up.

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of joy and celebration. They had to learn that their God is a joyful, glad God, not a mad or sad God. This was all about a wedding and at a wedding no one fasts! When Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding, He made enough of the best quality wine to keep the celebration going for many days.

Jesus had lit a fire because the kingdom of God had arrived, and He wanted no one to put it out by dousing it with old rigid practices that extinguished its joy. The wedding feast had begun, the new wine was flowing, hearts were being set ablaze because the Bridegroom had finally come!

Where do you fit in? Are you still clinging to the old stuff that makes you want to abstain? Come, join the party because the Bridegroom is here.


Luella Campbell

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