“How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
- Matthew 9:15-17
There was a problem in Jesus' day that everyone acknowledged. Israel was under occupation by Rome. Israel as a people were not yet free of the sort of behaviours that led to captivity to Babylon. Israel was not experiencing the blessing of the promised land. There was the problem of unfaithfulness among a people called to be faithful.
Here in the context of Matthew 9, we are confronted by three different groups who take issue with Jesus. (Teachers of law -v3, the Pharisees v11, and John’s the baptists disciples v14). Each of these groups had a particular way of living out their righteousness and faithfulness to Torah. The teachers of the law practiced a righteousness that was deeply tied to the Temple’s sacrificial system. The Pharisees practiced a righteousness that excluded sinners. And John’s disciples practiced fasting as evidence that they were the sort of people whom were faithful.