18 And the disciples of John and the Pharisees are fasting; and they are coming and saying to him, “Why are the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fasting, but your disciples are not fasting?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the sons of the wedding hall are not able to fast, are they? As long as they are having the bridegroom with them, they are not able to fast. 20 “But days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 “No one sews a patch of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear happens. 22 ” And No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into unused wineskins.”
the old ways and the new wine
Jesus had been teaching about a new coming kingdom, and his disciples had been seeking that. But the followers of the old ways had a problem. They could not understand why Jesus refused to appropriate their traditions into his. Jesus used three different metaphors to get his point across: the bridegroom, the cloth, and the new wine. His point was that the kingdom teaching was something new, and the old traditions did not fit with it. That was particularly true during the short time that Jesus, the bridegroom/king was present among his people. It was not a time for mourning. The time for mourning would come later, after Jesus returns to heaven.
Living in New Zealand, I have gained an appreciation for ruts. The sheep leave long trails wherever they go, because they follow each other, so a large green hill will have a few chosen ruts which it is obvious the sheep have used over and over again. It is the nature of sheep to do this, and it is also human nature. Jesus did not condemn the people for having traditions: we all do. He did warn them, however, that his coming kingdom could not be reached via the old ways.
LORD, disciple us through your word, so that we do what you have taught us, not just the old ways we are used to.