Grace For Your Day April 1

The Talmud is the Rabbi’s Commentary on the Old Testament and it is important in ancient Judaism because the Pharisees used it as a textbook for how to interpret the Law. It was over 3,000 pages long and put into six volumes. Interestingly enough, one volume talked mainly about the issue of fasting.

In fact, it said that every serious Jew should fast twice a week, give alms, and say certain prescribed prayers. The Pharisees were so serious about each of these that they did them in an ostentatious fashion. When they gave alms, they blew trumpets “in the synagogues and in the streets” in order to be “honored by men” (Matthew 6:2). When they prayed, they did so “in the synagogues and on the street corners” (verse 5). Also, when they fasted, they neglected their appearance and put on a “gloomy face… and neglected their appearance” (verse 16).
All of this explains what happens in Mark 2:18 where it says:

The Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to [Jesus], “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

In other words, the Pharisees wanted Jesus to tell them why His disciples did not keep their rules. Apparently, the 12 did not fast twice a week and put on a gloomy face so they wondered what was wrong with them. So here is Jesus’ response in verses 21-22:

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 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 fresh wineskins.

Jesus uses these two illustrations in order to demonstrate that He is not teaching a reformed form of Pharisaism. He is not trying to improve the old system but to renounce and replace it with a new one altogether. His ways had nothing to do with their ways. Just like a new patch of unshrunk cloth cannot be placed on an old garment without disastrous results, so His new Gospel of forgiveness cannot be attached to their man-made external traditions. The same thing goes for the new wine in old wineskins.

The point is that Jesus has come to make a break with orthodox Judaism. While He upheld the Old Testament as it was properly understood, Jesus did not cave into the opinions and preferences of the Pharisees because He wanted to make it very clear that none of those things save us. The only thing that does is faith in Christ alone which is what we are going to talk about this week at Grace Fellowship Church.

This Sunday, we are going to be looking at a conversation that Jesus had with the Pharisees right after the conversion of Matthew (verses 14-17) which is not random. It lands in this place in the Bible because Jesus had just saved one of the most hated people in Israel – a tax collector – and the Pharisees are wondering why. So now He tells them that it is because His mission in life had nothing to do with theirs.

They wanted to save people by works. He wanted to save them by grace. They wanted to help them earn it. He wanted to help them receive it. They wanted to show the Jews how to climb their way up to God. Jesus wanted to show them how God has come down in the person of the Messiah which is good news because what would we do if we had to climb our way up to God?

How scary would it be if we had to keep all six volumes of the Talmud?

And fast twice a week?

And wear a gloomy face?

And neglect our appearance?

Thankfully, we do not need to any of that because of Jesus. He paid the price so we could be saved another way.

Please join us as we talk about that this Sunday at 9:30. The sermon will be recorded on our You Tube Channel and then posted later for all those who are not able to come in person.

– Jeremy Cagle