And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” Luke 5:33-39.
Jesus is asked a legitimate question: why don’t your disciples fast like other religious people? Well, it’s because the Messiah was with them. The answer to their prayers was already here. But fasting would resume when He leaves. So this was a transitional time when Christ was on the earth. But transitioning to what?
The parable of the new wine skins is a clue to what they could expect. There was a new covenant coming that would be inaugurated by the shedding of His blood. He would tell them that during their last passover meal, the Last Supper. “And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'” (Matthew 26:27-28).
This new covenant could not be given to people who had not been changed in some way. Otherwise, the new wine, as it fermented, would burst the old skins. This is why Ezekiel prophesied: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). We had to be born again, changed into His likeness, and be eager to obey Him.
Back in 1978 a young man was rather ineptly trying to lead me to Christ. I was raised Catholic, so every Sunday, as part of the liturgy, I recited the elements of the new covenant. This enabled me to answer “yes” to all the right questions he asked me about what I believed. But then he asked me if I had a desire to read the Bible. I said “no.” Intellectually I had checked all the right boxes, but I had no desire to know, let alone obey, God’s word. This perplexed him, and he didn’t know what to do with me. But one day I would cry out for that change, and I would be desperate to do His will.