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A New Question and a New Way (Matthew 9:14-17)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“A New Question and a New Way”

(Matthew 9:14-17)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

April 28, 2019

The Passage

Matthew 9:14-17

14 Then John’s disciples came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests be sad while the groom is with them? The time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one patches an old garment with unshrunk cloth, because the patch pulls away from the garment and makes the tear worse. 17 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. No, they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Introductory Comments:

Illustration: There are a lot of really important questions that we ask in our lives. Where will I go to college? What are we eating for lunch? Where is the bathroom? Do you take this woman to be your lawful wife? How does the jury find the defendant? Have you seen the car keys? Who is supposed to pick up the kids? What day is Mother’s Day? 

There are an infinite amount of important questions that we must deal with.

Jesus also got a lot of questions thrown His way during His ministry. In today’s passage, He is asked an important question concerning the way He and His disciples followed and worshipped God. 

We’re continuing our series through the Gospel of Matthew and today we’re looking at a short passage that points us once again to who Jesus is and what He came to do. 

We’re going to see in this passage that Jesus was asked an important question and He gave an important answer. 

Let’s go to God in prayer and ask Him to speak to us. 


We’ve been out of Matthew for a couple of weeks, so remember that Jesus has done great things and His fame is growing tremendously. He’s healing, He’s teaching with authority, He’s forgiving sins, and He’s raising a few questions from others. 

Oftentimes, Jesus is getting questions from Pharisees and religious teachers. Oftentimes, those questions are aimed at trapping Jesus or making Him look foolish.

However, this time the question that is posed to Jesus comes from the disciples of John. 

This is not just any old “John.” This is John the Baptizer, who is a big fan of Jesus. He is the one who proclaimed the coming of Jesus. 

He’s a good guy. 

However, his disciples do have . . .

I. A new question for Jesus (14) [on screen]

This is a question that Jesus has not had to deal with yet.  

From all that we can tell, this question is not necessarily meant to make Jesus look sinful or silly. It may just be a legitimate question. 

Look at verse 14. 

14 Then John’s disciples came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

Both the Pharisees and the disciples of John were committed to the instructions and laws of God, revealed to them through the teachings of the Old Testament. 

In the Old Testament way of things, fasting typically took place during a time of mourning or repentance. Fasting would take place because the person or people who were fasting wanted to feel close to God, they needed His presence, they needed to experience Him. 

There’s also this idea that fasting is a sign of holiness. Indeed, fasting is a spiritual discipline, one which Jesus spoke about in His sermon on the mountainside. 

So, the Pharisees were just previously questioning why Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, something a holy person wouldn’t do; and now others presume that He isn’t fasting, something a holy person would do. 

It would have been appropriate for John and his disciples to fast as they were repenting before God and waiting for Him to show Himself. They were waiting for God to work, they were waiting for Messiah to come and do His work. 

The disciples of John were saying, “We fast, the other religious devotees fast, why don’t you and your disciples fast?”

This is a legitimate question if for nothing else just to learn something and satisfy curiosity. 

Jesus gives the disciples of John an answer. In so doing, He reveals . . .

II. A new way for disciples (15-17) [on screen]

Jesus says to John’s disciples that followers of God will now follow after God in a different way. 

You see, whereas before; the disciples, or followers, of God would fast in order to seek God and feel His presence; the followers of God can now experience the presence of God by being with Jesus. 

Listen to verse 15. 

15 Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests be sad while the groom is with them? The time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Jesus provides three illustrations for us to understand His teaching in response to this question. 

Jesus’ first of three illustrations is a wedding celebration. 

Jesus said that the guests at a wedding don’t mourn while the wedding is going on. 

Can you imagine everyone looking gloomy at a wedding?

When the groom is there, it’s time to celebrate and party. 

In this illustration, Jesus is the groom and His followers are the wedding guests. 

What Jesus is saying is that they don’t have to fast in order to experience the presence of God because God is right there with them in the flesh!

This is a big deal for Jesus to make this illustration. By referring to Himself as the groom at the wedding party, He’s saying that He is God!

This is a new way for disciples! They’ve never had God walk among them in human flesh. 

Jesus says they don’t need to fast to seek God because He’s right here. It’s time to celebrate! A time will come when He’s not right here and then they will fast once again. 

Jesus gives a second illustration to show this new way. He speaks of new and old garments. 

Look at verse 16. 

16 No one patches an old garment with unshrunk cloth, because the patch pulls away from the garment and makes the tear worse.

Jesus is again showing that a new way has come. 

Any of you that do laundry on a consistent basis can identify with this illustration. Over time, clothes can shrink a little bit. 

I’ve got a problem that I’m experiencing right now. All of the necks in my dress shirts are starting to get tight. I don’t think that I’ve gained that much weight so I asked my wife for reassurance, “Can these shirts shrink?” She says yes, so I don’t feel so bad. 

Cloth shrinks over time, so you wouldn’t patch a hole on an old piece of cloth, which has already shrunk, with a new piece of cloth, which has not shrunk yet. If you do, as that new piece of cloth begins to shrink, it will tear away from the old one and will leave a worse hole. 

Let’s look at that third illustration and talk about what these mean. 

Look at verse 17. 

17 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. No, they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.

Again, Jesus compares the old with the new, this time with wineskins. 

Wineskins were leather bags that held wine. The wine would be poured into the leather bag while it was new and while the wine was new. As the wine continued to age it would cause the bag to expand more and more. After the wine would be aged for quite some time, the bag would be expanded to its limits. It would be foolish to put new wine into the old wineskin because there would be no more room to expand and the old wineskins would burst. The new wouldn’t mix well with the old. 

Jesus uses these second two illustrations to show that the new and the old shouldn’t try to be meshed together. 

What is He getting at here? Why does this matter to the disciples of John, why does it matter to Jesus’ disciples, and why does it matter to us?

Well, Jesus is trying to show us that there is a new way for followers of God. 

John and his disciples, as well as the Pharisees, are operating by the old way of things. They’re looking to the sacrifices, the rituals, the laws, the Mosaic covenant, and the eventual coming of Messiah. 

Jesus didn’t come to patch up the old way of religiosity. Jesus didn’t come to mix the new way into the old way of doing things (or the old wineskins). Jesus has come with something totally new. 

Jesus is saying, “The new way has come! I am the new way! I am the groom! I am Messiah! I am God!”

The focus now should not be the ritualistic fasting, the focus now should not be on the laws and rituals of Moses, the focus now should not be on trying to maintain a good religious image (as the Pharisees had been doing). The focus now should be on Jesus and His ways!

Look to Jesus, church!

Jesus had brought something new that focused on the heart that is truly devoted to God. 

Remember that multiple times in the book of Matthew, Jesus said, “You have heard it said . . . but I say . . .” Jesus is bringing something new, which is built on the foundation of Himself. 

Some of you are holding onto something old. You need to get rid of that. Get rid of your old beliefs. Get rid of your old habits. Get rid of your old prejudices. Get rid of your old materialism. Get rid of your old bitterness. Get rid of your old ritualism. 

Jesus has come! It’s time to celebrate because the new way is here! The groom is here! King Jesus is here!


Concluding Thoughts:

Did you know that Jesus did, indeed, fast? Remember before He began His ministry He fasted for 40 days out in the wilderness! His disciples may very well have fasted also. Remember, Jesus told us to fast in secret, so they may have been fasting in secret. 

If I were Jesus I would have been tempted to point that out. Jesus could say, “Hey, if we had a fasting competition I would beat you badly!”

However, Jesus instead focuses on the new way for followers of God. 

He gives us a new pursuit in our spiritual lives.

That takes us to our bottom line for this passage:

Bottom Line: Our greatest pursuit should be JesusHimself[on screen]


Look to Jesus and pursue Him and His ways!

Our pursuit of Jesus and this new way of following God should change everything about our lives.

It should affect our attitudes, our actions, our activities, our affections, our attentions, our associations, and our allegiances. 

Here’s what you can do this week to help you pursue Jesus:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Come up with a strategy for pursuing Jesus[on screen]

Some of us are not pursuing Jesus the way that we want to. 

If you want to pursue God, you must pursue Him through Jesus Christ!

Do you want to know your Creator? Pursue Jesus!

Come up with a strategy for pursuing Him. Come up with an actual plan. 

You might need to spend more time in prayer. You may need to fast for a few days to focus your attention on Him and recalibrate your life. Perhaps you need to read His Word more. 

Maybe you need to change the influences in your life, whether it be people, media intake, places you go. 

Whatever you need to do, come up with a strategy this week. 

  1. Take your nextstep in pursuingJesus[on screen]

Once you come up with a strategy, take the next step towards achieving that strategy. 

Whatever that next step is, take it this week. 

Maybe part of your strategy includes you talking more about Jesus. Try this week to include Jesus in one conversation outside of church. 

Maybe part of your strategy is to read the Bible more. Take some time this week to read one of the Gospels or one of Paul’s letters. 

Whatever your strategy is, take that next step. 


You might think, well this sounds kind of systematic and works-based. I wish it was more of an organic part of my life. 

You know what, I wish that also. I wish all of us were just naturally pursuing Jesus all of the time. However, so many of us have organically shifted away from Jesus and towards the things of this world. We have to fight to get back on track, so let’s work towards that end by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. 

The old way is gone, the new way has come. 

Let’s look to Jesus and let’s pursue Jesus. 

Some of you may have never pursued Jesus in your life. I have good news for you, Jesus is pursuing you. 

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – I Need Thee Every Hour


If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

We will meet back tonight at 5:30 PM to continue our study called “Discovering Church History.” I hope that you can join us.

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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