This post is one in a series of reflections for Lent. I invite you to go back and read the previous reflections.
Once again the religious leaders are searching to challenge Jesus, and reject him. They ask him why his disciples are not fasting. He asks them if the guests fast while the Bridegroom is with them. This is a cool picture. When the Bridegroom is with us, then it is a time for celebrating and feasting. Jesus is now referring to himself as the Bridegroom. When we get to the Revelation of John, then we will see that all of time will culminate in a great bridal feast for the Lamb of God.
Jesus is pointing forward. He knows exactly where his ministry is headed, and he is now pointing to that time. He says that when the Bridegroom is taken from them that then the time will be right for fasting. Now that they are with the Bridegroom, the time is not right for them to fast.
The next couple verses seem a little enigmatic. They don't seem to fit to well with the rest of the passage, but I think that Jesus is trying to teach something vitally important. The rules of the law are methodical. There is a time for fasting. There is a special way to wash your hands. There are rules for everything that a person man do in their daily lives. All that is the old way of doing business with God.
Jesus uses the picture of using a new patch as a picture of the revolutionary way he is going to change our relationship with God. Before Christ, man had so many rules to follow in order to approach God. Jesus has come to be that once and only step to approach God. He is going to destroy the old, and replace it with something completely different. It would be ridiculous for Jesus to come and be the last and final sacrifice for sin, and then leave the law in place. In much the same way, as it would be ridiculous to place a new patch on an old garment. The two will not fit together. The new ministry that Jesus has come to establish is incompatible with the old ways of the Temple. Where the presence of God had dwelt in the Holy of Holies, the Spirit of God will now take up residence in his people. Where the people needed a priest to approach God on their behalf, now the people will have direct access to God through Jesus. This is truly a revolutionary and brand new teaching. He has not only come into the world, but he has come to turn the world upside-down. I suppose that is not exactly right. Jesus has come to turn the world right-side up.