To understand the context of Matthew 9:16-17, let us read verses 14-15:
“Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:14-17)
Here, Jesus was asked why His disciples do not fast like the Pharisees do. It was a basic question about the observation of Jewish traditions. Jesus answered this question by elaborating on the fact that these traditions have no place in the teachings He was reviving. He was the Messiah, His time on earth would be short and all that His disciples could learn from him was His top priority. The disciples needed to focus on learning and not on fasting or observing Jewish traditions that had not merit in the law.
Jesus then went on to elaborate in verses 16-17 that His teachings were representing God’s will for man in a new light, in a new understanding when compared to the old and worn out ways of the Jewish traditions. The religious leaders, through years of inflicting traditions on the laws and directions of God, had blurred up the true meaning of what God intended to teach through their useless traditions. Jesus was basically telling His followers that they needed to start new, and look at things from a new perspective. If they insisted on looking at things from the perspective of the old traditions, they would miss out on what He was trying to relay to them and in the process end up totally misunderstanding the original truths. The disciples had to have fresh minds that were not blinded with traditions.
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In His service,
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