The theme of the passage from Mark’s Gospel today concerns doing what is appropriate for the time we find ourselves in. The message arises out of a discussion about fasting, and there is concern from both the Pharisees and John’s followers that Jesus’ disciples are not fasting. The time that the disciples found themselves in was a time of celebration because Jesus, the bridegroom, “the Holy One of God” (Peter’s confession John 6:69) was with them. Jesus emphasizes his point with reference to putting new wine in old wineskins. It doesn’t work because the timing is wrong; new should go with new, and old with old. There is a need for congruence.
Time and timing is an important part of life. As Qoheleth (the teacher) reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time for everything. Jesus advises that there will be a time when he is taken away from his followers, and at that time they will fast.
This is the time we find ourselves in, a time between times. We have indeed been reconciled to God by grace through faith in Christ’s faithfulness. This is not to be taken lightly, and Paul reminds us in Romans that while Christ does not condemn us, we should not continue to sin that grace should abound. In this season of Lent we have an opportunity to examine ourselves. Have our words and deeds been congruent with our proclamation? As the Psalmist says, “Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps 139:23–24).