But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins…
I have always found this to be a challenging instruction from Jesus. Particularly because as Christians, so much of our understanding of life is rooted in what has happened in the past– in what is old.
- We believe the center of history happened on a cross and was finished with an empty tomb. Everything before it pointed to it and everything after it has been profoundly affected because of it.
- We believe that God inspired people to write down stories and prophecies and poetry for thousands of years. Then He instructed his people to hold that collection of inspiration firm– to trust it, to submit to it, to learn from it.
- We believe that Jesus established a means to remember him through bread and wine that is to be the centerpiece of Christian worship whenever the church gathers in His name.
- We pray old prayers. We sing old songs. We study old Scriptures.
We are people who have hope for the future and who love God in the present BECAUSE of the way He has shown himself to be trustworthy in the past.
Just because something is old does not mean it is wrong.
Yet, Jesus is saying as clear as He can: I am doing something new. I don’t fit into the old systems.
Please note, JESUS is saying this. We are not free to let anybody who wants to say it, say it. We are not free to say– ‘you know what? These rules don’t work for me. That limitation is old-fashioned. We should re-interpret this teaching to mean something a little more socially acceptable.’
Jesus got to say it. We don’t.
Jesus was saying that HE was something new. He was not saying that anything we think is new should be given pride of place over the old. There is much that is old that points to Jesus and much that is old that deepens our relationship with God and much that is old that is very, very good.
But Jesus was new.
And if you are stuck in a system of trying to behave the right way to get God to like you. Or you are mired in so much guilt that you can’t ever imagine God would accept you. Or you prefer revenge as a means to make things right. Well Jesus has something new and he doesn’t fit in programs where you are graded on performance or serve an eye for an eye.
If you try and put his wine in that kind of a container, it’s just gonna blow up.