Wine-making and Sewing
Loving Lord, I am grateful that You invite my attention and You delight in my devotion. I wait for You.
Read LUKE 5:33-39
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The old is better” (39). Some of us are reluctant to change from our old ways and try the new!
Mark tells us that it was John’s disciples and the Pharisees who asked this question about fasting. In Jesus’ time fasting was practiced regularly by God-fearing Jews. At its worst, it was an outward display of asceticism, without any inward meaning (Luke 18:12), and lent itself to abuse (Isa. 58:3-8). On the other hand, Jesus himself fasted before embarking on his ministry. Elsewhere in the New Testament we have Jesus’ words to the Jews about how they should fast (Matt. 6:16-18) as well as examples of fasting (e.g. Acts 13:2-3), but nowhere is it mandated for Christians.
Jesus places the question in a larger issue: the old and the new. The illustrations are clear enough: the application is not so easy. I think our difficulties come when we start wondering which Jesus is commending, the old or the new. The answer is neither one over the other. The relationship of the Old Testament to Christianity is complex and the early church wrestled with this (see Acts 15 and Paul’s letter to the Galatians for two examples). Throughout his gospel, Luke emphasizes that Jesus is fulfilling the old, that the old is crucial. At the same time, Jesus is doing something radically new. Many of the Jews can’t see that, because they think that the old wine is better. Consider, however, the remarkable wine that Jesus produced at the wedding in Cana (John 2:6-10) and the Sermon on the Mount’s repeated “but I tell you…” (Matt. 5:17-48).
You can’t just take something from the old and tack it on to the new. To be stuck in the old is to miss the new. To reject the old is to misunderstand the new. The application for us today is huge. Christians should read the Old Testament and think hard about how we apply the teachings about such things as homosexuality, divorce and the Sabbath.
What issues from the Old Testament do you wrestle with? Find a group of Christians with whom you can constructively thrash these out.
Lord Jesus, give me eyes to see wider, a head to understand better and a heart to embrace what You teach me.
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