Summary: There is value in both the old and the new and one should not be destroyed or lost for the other.
Get ready for something new
I am slow to throw out an old pair of shoes. It usually takes my feet getting wet a few times for me to come to my senses. I used to get shoes resoled when it was possible, because I like the comfort of broken in leather. Stiff shoes are a pain, but I don’t want wet feet either.
Change is hard but inevitable. How we approach it should be seasoned with wisdom from Jesus.
He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ’The old is better.’" (Luke 5:36-39 NIV)
The new and the old are in tension
Can’t you see Jesus demonstrating this point? "James, come here. You need to learn to sew." Then he says to the crowd, "Look at James’ elbow. See that patch? See how it is tearing his tunic? That’s what happens when you sew a new patch on an old tunic. And what do you think happened to the new piece of cloth this patch was taken from? It is ruined. There is a big patch cut out of it."
Then He calls us to picture an old dried up wineskin filled with new wine. The expansion of the gasses would be too much for the inflexible leather. It would crack and burst. There is nothing wrong with the old wineskin, it just isn’t suited to this particular task.
New leather would work so much better since it is soft and pliable. It would expand and stretch as necessary to allow the wine to keep well. And nothing would get destroyed or wasted.
And remember the wedding at Cana? When he told this parable, Jesus might have been remembering.
... the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
John 2:9-10 (NIV)
In other words. Why save the good stuff till everyone is too drunk to appreciate it? Only a drunk person would want weak wine after they’ve had the fine vintage.
A person with a palette for fine wine will turn his nose up at ripple.
Why is Jesus telling these stories?
Jesus usually doesn’t explain his parables. You either get it or you don’t. It might seem unfair, but He is trying to explain the unexplainable. If you need more explanation, hang around, ask questions, keep pursuing, and Jesus will help you out.
That’s the way He wants it.
Jesus is addressing a confrontation about fasting. But He knows, this issue is symptomatic of something deeper. It’s not about fasting. It is a clash of cultures.
LORD give us the wisdom of Christ to see at this depth.
The pharisees have been doing things a certain way for centuries. They have the firmest authority. God Himself spoke to Moses out of the fire and smoke and gave Him the Law. The elders of many generations have interpreted these laws till specific practices have been developed. If their system for spirituality won’t work, nothing will.
On the other hand, Moses and the prophets promised the Messiah. When He came, spirituality would take on a whole new meaning. Now He is here. His followers are just trying to keep up.
Moses is being reinterpreted in a big way.
So Jesus is trying to make the transition a little easier. In these parables He explains a few things.
• Unwisely used new patches will destroy older garments
• It is foolish to destroy a new garment for the sake of an old one
• New wine will destroy an old skin, it should be replaced with a new skin
• New wine will be rejected by someone who likes the old
What is Jesus’ point?
There is value in both the old and the new and one should not be destroyed or lost for the other.
This is Jesus’ guideline for change. It is actually a word for both the Apostles and the Pharisees.
The old is:
• An old garment