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Summary: Jesus 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. What does He mean by that?

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Parable of the cloth and wineskins

(Luke 5:36-39) 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. {37} 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. {38} No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. {39} And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"

Explanation of the parable

If a woman sewed a patch of new cloth on a piece of garment that had been washed, the next time it was washed the patch would then shrink and ruin the whole garment. If new wine was poured into old wineskins, the pressure of the gas from the fermentation would break the old wineskin and the wine would sip out and be lost.

Application of the parable

Do not mix the old covenant with the new covenant.

Jesus' disciples had just received new teachings from the Lord and they needed to know how to relate that life to the old truths of the Jewish faith. With these illustrations, Christ taught how to relate the old and the new.

Jesus taught that to put new cloth on an old garment would destroy both. To put new wine into old wineskins would also destroy both. To try to mix Law and Grace would effectively destroy both. Jesus is saying some things just cannot be mixed. When God reveals a new thing, He sometimes wants us to totally forget about the old.

(Isa 43:18-19) "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. {19} See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Jesus' mission involved a radical break with common religious practices for what he brings is not a patch but a whole new garment. Jesus' teaching is like fermenting wine that seems to almost have inherent vigor and can not be contained within an old rigid system.

Jesus, during the Last Supper, spoke of a new covenant, which is indeed new and not merely an improved extension of the old.

(Luke 22:20) In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

How is the new covenant different from the old? The new covenant is a once-and-for-all sacrifice of sin while the old covenant requires repeated sacrifice of sins.

When Jesus spoke of the new covenant, He was referring to His blood as shed for the forgiveness of our sins in place of the old covenant which simply uses the blood of animals.

(Mat 26:28) This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

The big difference between this blood sacrifice and the one in the old covenant is that it is only offered once for our sins. The old covenant requires repeated sacrifice of sin and shedding of blood before God would forgive the people of their sins. When Christ died for our sins, He paid for its debt and satisfied God's divine justice completely. There is no need for us to continually offer sacrifices for our sins by punishing ourselves.


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