Summary: Jesus came to show us a NEW way for sin to be forgiven; a NEW definition of belonging; and a NEW relationship to the rules. And that is some new wine that can't be poured into old wineskins.
Good morning! Please open your Bibles to Mark 2.
I know I am about to date myself, but I wonder how many of you remember Paul Harvey? My mother loved listening to Paul Harvey. He would come on at noon, which was about the time we were driving back from the bowling alley (which is a whole other sermon), and so every day I heard his intro… “Hello Americans. This is Paul Harvey. Stand by for News.”
Am I alone here? Anybody else? I got to the point as a four year old that I would say it before Paul Harvey did—Hello Americans. This is Paul Harvey. Stand by for News.”
But have you ever asked, “Where did the word “news” come from?” Unless you’re a word nerd like me, probably not. But I got a little obsessed with that question this week, so I looked it up. I read in one place that it was an acronym for “Notable Events, Weather, Sports.” But that is false. Mainly because there’s evidence that the word was in use long before professional sports and weather reports were a thing.
Others have said it stands for the four points of the compass—North, East, West, and South. But that’s also false.
What it is is actually pretty simple. It’s the plural of the adjective “new.” And maybe you’re a high school student and you are sitting there thinking, “But wait a minute, adjectives don’t have plurals.” If that’s you, and you actually ARE sitting there thinking that, then congratulations, because you are going to CRUSH the ACT. But secondly, realize that while that is true in English, that isn’t true in most other languages, where if you make the noun plural you also make the adjectives plural.
So there you go. News is simply the reporting of what is new. So by definition, for something to be news, it has to be new. If it isn’t new, then it isn’t really news.
Now let’s get back to our definition of the Gospel as “Good News.” And this morning, I want us to think about the question, “What is NEW about the GOOD NEWS? “
In Mark chapter 2, we have the first example of Jesus’ teaching in the gospel of Mark. We know from Mark 4:2 that Jesus’ favorite teaching technique was a parable. So here, Jesus tells a couple of mini-parables to emphasize what was new about His message and ministry. He says,
21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
The point that Jesus is making is pretty straightforward: you don’t put a patch of new, unshrunk cloth on an old garment, because the first time you wash it, the patch will shrink and pull away from the garment and make the hole bigger. And the illustration about not putting new wine into old wineskins is the same thing. As wine begins to ferment, it releases gases which expand the wineskin its put in. Notice the point Jesus makes—when the wineskin bursts, it destroys both the wine and the wineskin. Where is He going with this? Well, realize that at this point, Jesus was speaking specifically to the Pharisees. They were the popular religious leaders of the day. And even though we tend to make the word “Pharisee” synonymous with the word “hypocrite,” the truth is that in Jesus’ day the Pharisees were well respected as zealous guardians of the law. They wanted to apply God’s law to every area of life. They wanted to make sure that the truth of God’s Word wouldn’t be compromised by modern society. So they wanted to guard against every conceivable violation. Hands and utensils had to be washed properly. Food had to be carefully prepared. Since ritual purity was so important, Pharisees refused to be around people who ignored these things. (They would have fit right in with all our current conversations about hand washing and social distancing!)
Actually if we had been around at the time of Jesus, we would have probably admired the Pharisees, We might even have been Pharisees ourselves. We have a high view of the authority of Scripture. We don’t want to see it compromised in our society. The problem with the Pharisees is that there was not room in their worldview for anything new. And Jesus comes on the scene and says, “Guess what? I’m doing something new.
Let me ask you something: Raise your hand if you have an iPhone. Now, please keep your hand raised if your iPhone is a replacement for an older model of iPhone. [Ask someone]—do you still carry the other phone? Why not?