Old Garments

Wow. It’s been over a month since I’ve made a post. Knew I was taking a break, but didn’t think it was that long. This post continues the last post I made, Who’s it For, Anyway?
So now we come to what really floored me as I was reading Luke chapter 5 a week ago, the end of the chapter where Jesus talks about old wine and new wine skins…

“And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭5:33-39‬ ‭ESV‬‬.    

So what struck me to make me want to just camp out in Luke Chapter 5 for a couple of weeks?   It’s this – when I read this passage in a new way, it jumped out at me that what Jesus is talking about here is the exact same thing he talks about with that old pharisee Nicodemus,  the teacher of Israel, in John chapter 3.   We read this passage and wonder what in the world Jesus is talking about when he talks about patched up old garments and new wine skins.   I’ll tell you what he’s talking about – he’s talking about the exact same thing he’s talking about when he talks about being born again.

Jesus says here No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.  Who’s he talking to?   He’s talking to the group of Pharisees and scribes who, apparently, have followed him from healing the paralytic to Matthew the tax collectors house, where Jesus is feasting with sinners and scum (in the words of the Pharisees!).  These religious leaders (some followers of John the Baptist may also have been with them, see Mark 2), are wearing the old garment of religious rules and routines, which included fasting at appointed times.   John’s followers were in agreement that these fasts should be kept (John himself followed the strictest asceticism, and probably required it of his followers).   They also would have had nothing to do with sitting down with the merry band that was feasting at Matthews house, to say nothing of the fact that Jesus had called one of these to be his disciple.   So these guys are all going around fasting, as they should have been by their customs and traditions (they would twice a week).  So to see Jesus sitting with these characters, eating and partying and having a good old time, would have been irritating, even scandalous.  They were probably a little jealous of the goings on.   

But they were stuck within their old garments, their old way of thinking, and here Jesus is bringing out the new wardrobe.   Jesus basically acknowledges that they are right in what they are saying.  He is absolutely setting aside their fasts and rituals which they held near and dear, which great Jewish teachers had used (in their own words) to put a hedge around the law.  They were the gatekeepers making the rules for who could and who could not gain gain access to the Kingdom.  

And here Jesus comes, breaking down their gates and their barriers.  Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?   I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – when Jesus is around the party never stops!!  But – The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.   In this public announcement of his own death to come (however cryptic it may be), he lets his disciples and followers know that the day will come for their own fasting, and no one will have to force it upon them.   

More to come….


John Lewis
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