New Clothes and New Wine
New Clothes and New Wine
Words of Faith 4-16-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."
 Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."
 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.' "
Jesus continued to answer the objections of the religious people who were so deeply offended that He was eating with tax collectors and sinners.
"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." That sounds familiar, similar to something else Jesus said, but a little different. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus said that a new patch will shrink and tear old garment. It was a similar parable but here the emphasis is a little different.
Jesus pointed out something that is very obvious. Using a patch torn from a new garment to repair an old garment makes no sense. You don't go out to Macy's and buy a new suit or dress so that you can cut a patch out of it and sew it on an old garment! It will ruin the new garment and won't match the old one.
Here is the point. This move of the Spirit that was going on Capernaum was not a repair job on an old religious garment. You don't tear up the new in order to repair the old.
Jesus pushed His point even further. "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."
This move of God was not a "new filling" poured into the old religious containers. New wine when put into old wineskins will always burst the old hardened wineskin as it expands. The word Jesus used literally means it will shatter and gush out.
Then Jesus made one more powerful point that is in no other Gospel account. It is a description of the problem of religion. "And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'" The truth is that change is not easy. Religious people get stuck. The old wine is always comfortable, predictable, adequate, and meets expectations. And no one wants the new wine. They say the old is better.
Jesus knew that we are all given to religion. We find comfort and safety in patterns that are predictable. Even the new patterns and new styles get old and familiar. No one, in their human nature, ever wants the new work that God is doing. But God is doing a new work.
What do we do with this teaching?
If we look around, we see a lot of patching these days. There is a tendency these days to look for the newest "patch" from the latest garment. The patch may take the form of the latest book or system or new style of music or new way of doing church. Churches often look for the latest "new patch" torn from the latest "new paradigm" church program. But Jesus says that patching up the old is not what the Kingdom is about. It is not even about "seeking the new" as much as it is about receiving the new as He gives it.
We need to realize that the work of Jesus in us is also not about pouring new wine into old wineskins. If we attempt to fill our old religious ways with the new wine of God's Spirit, they will certainly burst and gush out.
We also need to recognize the real problem. The problem is that in our flesh we really like the old wine. We like what we are used to even if it seems "new". I often laugh when our church introduces a brand new song that everyone is struggling to sing for the first time. I laugh because I know that in a few years that new song will be an "oldie" and that, one day, I will be among the old codgers complaining we don't sing the old songs enough. We like the things we are used to.
Certainly there is nothing wrong with old songs and rich traditions. But if they get us stuck so that we cannot receive the new wine, they are very much in the way of what Jesus is doing. Apparently the call of Jesus is to wear new garments, not patch old ones; be new wineskins filled with the wine of His Spirit; and to yearn for the new wine He provides.
Father, this gets confusing sometimes and I know that is not Your intention. Give me a spirit and heart that is open to what You want to do in me. Forgive me for tearing patches from the new and trying to keep my old ways. Give me the new garment of Your righteousness. Fill me with the new wine of your Spirit. In Jesus' name.