Monday, January 19, 2015

New Wine is Poured

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.  Hebrew 5:10

“Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined.  Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”  Mark 2:22

What is the biggest difference between the readings from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament? 

IMHO, the change is that God is with us in the New Testament.  He parties at Cana.  He eats fish on the mountainside.  He walks around Galilee.  He drinks water at the well with the Samaritan woman.  God – in the personhood of Jesus – does everything we do including suffering.  The New Testament is the story of Jesus achieving perfection through that suffering.  The New Testament is a book of the present tense while the Old Testament is a book of waiting and preparation. 

With the arrival of the new, the rules changed.  Fasting is appropriate when you are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive for the big feast.  However, when he arrives, it is a time to celebrate and dance. 

When the Pharisees tried to apply the old rules to the behavior of Jesus and his disciples, they ran up against a new interpretation of the rules.  Fasting is reduced to an unnecessary practice during Jesus’ public ministry.

As the notes in the NAB explain, “The bridal metaphor expresses a new relationship of love between God and his people in the person and mission of Jesus to his disciples. It is the inauguration of the new and joyful messianic time of fulfillment and the passing of the old. Any attempt at assimilating the Pharisaic practice of fasting, or of extending the preparatory discipline of John’s disciples beyond the arrival of the bridegroom, would be as futile as sewing a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak or pouring new wine into old wineskins with the resulting destruction of both cloth and wine.” 

Growing up, Easter (more than Christmas) was a holiday for new clothes.  At Christmas, we would get new clothes wrapped up under the tree.  Maybe we would wear something new (and red) to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  But that was a last-minute decision. 

However, Easter required preparation.  My parents would take us to Sears-Roebuck or Clayton-Magee or Robert Hall to get a new suit, shirt and tie.  We would trek down to Kinney Shoes for some new loafers or wing-tips.  When we showed up at church on Easter Sunday, we were wearing our finest.  Our newly redeemed selves could not be poured into the old wineskins hanging in our closets.  The new wine we would consume had to go into our bodies that were adorned with “new wineskins” of the finest cotton-polyester blend. 

How are you exercising your newly redeemed self with your commitment to piety, study and action?  Remember that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”  Your greatness is in your action.   

No comments: