“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins. But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”
Old and new. It is something we all live in. There are always new things and old things. New family and our older family, new friends and old friends. We are always integrating the new into our lives, that already contain the old.
But sometimes it is an art and a science, as to how we integrate or harmonize old and new. There is a continuous story of old and new in the Bible. God never changes. Nothing is new about God. But God gives us revelations about himself. God is all about restoring. That is the big idea that builds and is culminated in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The new cloth, the new wine, and the new wineskins have to do with Christ - He himself, his workings among people, and the people who are receiving him. The old and the new will not work together, he says. Jesus is after restoration, not reformation.
We do reformation and there is nothing wrong with it and it is good. But our reformation often ends up being renovation. Again, renovation is good; but it is not restoration and may not be reformation.
Jesus did not try to reform what was present, but he wanted to restore what was in the past. Restoration is not repair, but renewal. A restored car has more than a new paint job. It is made to be like new.
When Jesus came on the scene, what he did and said was new, but in the old. Same God, but new a new revelation or new form or format. The Law is fulfilled in Jesus. There is continuity between The Old Testament and the new, brought forth in Jesus.
When Jesus does something new today, it might be a new revelation of something already revealed, or a new form or format. When Jesus came and ministered the first time there was a form in place that we could call Judaism. Judaism is something that starts with the Bible, but adds a lot of other stuff, like traditional interpretations and customs. People were lifting up tradition and custom, over the actual word of God. This is not good.
Today, we also have traditions and customs. We need to differentiate between custom and command. We need to take our customs and bring them under or make them subject to or operate under the commands. When Jesus does something seemingly new, today, it lines up with the commands; but it might not line up with our customs.
Do you get it? Our customs need to yield or be flexible to the new thing he does. That is the picture of the new wineskin that is flexible, or the new fabric that can not be sewn onto the old fabric.
Some times, we need to lay down tradition and set aside custom, and let God do the restoration process, as we live in and walk by Christ's love. Jesus comes in many new ways, to us; always taking us out of our lives and into his.
The new will come if you are alive in Christ, at all. When the new comes, will you allow for the new container or new fabric, to carry it in; or will you use the old and see it tare open and the new be wasted?
You might view these parables as being about the salvation of the non-believer. That message, which is true, is that Christ is not a religious, "add-on". But, he comes into your life, and he takes over. He does not just repair and reform and bad person and make them less bad. That is what some other religions try to do and what humans try to help humans do and it does not get you saved or healed from sin.
As Jesus said to Nick at night (John 3), "you must be born again". It is a restoration thing and new thing that you need. Nick (Nicodemus) was a religious guy and he was open to and interested in Jesus. His message to Nick is, "you gotta start over".
Salvation is an event and a process. Another way to understand this is that a wedding, no matter how big and expensive, does not make for a good marriage. You grow in a marriage. You die a thousand deaths to grow a good to a great marriage. Your babies are a new thing for you to be formed to, then there is your new family, perhaps new homes, and a continually new life as you grow in your marriage.
It is the same way and even more so, perhaps, in your Christian life. The new comes, from Jesus, and he provides a new skin or new garment to hold it in. Will you take it? Will you die and let him give you new life? Just like with Nicodemas, there is something you must do. You must yield to and partner with the process to flow in the new. Notice that Jesus did not say to Nick, "let me pray for you".
To embrace the new, brought by Jesus, we need Jesus' eyes and ears; we need Jesus' heart. And we get those by letting him give them to us. Someone is praying for change, but he won't change.
In AA, they tell people to get to meetings. There is great benefit in the meetings and they have different kinds of meetings and that variety is good. But they also tell them to do two other things. You need to find a sponsor and start working the steps.
You can be sober, but not experience new life, because you are not working a program and don't have a sponsor. The door is open to new life, but you have to do something to hold onto it and let it be built in your life, and that's the wineskin or the new garment of working the steps and being mentored by someone who can walk beside you.
AA is not Christianity nor the church, but it is a picture or analogy that illustrates the points. Jesus first spoke these parables to a highly religious culture that started from a good place, but was getting a lot wrong. Ethical monotheism or Yahweh-ism became Judaism, which was filled with the 'hamburger helper' of tradition and custom, held up and over the actual inspired words of God.
It resulted in dysfunctional spirituality at best, and diabolical murder of God, at worst. Today, it is the same, and Jesus is the same, doing the new among broken people, like us, and he is wanting us to let him give us newer, better containers for him; so that we can live his life and carry out his mission.
We can get addicted to or make an idol out of, "the way we've always done it". The story that Jesus tells, to religious and pious people; specifically directed at the followers of the Pharisees and the followers of John (Luke 5:33), is that there comes a time when God does something new and we need to shift with it.