January 20, 2019
THOUGHTS FROM Francisco:
Recently, I had a telephone conversation with another believer who asked about the following passage “And no one puts new wine into old wine-skins. 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 wine-skins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” Luke 5:37-39
In discussing this verse we agreed that Jesus’ comment about pouring new wine into old wine-skins indicates the known fact that an old wine-skin filled with new wine would burst under the pressure created by the new wine’s fermentation. The point of the parable was that Jesus was bringing a fresh, new revelation about God to Israel not intended to fit the framework of Old Testament religious practices. We also noted that this passage comes at the end of chapter 5. Through-out the chapter we see Jesus doing fresh, new things. First, he calls Peter, James and John to be his disciples. He does not call the wealthy religious educated Pharisees or Scribes. Instead he calls working class commoners, smelly fishermen, to be in his group. Second, Jesus cleanses a leper, a social outcast rejected by the aristocratic religious elite. Third, he heals a paralytic. In those days suffering with some illness like paralysis meant either you or your parents were sinners and the disease was God’s judgment for the sin. Fourth, he brings a hated tax collector, into his band of evangelists. To top it off, he attends a feast thrown by the “tax collector and sinners” and there he makes the loving comment about coming to heal the sick, not the well and to call sinners to repentance.
Jesus is preaching the new message of inclusion, cleansing, healing, forgiveness and restoration that is no longer fit for the old wineskins, the old rigidity of how the Jews worshiped and understood God. He is essentially introducing the age of grace we now live in. And please note one more thing. As the new wine ferments it releases gases, those gases cause the wineskin to expand, to grow. So likewise is the kingdom of heaven. It is expansive, it is meant to grow. It cannot be limited, kept in a closet, kept under a lid. All those who receive salvation know the pressure, the very need to tell others about this new life they have found.
The conversation with my friend triggered a chain of thought making me ask myself these questions. As we begin a new year, am I living in the old? Am I doing the same old thing? Have I put Jesus in a box and limited his influence in me? Is his influence, his very presence expanding in me? Do I tell others about what he has done for me? Am I making rules to limit him? Am I seeking the expanding kingdom of Heaven? Am I seeking the mind of Christ? Consider these questions for yourself.
No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.