Luke 5:34-39 (The Message)
“No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put wine in old, cracked bottles; you get strong, clean bottles for your fresh vintage wine. And no one who has ever tasted fine aged wine prefers unaged wine.”
Jesus has just spent a few days healing people and gathering his first disciples to him, among them is a man called Levi who invites Jesus to a dinner party. At this social event are a few Pharisees (stubborn and proud Jews who thought they knew it all) and teachers of the law who start kicking up a racket about the company Jesus kept. Jesus’ response is:
Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders – an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.’
Luke 5:31-2 (The Message)
However, they don’t let up and continue to press the point by saying:
John’s disciples are well-known for keeping fasts and saying prayers. Also the Pharisees. But you seem to spend most of your time at parties. Why?’
Luke 5:33 (The Message).
It’s when Jesus responds to this remark that he tells the parable (parables were stories and metaphors used to illuminate a point) regarding tailoring and wine.
Jesus is about bringing in redemption, this means restoring the broken relationship people have with God. We, as fleshy, weak and tired humans are quite prone to eating mud and sticking our fingers in flames, i.e. messing around with things we really shouldn’t. Jesus knows our reckless habits and, by walking this earth and then dying in our place, has established a way where we can have a true and deep relationship with God. However, the Pharisees are more interested in making sure everyone keeps the rules and ticks all the spiritual boxes (fasting, praying, tithing etc. but without love.)
Jesus isn’t about the cold and methodical way of approaching religion but about living out a belief that is warm, abundant, genuine and filled with love.
In this particular situation, Jesus uses three metaphors (we’re only looking at the last two this week, but I’ll still fill you in on the first). The first metaphor is that the disciples don’t fast like the disciples of John or the Pharisees because the bridegroom is relaxing with them. The analogy of God marrying His Church (His bride) is a recurring motif so Jesus is clearly stating here that He is God, the bridegroom. The marriage represents restoration, completeness and a new way: God marries a people He loves, a people who try to love Him as much as possible. Jesus solidifies this metaphor with two images: the fine silk scarf being sewn onto old work clothes and the new vintage wine being poured into old cracked bottles.
In response to Jesus, we can either be:
a) The old work clothes and the old cracked bottles, by being proud, deciding not to change and not believing following Jesus is the best way.
b) The fine silk scarfs and strong clean bottles by choosing humility, deciding to change and believing that following Jesus is the best way.
Although that seems rather black and white, and there might be a few religious snipers ready to shoot me down when I say this, I think we are rather grey.
We’re somewhere along this line. Sometimes we’re doing a good job of growing closer to Christ, understanding that we’re nothing without Him and that God is our rock and firm foundation. Other times…it’s more of a struggle and we start slipping back towards point a (the old us). One way that Paul (a chap who wrote a lot of the New Testament) explained this situation is that there’s the new man and the old man. To get closer to being at point b (being Christ like) we need to acknowledge our sin (the rubbish stuff that we do) and ask for Jesus to forgive us (whilst forgiving others who do rubbish stuff to us). Whilst we figure all this out Jesus continues to be good and loving. He’s the constant and ever-loving one and he calls us to be more like him.
Let’s taste Jesus and find that he is good.
(Nb. Another term that often comes up is Jesus being likened to food, e.g. the Last Supper where he takes the wine and bread and designates them as symbols of his blood and his body. Jesus isn’t actually asking us to eat him. That’s cannibalism. However, he is inviting us to try Jesus, to work out for ourselves whether what he says is true. He’s not about force-feeding himself to us but about us experiencing how good He is.)
“Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.”