Reading Luke 5 the other day, I pondered over the end of the chapter.
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.
I get the feeling that Jesus wasn’t just giving the listeners ‘top-tips for tailoring’ or ‘wine-cellar wisdom’. Maybe on the surface it’s plain good advice, but looking at the passage as a whole, with particular attention to what immediately precedes the handy homecare hints (talk about feasting and fasting), I can’t help but think that Jesus is speaking to something a bit deeper.
My first impression is that there must be lots and lots of layers to the passage, but the one that comes out primarily to me is that of not mixing new & old.
Jesus could well be using the wine / clothes as a metaphor. ‘If you pour new wine into old wineskins, they will burst and both are lost’ could well be referring to the renewing of both our minds and bodies as followers of Jesus.
We are assured that we are new creations, ‘being renewed day by day’ (2 Corinthians 4:16) but also that God lives in us if we ‘live in love’ (1 John 4:16), however, it seems that to be truly, completely able to be filled with God’s spirit, to become like Jesus, we need to be changed physically, permanently. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
1 Corinthians 15 Tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”. Which is maybe what Jesus was referring to when he suggested that the “new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined”. If our bodies were to fully inherit what God has in store for us, we would burst open and be ruined, hence we need new, changed bodies to contain all the whatever it is that God wants to bless us with to inherit!
It gives me images of Agent Smith from the Matrix bursting open when Neo jumps inside him. Maybe that’s just my twisted mind.
Lastly, Jesus says, at the end of that passage in Luke:
And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’
Where does that fit in? Is it irony / satire / sarcasm? Is Jesus saying “people won’t want what God is offering because they are so addicted to what this current world offers”? Or is there another layer to the chapter in Luke?
I’ll have to think and pray about that one a bit more, anyone with any ideas?