Then Jesus gave them this illustration:
“No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment.
No one puts new wine into old wineskins.
No one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”Luke 5:36-39 (Summarised)
In the previous Gem I drew your attention to the last verse and suggested that you mull it over. It seems Jesus is making the point not to patch up the old system; don’t put the new way into old structures. New ideas and approaches require new ways of doing things. We can understand that. As with the verses I have kept above, you patch the old system. And for sure, neither do you cut up or dismantle the new approach to use it to patch the old. New ideas require new structures. But suddenly after Jesus has said all that He seemingly switches sides it seems and argues that no one who has tasted the old wine wants the new. Because as wine connoisseurs know the best wine is the oldest wine. The vintage stuff that has matured has the best flavour. Is that what Jesus is saying on the basis of His experience with wine? NO. If that is the case the most recently wine is the best, the stuff that is made from water. Ask anyone in Cana of Galilee.
Notice how this element is closed with “they say”. Jesus is not saying that at all. He is drawing attention to what others say. It is an ironical use of the saying to contrast it with the earlier statements about change. We know where Jesus stands on it all. Jesus is drawing the attention of the Pharisees and others listening to matters of change and the contrast between the old and new systems. The old Judaic system based on the minutiae of laws, including the Misnah which spells out all the detailed law that the Torah doesn’t cover. Hence the comments of the Pharisees concerning whether Jesus’ disciples should fast or not. Do you think this matter is a concern in this periscope only? No, it started with the first encounter with Pharisees and their opposition and it continues across the chapter boundary into chapter six with reference to the Lord of Sabbath. This is a continuing issue. The mindset of people who don’t handle change so well is fixed on the past.
Isn’t it interesting that the three parts to the “illustration” that Jesus gives are the three positions that one can take to change. In reverse order:
- Trying a patch up job
- Accepting the new
- Clinging on to the old.
They really are the choices we have, and we all face them. We either embrace change and accept that change is inevitable or we resist it. We have to work out what we are going to do when faced with change when it comes into our lives. Change will come sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. What matters most is how we are positioned to deal with it. Will we resist it or embrace it? Will we complain about it and oppose those who are early adopters or will we learn the new and join the early adopters. Those are our real choices. I think we can all see that to attempt a patch up job, a little bit of this and a little bit of that is futile. Especially with the way Luke writes it. No one in their right mind would cut a piece of cloth from a new garment to patch the old garment. Exactly. Do you get the point? Patching up is not the way to go. Either embrace the new or resist it – those are your choices. And when you compare those options certainly embracing the new is looking better and better.
This from the God who says “Behold I make all things new . . . ” Isaiah 48:6, Rev 21:5 among other places. How we react to the “new” is indicative of who we are and what our values are. If we trust God to work things out for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose let’s be willing to embrace change. Oh I am not meaning to embrace every wind of doctrine or faddish thing that might be on the market or trending on Twitter. Not at all. But I am saying when it is clear where God wants us to go and that is the way the Holy Spirit is moving us, then pick your feet up off the ground and let Him take you. (an allusion to the river of God in Ezekiel 47) for those of you who missed it. And while I am on that same thought process, do you want to stay in Ezekiel 37 or do you want to move on to Ezekiel 47? You know what I mean I am sure if you know your Bible. No one really wants to stay in the valley of the dry bones. Surely we would all want to go with the flow of the river of God. Well not really. That is the what Ezekiel 47 is on about. There are some of us who dig our feet in against change screaming “No deeper”. Or some allow the change up to their knees (calf depth) others to waist level. But the point of this passage is getting your feet off the bottom so you are no longer in control and embracing what God wants for you.
The other reaction we have to change is seen in Peter’s reaction on the mount of Transfiguration. Bear in mind that transfiguration is synonymous with transformation and transformation means change. Many of us want to immortalize our past and are reluctant to let go of the things we have enshrined and deified in our experience. Peter said, “Wow this is good. Let’s stay here and build a monument to what has just happened. Let’s repeat the process. Now that we have seen the new, let’s make it familiar and keep repeating it. Peter wanted to build an altar to their experience of transformation and change but God wanted him to move on. The time was not yet to entrench and consolidate the ground we have gained. Beware of plateauing. Move when God moves. Wasn’t that the message of the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire in the wilderness for ancient Israel? God is always moving on. You don’t have to move backwards in order to “backslide”, you just have to stay put. (Now that is a deep comment – you will have to think about that one.)
Well there you have it. I could say much more but I think I have said enough.
Those are your choices.
- Patch it.
- Embrace the new.
- Cling on to the past.
I couldn’t resist a bunch of change sayings:
When change is necessary, not to change is destructive.A R Bernard
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.Maya Angelou
The best thing about your attitude is that it’s yours, and you can choose to change it!Joyce Meyer
We must become the change we want to see.Mahatma Ghandi
If you aren’t prepared to change your mind, don’t ask for input.Ian
Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.Regina Brett
God give me the peace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, & the wisdom to know the difference.Anon
God give me the peace to accept the people I cannot change, and courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s ME.Sidney Mohede
If you had to be the person you are today for the rest of your life, would you be happy? If the answer is no, the power to change is IN YOU!A R Bernard
If your habits don’t line up with your dream, then you need to either change your habits or change your dream.John Maxwell
You don’t have to move backwards in order to “backslide”, you just have to stay put. God is moving on.Ian Vail