Scenes From Levi’s Deli: THE NEW WINESKINS
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17 (NLT)
For a guy named Levi it all started with a simple request, “Follow Me” and it now has turned into those wacky Pharisees questioning the very Man that chooses to eat with “such scum” and why His disciples don’t fast. As Levi becomes our beloved Matthew I can only imagine what runs through his mind during this. He is more than likely use to being called “such scum” because he was once a tax collector but as for this Man who requested that he “Follow Me”? Nah…can’t be right to question this Man. Something ain’t right here. Old clothes with new patches, new wine in old wineskins and the Bridegroom is here so why mourn? “What is this Rabbi up to?” might think our beloved Matthew.
Jesus’ response to this inquiry of why doesn’t He and His followers do what every other religious leader (even the disciples of John the Baptist) does, I think, speaks volumes to the heart of The Savior. Now for the sake of commentary John Calvin stated that the old wineskins and the old garment represent Jesus’ disciples, and the new wine and unshrunk cloth represent the practice of fasting twice a week because fasting this way would be burdensome to the new disciples, and would be more than they could bear but I don’t think that really completes the picture. There is something about wanting to change things from old into new that I think Jesus want’s to impart to “such scum” and He wants to make sure we receive it.
Jesus used these descriptions of old clothes with new patches and new wine in old wineskins to explain that it wasn’t about fixing up the religious system that was already in place but to replace it totally. He wanted forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God to be available to all and not the few. And those few thought themselves right with God so they didn’t need what Jesus came to give. Also those few were making atonement almost out of reach for the common man at the time because of their own greed and thirst for power along with the greed and the iron fist of Rome. It was no way to live a purposeful life devoted to YHVH because it was set up to serve men. Not sure I would have survived long in these times as I have had a habit of bucking the system from time to time.
Even today I think we have places and churches that stick with an old rigid legalistic way of looking at salvation in Christ Jesus instead of letting the Gospel do its work of constant renewal of those who are called to be disciples of Jesus, which should be all of us who claim to be Christian. “When we FOLLOW Christ, we must be prepared for new ways to live, new ways to looks at people and new ways to serve.” (NLT Life Application Bible) I don’t think we are a once saved wineskin sack sitting on a hook filled with new wine not to be shared. That wineskin must be emptied, that means sharing Jesus (the new wine) with everyone and allowing The Master to make you into a new wineskin so that you can be used again.
And Jesus wants to use “such scum” to do this with. If we are on the corner shooting off at the mouth that at least we ain’t like the world around us because we are Christians we totally miss the point. You should be on the corner ready to empty yourself for the Gospels sake and the Gospels sake alone!! Now I can’t say that I totally have arrived at this point in my walk, oh no, I still have my favorite old flannel and at times wonder why some Christians don’t do what I do but I realize that I am in need of constantly going to exchange counter and trading me for He. After all, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) In this there is peace. Amen? Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a weekly Freedom Fighter Blogger. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Daily Bible Reading: Proverbs 22-24; Hebrews 2
Think About This: “God often sends help in mysterious ways, and we are not trying to understand the secrets of God. We only need to be obedient to what he has revealed to us.”—Fenelon
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands. Psalm 78:72