Luke 5:33-6:11, “New Wineskins”

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, Hi friend. If you not on Facebook, good for you, if you are not my friend, I would love to be your Facebook friend. 

 If you are a friend on Facebook you know that I have been going through 10 music albums that have impacted me over the years. It is a very nostalgic thing to do because music is a time machine. With a couple of bars, I can be 13 again round baling in our Belarus tractor, or I can be in my college dorm trying to stay awake reading 1 Chronicles, or driving with friends, or longing for a girl that might never love me, all of it with music.

It also reminds me of how much I’ve changed over the years, how much thought I have put into particular questions, how many times I was wrong on things. 

Back in bible college I first had to reason through many issues. I was and am someone who takes all of God’s word seriously. If you take God’s word seriously what are you to make of the fact that the bible commands

“You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material

Leviticus 19:19 

 Is God upset about cotton-poly blends? Why do we ignore this verse but take 

ESV You shall not steal.Exodus 20:15 “

very seriously? 

What is the difference between these two verses? because one of these we take very seriously, the other not at all. But why? it’s not like they are written in different typeset or they have a heading that says, “hey this part just take under advisement but this other stuff is applicable for you today” 

And when you get to apply the law, how do you do that? Does love your neighbour as yourself mean you should not step outside your house for fear of spreading COVID? How scrupulously should we keep these laws, and how should we treat others that might have a slightly different view?

Today, Jesus is going to give us some general guidance on these issues. As well as give us more insight into his person and character.

We are going to start with two short parables of Jesus, that are difficult to understand by themselves, but their meaning will become clear as we see the context that they are spoken in. 

And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. 38 “But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. “And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’ Luke 5:36

Two pictures, cloth and wineskins. The first is this picture of someone fixing an old garment. But to do it they take a brand new garment cut a piece from it, and then use this to patch the old one. 

 It’s like if I had an old pair of jeans with a rip in them. So I went to the shopping mall, strike that, If I clicked on Amazon, then waited 3 weeks for my new jeans, and then cut them up to patch my old jeans. Some of you who love their old jeans think this might make sense. but. 

These garments that they were were all-natural fibres and would shrink quite a bit. So now the new patch on the old garment will shrink and tear and generally look terrible.

 It’s a terrible idea, like planting a garden on a concrete pad.

The second parable is wineskins

 Wineskins were made out of sheep or goat neck, you know the dewlap part that is all stretchy. They cleaned it out, sewed it up and made a good container for wine. When it was new and fresh you could put your fresh grape juice in it, it would ferment into wine, expanding, contracting and keeping everything right. 

 But if you took an old wine-skin, which you could use for storing old wine or water, but if you put unfermented grape juice in it, the fermentation would cause it to explode. 

 These pictures are as ridiculous as putting water in a gas tank, no one would do this. 

 What Jesus is trying to get across to us is that something new will not match or work with something old. 

 What does Jesus mean by this? 

 Is the new good? Or is it bad because it destroys old things? And what to make of the last line.

39 “And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’

The new is rejected by those with a taste for the old.

I am going to tell you what it’s about and spend the rest of the sermon showing how I get there. 

This means, that Jesus is bringing a new form of worshipping God. The old forms are going to have to be discarded like old wineskins, like a ruined tunic. Jesus is not interested in patching the old forms of Judaism, He is not reforming it, He is beginning something new and fresh.

He will have a new way of understanding the Law, a new way of interpreting the Sabbath and a new way of honouring holidays. 

While Jesus’s new way is still wine like the old was wine. There is a continuity in worshipping God from Old to new Covenants, but the container needs to change in order to accommodate the new bubbling life of following Christ by the Spirit.

 I’m going to try to explain this to you in these 3 short stories about Jesus. the first is about fasting, the second about the observance of the law, and the third about the sabbath. Jesus’s points of conflict with the Pharisees give us important clues as to how following him is going to change everything about the external shape of following God, but maintain the core.

Part 1 – The bridegroom brings Joy

And they said to Him, “The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? “But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” Luke 5:33-35  

There was an expectation in Jesus’s day, that those who are really religious are going to fast. Fasting here means to refrain from eating for a period of time. Usually one morning and evening.

The assumption was that religious people were going to show their self-discipline by fasting and controlling their bodies. Similar ideas were found in Greek stoicism and platonic thought.

This is a popular but false view that the bible is all about what you cannot do, even in the Old Testament which was more strict there was only one commanded fast and it’s even up for debate.

Far more often the Bible commands for us to have feasts than fasts, contrary to popular belief, and the vibe that too many Christians give off. 

Here is the one commanded fast from the OT, on the day of atonement.

 “And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you Leviticus 16:29-30 

On the day of atonement, the Israelites were to “afflict” themselves. That is to be in a state of mourning which probably included fasting. Most of the Fast’s in the Old Testament were connected with a special prayer for deliverance from enemies or success against enemies, which is similar to how we still fast today during special times of pleading to God. 

The pharisee’s went far beyond the command of God and made fasting a regular part of their routine. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, we hear the Pharisee bragging of his fasting

I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ Luke 18:12  

But Jesus disciples break with this pattern because the bridegroom is with them. What reason could the disciples have to fast? Jesus the bridegroom, the messiah, the one, the fulfillment of every hope is with them.

Jesus calls himself the bridegroom here. And make no mistake about what Jesus is doing here because for about the 35th time in Luke already Jesus is calling himself God.

The “bridegroom” metaphor in the OT is exclusively used about God toward his bride Isreal. The most striking example being 

Ezekial 16 

When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine. Ezekiel 16:8

God loved Isreal as a bridegroom a bride, and Now the bridegroom has come. Jesus, God in the flesh has come, and his presence changes everything.

 Religious practice was no longer merely sorrow for sin and offering endless sacrifices, fasting and self-denial. Christianity is peace and pleasure in the person of Jesus Christ.

Now Jesus is not physically present with us right now, so we may fast from time to time. But the Spirit has been poured out, it is a new era, everything has changed because of Jesus coming. 

So when we read “

But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

We can see that the person of Jesus changes the practice of Religion. 

Instead of self-denial worshiping God is found most fulling in enjoying Him.

The fact of Jesus’s presence changes the practice of Religion. Instead of longing and self-denial, with Jesus, we have fulness of joy in Him.

Part 2 – Jesus interprets the law according to love.

 Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath; and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 3 And Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, 4 how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” 5 And He was saying to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  Luke 6:1

 First, I know what you are thinking. Why are they stealing the farmer’s grain! It’s strange to think but this was not stealing according to the Mosiac Law. 

Deuteronomy 23:25  If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain. 

Taking a snack is not stealing. This was no problem, the problem for the pharisee’s anyways was that this was the Sabbath day. 

According to the Mishnah, an ancient commentary on the law you were prohibited from doing 39 things on the sabbath day. Included in these were reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food. All four of these were being done by Jesus’s disciples, as well as perhaps travelling. So this Shocked the old wine-skins, I mean the Pharisees. 

 Jesus responds in an unexpected way. I expect him to just tell the Pharisees that they are wrong in their interpretation of the law. 

The fifth command is simply

Exodus 20:10-11  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it, you shall not do any work, 

The command was never meant to keep someone from grabbing a snack on a sabbath stroll. But Jesus does not go here, he decided to blow up half the Old Testament instead. Seriously…

Jesus points back to this story in the life of David when he is fleeing from Saul. He leaves Jerusalem and stops in Shiloh at the tabernacle looking for supplies.

Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread- if the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the LORD, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. 1 Samuel 21:2-6

David and the priest do something wrong here. The priest makes a big point about how the men have been kept from women, but the law is clear on this point, this bread is for the priests.

And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, Leviticus 24:9

But the text does not condemn David on this point.

So what is Jesus getting at here?

 The Preist is making a judgment call. The men are ritually clean, and able to come to God in worship, but the letter of the law states the bread is only for priests. The priest makes a judgment call to mercifully follow the spirit of the law but not necessarily the letter of the Law. 

The one point gives us a key to how Jesus wants us to read the OT. There is a kernel which we should take very seriously, but then there is an outer husk that we take into advisement but we do not slavishly labour under. Just like the Sabbath rules, we should take the commands with grace, not with exacting scrupulosity.

And I said that this story of Jesus blows up half the OT because if we read the OT with the kernel in mind rather then the husk we get something very akin to how most Christians have read the Old testament throughout the history of the Church, with a moral, civil, and ceremonial sections, with only the first one being in force. 

Even the OT prophets themselves lead us in this direction with texts like

Hosea 6:6

6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. 

 Even the Old Testament itself acknowledges a kernel and a husk.

Jesus ends with  

 “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” 

This again circles back to our main point that the person of Jesus changes the outer shell of the religion because God has become flesh. The old wine-skins will no longer do.

The Mishnah does not define the Sabbath, Jesus the king, God in the flesh does. 

And just how the first ideal king, David can set aside certain rules in an emergency. Christ, the fulfillment of David, the Son Of Man is going to set aside all the civil and ceremonial aspects of the law. Everything about the temple and sacrifice and in his own body create the fresh skin of the Church to accommodate the new bubbling wine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in which we are saved not by obedience to the law but by faith in Jesus alone.

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, Lord of the Law, separates the husk of the law to reveal the fruit.

Jesus shows how the outer husk of commands can be separated from the kernel moral commands in the Old Testament. 

Section 3 – the Pharisees reject Jesus.

6 On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 

(Probably paralyzed)

7 The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward. 

Jesus stands this guy up in the middle of the synagogue. Jesus is not avoiding conflict here, he is provoking it. He is doing exactly what will get the pharisee’s riled up and he knows it as surely as a sibling can provoke each other when they want. 

9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” 10 After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored. 11 But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. 

Now we should see what Jesus means by 

Luke 5:39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'”

The pharisee’s would not accept Jesus’s interpretation of the Law. They could not interpret the commands according to love and mercy.

Jesus heals this man, who is not in a life-threatening situation. This could have waited until sundown. But Jesus is proving a point, It is not a sin to do good on the Sabbath day.

The pharisee’s had a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Law was supposed to be applied. It was meant for human flourishing, not human limitation.

And now that Jesus is here everything was going to change. New wine would require new wine-skins.

The pharisee’s cannot stand the new wine of Jesus because they are in love with their unbiblical traditions.

So the three sections were

Part 1 – The bridegroom brings Joy

The fact of Jesus’s presence changes the practice of Religion. Instead of longing and self-denial, with Jesus, we have fulness of joy in Him.

Part 2 – Jesus interprets the law according to love.

Jesus shows how the outer husk of commands can be separated from the kernel moral commands in the Old Testament. 

Part 3 – the Pharisees reject Jesus.

The pharisee’s cannot stand the new wine of Jesus because they are in love with their unbiblical traditions. 

The pharisee’s had a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Law was supposed to be applied. It was meant for human flourishing, not human limitation.

All of these illustrate what Jesus means by the new wine and the need for new wine-skins. The pharisee’s are not going to get on board with Jesus’ message, they are not going to recognize his authority. They are not going to see him as the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Son of God.

Their traditions were to calcified, their interpretations too far off to recognize the truth. Their tastes were too accustomed to the stale wine of their old ways.

Two Applications for us today.

 The one is dealing with Old Testament laws. And we can see a little more insight here into there is a difference between the Kernel of the Law (like treating God as holy) and the husk of the law, (like laws about who can eat particular bread may be bent in the time of an emergency and even dispensed with as Jesus brings the new vessel for the Church to worship God. 

The second is how we apply commands in the bible in our lives and the life of the Church. We see that the commands are given for our good and enjoyment.

You cannot just ignore a command of God and call it love, but love clarifies how and with what spirit we follow the commands that God has given to us. 

The commands are not to chain ourselves and others, but to nurture us to spiritual health. We apply the law with Grace.

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