New Wine – 3 September 2021 Luke 5:33-39

Gospel Reflections September 2021

Grace and Peace to you form God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

Todays Gospel Reading Luke 5:33- 39 (NIV)

There are parts of this text that are often quoted and even a movement of the Anglican Church called New Wine. The movement is built on the fact that Jesus called us to a new kind of faith and action and that this text calls for a move against traditionalism.

When reading this text (as with any Scripture reading)  it is important that we first understand who Jesus was speaking to and what point he was making to them. This is an interaction with the Pharisees who had made up a lot of laws in addition to the Biblical ones laid down in the Jewish law. Fasting was one of them – the Pharisees saw fasting as an act of righteousness that set them above everyone else. You remember Jesus’ criticism of the way they fasted to look righteous in the eyes of people (Matthew 6:16) as opposed to being an act to draw them closer to God. He used their own practice against them when he says – even you don’t fast during a wedding banquet – even you know that one must behave appropriately for the season you are in.  In this text Jesus criticises the Pharisees for not recognising what God is doing in their very midst – in the broader narrative Jesus says to the Pharisees that they are like people who arrive at a wedding as mourners, as if they were at a funeral – their customs have confused them and their behaviour is inappropriate.

There is more to the analogy of the new cloth and an old garment than I can cover now – but what is important here is the clash between what Jesus  – the New Garment was doing and what the old garment of the Pharisees were trying to do – you can’t fix your religion, Jesus says by destroying mine – spend some time thinking that one through  – for that is what the Pharisees tried to do.

Jesus goes at them again – in those days wine was stored in a leather bag – a wine skin – you don’t mix new and old wine – new wine must be put into a new wine skin because the old wine skin is worn out and the new wine would be wasted – Jesus is saying you need a change of heart – but vs 39 says – but you don’t want a change of heart you are set in your ways and have acquired the taste for the old wine – the Pharisees since the days of the return from exile had tried to go back to the way things were in a former era and thought that by going back they could maintain the righteous ways of God. But Jesus is saying there is a new king establishing the Kingdom and a new heart is required to serve him.

In short Jesus makes it clear that the Pharisaic way is not the true way to God – Jesus is the way the truth and the life not the Jewish Religion practiced by the Pharisees at that time. He is also saying that the season for Pharisaic Judaism is over  – they need to let go of that and embrace the teachings of the Son of God.

Through the Prophet Isaiah God said “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Is 43:19

So, what can we learn about our own faith journey, especially in this season  –

We must be willing to live in the season that we are in and not hanker after the past. We must be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). There are things that we need to let go of, in order to wear the new robe of righteousness – we don’t just patch our lives with the love and mercy and grace of Jesus – we don’t add Jesus on to who we are – we allow Jesus to transform us.

What do we need to let go of today in order for God’s love to fill our lives and make us new?

Let us pray – Lord God by your Spirit help us to put the old garment of our understanding away and take on the new garment of righteousness that is ours in Jesus Christ. Transform us give us the mind of Christ and draw us into your love and mercy and grace so that we can live to your praise and glory.

Leave a Reply