New Wineskins

Mark 2.18-22. Once when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, “Why don’t your disciples fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do?”Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”

This passage has always stumped me. I never got what the parables meant. Oh, I've been told a couple of different things, but they never really rang true.

Until now.

This morning as I was going through the Morning Office, this passage was our Gospel reading. As I almost finished the passage, the interpretation of the parables came flooding in. The parable, like so many of Jesus' parables was a retelling of the story of Israel. Jesus' Kingdom announcement was that YHWH, Israel's God was doing a new thing through him and his ministry. Jesus was inaugurating the long awaited Kingdom of God, the Rule of God. But, it wasn't going to be like Israel expected. God was not going to just let Israel keep its old agenda. God would not allow Israel to continue doing things they were doing. He was doing a new thing and they needed to get on board with that. The new thing consisted of new clothes and new wine. It wouldn't do to put new patches of cloth on an old garment, because the garment was not going to be used any more. It wouldn't do any good to put new wine in old wine skins because those wine skins were not going to be used any more. What God was implementing would need new clothes and new wine skins.

In other words, YHWH, the God of Israel, the creator God, was creating a new Israel around Jesus. I guess it wasn't really a new Israel as more of identifying the faithful Israel that was always there. Jesus was going around saying that the 'old way' of being Israel wasn't going to make it in God's new world. To be part of that New Creation Project, people would have to put aside their way of being Israel and trust him in his way. And when that happened, they would become 'new' -- new clothing, new wineskins, new people, new creation.

May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.



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