Devotional # 117. 12/29/14. New Years 2015. “New Year, New Wineskin.” Luke 5:36-39.
Intro. I hope everyone had a good Christmas; reminded of the most precious gift of Jesus birth. Now we turn our eyes to New Years. Often people come up with New Year’s resolutions (which we talked about last year at this time) but those rarely work because they try to do them on their own power. Today as I was thinking about the word “new” I thought about the hope and excitement that is often associated with the word. In Luke 5 Jesus compared new and old wineskins and (oddly?) I see some interesting parallels with this time of year.
v. 36. Luke starts this section off saying that Jesus spoke in a “parable.” A parable was a story that would help people understand a bigger idea or a deeper meaning. In the verses prior (vv. 29-35) the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus why He had His disciples do things differently than their disciples. His answer was that He was different from others. And He explained simply that if someone puts a new patch on old clothes it won’t work. What does Jesus mean, what’s His point?
I remember when I was a kid I always ripped out the knees in my pants and we didn’t have much money so my mom always patched the holes but I just ripped the patches. New material didn’t work in old, stretched material. In the same way Jesus’ “new [ways] does not match the old [ways].” So New Testament truth didn’t fit Old Testament ceremonial forms. Have you gotten locked into a version of religious service? On the outside are you cheerfully going to church every week but inside you just want to stay home? Do you read through a few Bible verses and call it good? Maybe you just read this devotional and think that’s good enough. I challenge you to ask the Holy Spirit to awaken you again! Remember Jesus’ plan for your “new life” doesn’t mean trading out one old tradition for another.
vv. 37-39. Jesus continues with another illustration. We’ve talked about wineskins before but, in case you forgot, a wineskin was animal hide that was cured to hold liquid. If a new wineskin had new wine put into it then it would expand as the wine fermented and everything was good. But if new wine tried expanding in an old wineskin it would crack and both were ruined. So when Jesus says “new wineskins” (v. 38) He means ceremonial fastings did not have the “elasticity” for the new wine of the New Covenant era. Again, His point was old rituals had no place with the Gospels.
We have been given a clear way to act from the Bible. Now there is nothing wrong with keeping the 10 Commandments but when it comes to old rituals, which have lost the heart of God, it’s time to get rid of them. Sadly there are many who call themselves Christians today that try and get other believers suckered into rituals and to let go of their freedom.
Conclusion. This New Year consider the “New Covenant” – not abandoning the “Old Covenant” but recognizing the freedom you have in Jesus. Don’t forget your first love (Revelation 2:4) but cling to Him. He will make your new year more exciting and less boring when you call Him “Master.” I hope you have a great New Year…and new year! It may have some difficulties but remember that is how God grows us into the best we can be. No matter how much we want to stay in our “old wineskins” – comfortable and content, God loves us to much to leave us that way! Here’s to new wineskins!