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Making Do or Being Made New

Mark 2:21-22
'No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.' (NIVUK)

In trying to understand something new, we compare it to something we already know.  That is why Jesus used parables.  Telling a story which people easily identified, He linked it with new teaching which shared the same principles.  These verses follow a discussion about fasting which had become a religious obsession (Mark 2:18-20), sometimes up to two or three days a week (Luke 18:12), even though the Mosaic law only demanded fasting on one day a year (Leviticus 23:27).  

It was difficult for the religious leaders to understand that Jesus had come to bring a new way of relating with God, replacing the system of rules and rituals (Hebrews 8:7-13).  They thought the Law given to Moses was permanent, whereas it was only temporary; it was a set of parables all looking forward to the arrival of Jesus (Hebrews 10:8-10).  He would be the High Priest, the sacrifice for sins, the bread of life, the tabernacle/temple … and so much more.  The Old Testament illustrations were tests of obedience at the time to see who loved the Lord but also prophetic descriptions by which people might recognise Jesus as the Messiah.     

So, He told these two parables.  They have a common theme – you cannot reliably patch up what is worn out; you need something new.  Jesus and His hearers knew that a patch of unshrunk cloth will tear away from old clothing as soon as it gets wet.  It just won't work - in fact, it only makes matters worse.  Likewise, the hardened goatskin that expanded with last year's fermenting wine will burst when new wine starts to ferment in the inelastic skins, and then all the wine will be lost.  The new life of Jesus cannot be constrained into a system of rules and rituals.  He has come to enter the hearts of believers in a new and intimate relationship intended to forge a new partnership of love, trust and shared service (2 Corinthians 5:17).  

Without Christ, His forgiveness, His love and the joy of relating with Him eternally - the human mind can only think of patching things up.  Like old clothes which we have loved to wear for many years, it takes courage to discard the familiar habits of life.  Some try to apply the best patches from favourite religious leaders and hope that life will be eternally watertight.   No! Jesus speaks about making everything new (Revelation 21:5).  What we need is a total transformation of motives and mentality, freedom from guilt and a dynamic relationship with God: and only Jesus can make that happen (Romans 12:2). When He does – the difference is obvious!  That is the story behind the CrossCheck video (www.crosscheck.org.uk).  So why not be radical, and share it with people who are fed up with failed patches?

Dear Lord. Thank You that Jesus is the only authorised way to Your heart. I am sorry when I make Your new life look like a failed home-improvement project. Please help me to let You change me from the inside, and then please fill me so that Your life and joy may be irresistibly obvious. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams