The Newness of Christ
On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright forever changed the world with their first airplane flight. Their plane had a wingspan of 20' by 4' and a weight of 750 pounds. The 12-15 horsepower engine enabled them to fly 12 seconds and travel 120 feet. Do you think the Wright brothers had any idea how the technology of aircraft would change in the next 100 years? Imagine today our largest commercial passenger airliner (a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet): 230' feet long, wingspan of 211 feet, 63' tall, weighs 800,000 pounds, carries 400 passengers, can cruise at a speed of 600 miles per hour, and fly 7,200 nonstop miles.
The question is: what do you think would happen if you placed the engine of the Boeing 747 (with 60,000 pounds of fuel) onto the frame of the original Wright brothers' aircraft? How do you think the wooden frame of the original plane would handle the modern jet engine?
In Mark 2, Jesus has had another run-in with the religious leaders. He was asked why His disciples did not fast. In His answer and explanation, Jesus likened His presence and ministry to a wedding. As the Bridegroom, Jesus is surrounded by His happy friends. It is a time of feasting not fasting. He went on to say (v. 20) that there would come a time when the Bridegroom will be "taken away"--this word means "removal by force" and refers to when Jesus would be taken to the cross. Then fasting would be appropriate.
Then Jesus proceeded to give Two Illustrations to announce the arrival of a NEW era that would be incompatible with the OLD era:
1. Old and New Cloth. (v.21). In Jesus' day, people did not throw away torn clothes. Every mother knew how to patch a tear by finding a piece of cloth to cover the hole. Jesus said that no one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment--"unshrunk" means new from the fuller, unwashed. Jesus went on to say that if an new piece of cloth were sewn on an already shrunken garment, the result would be that the old garment would be ripped and torn worse than ever.
The Old garment refers to the teaching of the Pharisees. There was no way their Old and His New could be combined. There was no way to patch the New Covenant onto the Old ritual and ceremony of the Law.
In the early days of the Church, we see false teachers trying to sew the New garment of Christianity onto the Old garment of Judaism. In Galatians 5:1-12 a group called "Judaizers" followed Paul and this was their message: "You may be saved by trusting in Christ--but you must be circumcised and keep the whole Law." Do you know what Paul told them? He said, "No! Christ has made us free! and we are not to be entangled (patched) again with a yoke of bondage. Even though Jesus paid our debt, there cannot be a mixture of grace and Law.
Often people seem to be sewing a patch of Christianity on a faulty life. In Colossians 3:9, Paul said, "Put off the Old man with his deeds"--you cannot patch the Old man up! No! We are urged to "put on the New man who is renewed in knowledge of Christ" (Col. 3:10). When you patch up the outside, this is called "Reformation." Some don't want a complete change of clothes--they would rather put a temporary moral patch on an old, guilty, defeated, torn lifestyle. We need salvation--putting a New man in a New suit!
2. Old and New Wine. (v. 22). There were no glass bottles in Jesus' day. Instead, a goat was killed a its skin was tanned; the neck was left open for a spout and the openings were sown shut. Wine was kept in these goatskins. When wine was made, Jesus said, New wineskins should be used. The Old wineskins had been stretched by the first wine put in them--so they were becoming hard, worn, and brittle. They could not stretch or expand anymore. So, if New wine would be poured into an Old wineskin, the fermentation would generate certain gases that would exercise pressure on the Old wineskin vessel. Jesus said the New wine would burst the Old wineskins because they did not have the capacity and elasticity to hold the strong new wine.
Something was happening! Jesus brought in joy, freedom, and power that the Old wineskins of Judaism were incapable of containing. Remember, Jesus said, "I did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill the Law"--and He filled full the Law in all aspects. He filled the Ceremonial Law--all the sacrifices, offerings, feasts, and holy days. He filled the Moral Law by keeping it perfectly.
Like New wine, Jesus is in us--as a fermenting force! Have you ever felt the love for God and people with all your heart--filled! Has the joy of God overflowed from your heart in an inexpressible way (1 Peter 1:8)? You were so happy in the Lord that you thought you would burst! The New wine of Jesus!
More than anything, the "old" way of the Pharisees was based on "Rules." The original Ten Commandments were taken and expanded upon with the result that over 600 rules were held over the people. A person could be called a "sinner" for breaking the Ceremonial Law as well as the Moral Law.
Being God's child is not based on rules or tradition--but a Relationship! Knowing God is not based on rules, but, through repentance and trust--a person enters into a New, living, personal relationship with God through Christ. Because we love Jesus, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). The "old" way was not strong enough to effect this loving obedience in us.
Do you use a typewriter? Very few people use an old-fashioned typewriter any more. Know why? The computer, with all of its mind-boggling capabilities, has SO FILLED the place of the typewriter that we would never consider using a typewriter again!
God never intended for Christianity to PATCH UP the Old Testament Jewish way. Jesus brings in the New creation, a New wine! The old rules and traditions have been FILLED UP through the New power and love of Jesus Christ. Are you trying to patch up your flaws and shortcomings? Reformation will not work--it is faulty and temporary. We need transformation and salvation that only Jesus Christ can provide through His death for sin on the cross and His resurrection from the grave.
God wants to put a New man in you today!