Jesus creates quite a stir in His public ministry. . .the "commoners", the masses begin to flock to Him and not just because of the miracles and healings (though that is a huge part of it). . .
They come because He teaches in a way that has authority. . .and the actual things being said. . .well, they aren't exactly what you heard in your Jewish Sunday School. . .
He attracts the attention of the religious leaders who come to question His authority, identity and the content of His teachings. In one story, he's questioned by some of the crowd who basically say:
"Hey, all good religious folk spend a ton of time keeping the ceremonial laws, especially regular fasting. Your disciples don't even fast. . .at all! What's up with that?!"
Jesus gives a brief response about celebrating at a wedding when the groom is with them--you can fast later! And then He drops one of His weirder chunks of wisdom:
"No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.' " (Luke 5:36-39)
Jesus was telling them He was bringing new wine (and was Himself going to be poured out like new wine, yes?) but He needed vessels who would receive this new wine. As wine ferments it produces gasses which puts tremendous pressure on whatever container they are in. . .new animal bladder skins could expand with the chemical reaction, giving the new wine room to "grow".
Wineskins which had already went through this process had already been stretched to their limit. . .if you tried to reuse the skin and place new wine in it, the expansion this time would lead to an explosion instead--and a loss of both skin and wine.
I will try to refrain from preaching here too much (It's a blog, not a pulpit, Matt!) but one more little scriptural concept before our Buddy-Caleb application (that makes no sense unless you read parts 1 and 2). . .
Jesus also came as the Cornerstone. The centering stone and key-stone to the whole temple. . .which as He and the New Testament writers make clear was not the literal temple any longer but a living building made of people who centered and built their lives on and in Christ. The people were to become the temple, the place where God dwells, through the Cross and Tomb work of Christ and the presence of the Spirit. . .
Jesus the new (yet old) Cornerstone was a threat to the old temple and everything it represented. . .even though He is was the very fulfillment of all it represented! And here's the thing: Jesus is still the Cornerstone and is always the cornerstone and He is always building His temple in each community, culture, and era. And therefore, He is always a threat to the "old temple".
Buddy! You path-keeping Doberman! You have been faithful, you have run your course and you held the line, blazed the trails, and defended them. Wine was poured into you and you expanded with it and now, nearing the end, you do not have the capacity for new wine. . .this is OK, expected, and known by God. However, what is not OK is to then try to derail the generations behind you from expanding with their own new wine.Yes, your paths are worn and true and they have been beautiful things for you. . .BUT. . .there will always be new puppies coming along. . .
What is your duty with the new pups?
If Jesus is the wine metaphorically that we're talking about, a relationship with Him and following His paths of love, mercy, justice, humility and faithfulness then that is what you want to pass on. More than traditions, methodologies, events, preferences. . .pass on to the next generation the marks of Christ. It takes a wise and gracious ear to listen past the differences and hear the voice of the Cornerstone in the hyper puppies all around you. . .
Woe to you if you protect the wineskins and prevent others from enjoying their wine. . .
But, but, but. . .their wine isn't like our wine!! Jesus knew this complaint as well, remember? ". . .no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"
Each generation has an obligation to listen for the Cornerstone's voice and to build their lives (individually and corporately) in obedience and trust with that voice. . .
"But, but, but. . .these puppies are reckless and have no respect, and just don't get it!" Oh, don't worry, I will address them soon enough. . .but I still have another blog for you in Part 4.
But just remember this you old wise dogs: what happens to puppies?
Lord willing, they grow up to be wise old dogs too, don't they?
So this blog really is for them too. . .they just don't know it yet. . .