Patches and wineskins…this parable comes from 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.”
New patches on old clothes…new wine into old wineskins…huh??? That Jesus has an odd way of making his points yet what point is he making here? First, what happens when you sew a new patch on old clothes then wash it? The new patch shrinks and a tear forms in the patch and the garment.
What happens when you put new wine into old wineskins? New wineskins are elastic – they expand with the gases given off during fermentation of the new wine. The old wine skins are hard and unyielding – the gases of the new wine will explode the old skins.
Ok, you ask – hey Jesus, what’s your point? Jesus is the new patch and the new wine. Jesus “participates” as a human being in cultural surroundings and he is different. How so you might ask – sure, you’ve read your Bible…Jesus is like the scribes in that he teaches – but his authority surpasses theirs. Jesus honors the Torah in a way unlike the others because he is not bound by the Torah…he heals on the Sabbath. Jesus gives of himself completely…humbling himself as a servant to others but never surrenders his divine authority. Jesus gives himself completely to the world yet he is not controlled or captive of the world.
Devotional Thought: The question, today, is not about whether the disciples will make room for Jesus – like sewing a new patch on or refilling an old wineskin. The question for his disciples is whether they can step away from the everyday “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and become new receptacles for the “fermentation” of Jesus and the gospel in your lives.