New wine! Empowered by grace.

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And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”                 Luke 5:36-39

Jewish Scribes and Pharisees were offended by Jesus’ apparent disregard for their Law-on-steroids traditions of how to live in a way that would please God.  Jesus healed (“worked”) on their Sabbath,  did not observe all their fasts, and he ate meals with tax-gatherers and sinners.  He responded with this metaphor contrasting His new order for life lived in relation to God with their performance-based system.

In essence, He challenged them to see how they could never understand His new teachings if they clung fast to their time-tried traditions.  The new wine of grace would tear and burst their rulebooks.   Although the Law was good and would never pass away (Matthew 5:17, 24:35), mankind has never been capable of keeping it.  Jesus came into the world to fulfill the Law for us, through the perfect life He lived.  No longer was Law-keeping the means for man to make himself acceptable to God.  Jesus had made him acceptable, by paying the penalty for man’s sins and living the perfect life they could not live.  His righteousness has been credited to our account.

The Law is said to be our “tutor, to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)  A child learning to ride a bicycle must go through the frustrating, frightening, and painful process of trial and error, accidents, and tears.  So it is with our attempts to “be good” by our own efforts, striving to fulfill the dictates of the Law.  We need our daddy as tutor, running beside us, his hand on the seat of our bike, holding us steady.  When His lost sheep hear His voice, come to Him, and trust Him, Jesus plants His Holy Spirit within them, giving them new capacity to obey God.  This is no longer in their own limited capacity, but now in the strength of the Holy Spirit within them.

Lord, I am intoxicated with Your new wine.  Thank You for working in me to desire to obey You in all things and for empowering me to be able to do that — not in my own efforts, but through the indwelling power of Your Holy Spirit.

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