Fresh Wineskins

Fresh Wineskins

Some people are quick to disregard old things, as if everything traditional is bad. Other folks, on the other hand, are irrationally committed to old ways, even when new approaches might work better. This partly explains the ongoing tension between generations that always seems to be felt.
Jesus might’ve waded a little into a discussion like that with his challenge of the religion of his day. Many religious leaders rejected him because he was bringing something new, and for them, new = bad/false.
He used an illustration that for many of us may be familiar. If you put new, unfermented wine into old wineskins, the skins would burst because they were no longer sufficiently pliable to stretch to contain the wine as it fermented.
Jesus’ point seems to be this: “One cannot place the new wine of the gospel in the old wineskins of Pharisaic Judaism, for what will result is neither the gospel nor Judaism. Later history has shown that attempts to syncretize Christianity with another religious movement lead to an offspring inferior to both” (R.H. Stein).
As we enter 2020, perhaps we should ask ourselves, what “old wineskins” do we need to be willing to discard to embrace the newness in Christ? A lifeless traditionalism? An inactive spiritual life? Empty ritualism?
Would Jesus use this same parable if he were speaking to us? If so, how would he challenge us to embrace newness in 2020?

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