Luke 5 – Old wine and new wine – is the old better?


I saw a post on Facebook about the feasts of the Old Testament and how much we can learn from them. One commenter asked whether Christians are supposed to be celebrating these feasts. I thought how Paul spent a great deal of his ministry trying to convince Jewish Christians that it was not necessary for them, or for gentile converts, to follow the Mosaic law. It was something they just couldn’t give up easily.

This morning I was listening to Luke 5, and I thought of the scribes and Pharisees and their strong desire to continue in the observance of Mosaic law. Though it had taught them to look for a Messiah, the messiah they were looking for didn’t look like Jesus. They couldn’t ignore what Jesus was doing, yet they saw him as an interloper rather than their Shepherd.

Luke 5:27-39
27 ¶And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.

28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.

I really wish I could have heard the words he spoke when he taught them.

30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?

31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.

32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The scribes and Pharisees appealed to tradition and questioned Jesus about it. They could clearly see the flaws of others, but they couldn’t see their own. Jesus was calling sinners to repentance and the publicans and sinners were responding.

33 ¶And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?

34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?

35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

Jesus was also not asking His disciples to follow after John the Baptist because He, the bridegroom had come. John the Baptist was a forerunner. He had prepared the way for Christ. His duty had been fulfulled.

36 ¶And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.

37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.

38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.

The Mosaic law had also been a forerunner to Christ. It was to point the children of Israel to the coming of the Messiah, and it was about to be fulfilled. Instead of building on the foundation of the Mosaic law, Jesus was creating a different structure. Instead of choosing his apostles from the groups who currently had stewardship over the law and the spiritual instruction of the people, Jesus was choosing his apostles from those who were humble receptive, and able to see that He was the promised Messiah.

39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

Even the Jews who would become converts to the gospel of Christ would have a difficult time giving up the traditions that had become such a part of their culture.


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