After looking around at them all, [Jesus] told [the man with a paralyzed hand], “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. [The Scribes and Pharisees], however, were filled with rage and started discussing with one another what they might do with Jesus. (Luke 6:10-11)
The religious leaders were more concerned about maintaining their protocol than experiencing God’s power. Rather than rejoice that God showed His glory by making a man whole, they were enraged that He didn’t bow to their tradition.
These people were so hyper-concerned with practicing their religion “rightly” that they wanted to stop Jesus from changing a man’s life because it didn’t fit their box.
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” (Mark 2:22)
Jesus is with His disciples, and they get questioned by the Pharisees, the religious leaders of their day.
The essence of the encounter is that the Pharisees come to Jesus and tell Him, “You’re doing it wrong. This is how we are supposed to serve God, and you aren’t following the rules.”
Now, the Law of Judaism was a good thing, but in Christ a better thing had come. The traditions of the past had their place, but in Christ better ways had arrived. The problem with the Pharisees wasn’t that they weren’t following God at all, but that they weren’t willing to accept that sometimes He exchanges old ways for better ones.
As a result, despite all their obedience to the Law, the Pharisees were positioning themselves to become enemies of God.
So, Jesus gives them an illustration of their hearts, using the imagery of wine and wineskins. His basic point is this, “You can’t receive new blessings if you aren’t open to new ways.”
Why would He hold back blessings? He tells us why, “the wine [will be] destroyed, and so [will be] the skins.” Why would God pour out blessings on a life that won’t receive them with an open heart? Why would He offer new power to those who won’t accept a new perspective?
When it comes to the things of God, far more is gained with an open heart than with a closed hand. God is faithful, and He will show you what things to hold on to and what things need to be let go. The question is, are you willing to listen?
May you have ears to hear His Spirit whisper the new things He wants to pour into your life, for He gives good wine indeed. And, may you have hands that are open to receive the hope that comes from this truth: God wants to pour new things into your life.
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Have you ever noticed that sometimes Jesus is a troublemaker?
Jesus said to [the invalid], “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'” -John 5:8-11
The crippled man had been waiting 38 years, so surely another twenty-four hours wouldn’t have mattered. Jesus could have healed him just fine and told him to relax and wait to carry his mat the next day, the day after the Sabbath.
But He didn’t.
This was no accident. Jesus knew full well what He was doing: intentionally targeting the legalistic hearts of the religious leaders of His day.
While He never condones sin, when Jesus moves His goal is always to draw the focus to Himself rather than to tradition. His actions consistently demonstrate and declare that resurrection triumphs over religion. Why is this the case? Because it is the power of Christ that restores us, not our own ability to save ourselves.
In this story, in a bold act of righteous rebellion against the man-made rules of religious nitpickers, Jesus prioritized people over principles, love over law, the Spirit of Life over the letter of God’s command.
“Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” -Matthew 9:17
How easy it is in our “newer-is-better” consumer culture to discard the old in favor of the new…but Jesus doesn’t do that. Jesus finds value in both the seasoned and the start-up, the trendy and the traditional.
Don’t be so quick to embrace the shine of the present that you miss the substance of the past, and don’t let the comfort of the familiar keep you from the fresh wine of a brand new day.