This week in Women’s Bible Studies, part of our lesson was from Mark 2:18-22. When Jesus is asked why his disciples do not fast, he explains that the wedding guests don’t fast while the bridegroom is with them. Jesus is proclaiming he’s the bridegroom and while he’s with the people, it’s not time to fast but to feast and fasting will come when he’s taken away.
Then Jesus speaks of patching an old garment with new fabric and how it won’t hold. Nor will old wineskins hold if new wine is poured into them – they will burst and destroy the wine and the skins. The old and new don’t go together. The presence and teaching of Jesus were something new and signaled the passing of the old which couldn’t contain it.
I’ve been reflecting on these metaphors and pondering where I’m still trying to fit my new, redeemed life into old containers. My new life in Christ (granted it’s over 40 years old!) doesn’t fit into my old clothes. Though I’ll soon be 60 years old, those first 18 years or so made a big impression! They were formative in determining the lens through which I see life. When I started following Christ I became “a new creation,” redeemed and set free, but I’m in process, being transformed.
Much to my dismay, I still find that I can hold onto my old ways, experiencing times of guilt or shame and an inflated sense of responsibility rather than clinging to the Jesus, “I’ve-been-set-free” way. This new way is free from the chains of insults, criticism or disapproval and knows infinite worth and joy in my God’s creating and saving love. Success or acceptance doesn’t come from being super responsible or from being anywhere close to perfect. Our hope is in Christ alone.
Let’s remember that new wine doesn’t fit in old wineskins and we can be watchful for the new things our Lord is doing. Even during Covid and election stress, God is at work doing new things, so we need fresh wineskins. This week I am praising God that “he who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6