16 “No one patches up an old coat with a piece of new cloth, for the new patch will shrink and make an even bigger hole in the coat. 17 Nor does anyone pour new wine into used wineskins, for the skins will burst, the wine will pour out, and the skins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins, and both will keep in good condition.”
These verses are Jesus response to ongoing criticism from the religious authorities. Their ongoing theme could be summarized as ‘why aren’t you doing it our way,’ – the implication being that their way was the right way. They were the officials of a holy nation who were awaiting their promised Messiah, and when he was right there in front of them, they kept trying to force him into their ‘shape’. Jesus spoke a lot about what God’s Kingdom – the place where God’s will rules – was like, particularly in Matthew’s gospel. He attempted to show what it was all about in his life and actions, but they just kept pointing to their traditions, and couldn’t conceive of a way of life that transcended them.
Jesus brings new life – life in all its fullness and we can’t expect to be able to cram it into old values and lifestyles and still be the abundant life we are looking for. Our traditions and rituals can have great value, but traditionalism – where the tradition is honoured or deemed more important that Jesus Christ, is a poor vessel for the life of faith. Are we willing to be renewed ourselves, or to see the renewal of the church, in order to more experience and share the Kingdom of God with others?
Father, thank you that you have made it possible for us to have a new life in relationship with you. We praise you that your Kingdom is one of liberty and love, not legalism and limitation. We ask that you help us let go of the old where it is not helpful or beneficial to your vision for us.
What does God want you to fully embrace today? Is there a habit, deeply held value or mindset that’s preventing you from doing that? Consider whether it’s time to let go or to change something.