Then they said to him, ‘John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.’ Jesus said to them, ‘You cannot make wedding-guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.’ He also told them a parable: ‘No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, “The old is good.”’
This passage talks about the question of identity. In the first few lines Jesus describes who he is; the bridegroom. He knows with certainty his role, what that means for now and the future. He is not afraid to voice who he is and in speaking his identity, he silences his critics.
He then tells a parable to teach us about our identity. We are made new in Christ. We have new natures of righteousness and holiness through the death of Christ on the Cross. He died and took all our sin and our old ways with Him and now we live new lives.
Christ is our new garment of righteousness and the wineskin is our new life. We shouldn’t just try to patch up the old using the new life we have been given. Being saved is about having a whole new identity instead of taking pieces of new life and placing it over the holes in the old life. As Christians we move forwards completely. The Spirit (the new wine) fills our new life in Christ and everything is good, new and fresh.
The mystery of life with Christ is that we are constantly renewed and His mercies are new every morning. So when we fail and we try to patch up mistakes with new ways, it doesn’t work well. We cannot make ourselves righteous, only Christ can do that. We are continually working out our salvation and learning our new identity in Jesus. Instead of constantly looking back and saying the old ways are better we have to stop, taste, drink, have our thirst quenched and our lives filled by the fresh and new life that Jesus has given us every day. Then we can move forward, full of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, help me to live in the newness of life that you give. May my days be lived renewed, not patched with the old. May my ways be alive and strengthened by the Spirit I hold. May what I say be a reflection of your life in me, fresh and bold. May I always know who I am in you and live in your joy everyday. Amen