Well, before we start, I want to share something with you. First off, I got some push back on my explanation of verse 39 last week, so I want to share with you what it was and my response. I also want to share this with you because I want to encourage you to push back if you come across something that you think I may have interpreted incorrectly. I am not inerrant. The Bible is, but there are times when we may get parts of it wrong. the best way to get things right in scripture is to get into it and wrestle with the text. So, I would like to say thank you for pushing back, and share with you all what I had hoped to communicate, and what an alternative interpretation is.
I also wanted to share this with you because I felt like it was the worst explanation of a verse that I have ever done. I think it was due to the fact that I had written and thought about it a week before and i didn’t work on it much last week, so it was a little foggy for me.
So, if you are in Luke 5, verses 38-39 say, if you recall, after Jesus told a parable of the new patch on an old garment and new wine into old wineskins, he says this, “but new wine must be placed into fresh wineskins. AND no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, “the Old is good.””
Now, I want to read John Piper’s explanation of that verse,
“No one who drinks old wine desires the new, because he says the old is good” (Luke 5:39), what he meant was, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I think he is probably right. The point was: Jesus and his teaching were the new wine coming into the world, but the scribes and Pharisees could not bring themselves to even try the new, let alone enjoy it.
There are some very natural reasons why you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I think if we understand some of these reasons we can change “can’t” to “almost can’t.” My car has a clutch, but the Stellers’ car is automatic. Whenever I borrow their car I still push the clutch even though it’s not there. I’m already an “old dog” at 35. The explanation is simple: Repeated combinations of activity establish associations in our brain which then tend to occur together. So there is nothing very odd about being an “old dog” no matter how old you are.
But there is more to it when our religious convictions are involved. Suppose you have held a doctrinal conviction for 50 years and have taught it in many Sunday School classes and have rejoiced in it in your private meditations. And suppose you are wrong. (This has to be possible because there are many 65-year-old people who hold contradictory doctrinal convictions. Somebody is wrong.) Now suppose somebody comes along and offers the new wine of a contrary doctrinal view and has totally compelling biblical support. Can the “old dog” learn the “new trick”? It is not very likely. The hindrances in this case are a good deal harder to overcome than the associations of reflexes in the brain.”
Now, many of you know how much I love Dr. Piper, so I will ultimately yield to his and other’s assessments of the verse, however, I have trouble with something, and that is the word “and” in this verse. he says that you must put new wine into fresh wineskins, AND no one desires new after drinking old. If there was a “but” there, it would make more sense with his interpretation. “And” is adding to what he said, with a similar thought, not saying something seemingly contradictory. Now, follow with me for a second and at least let me explain better what I think is going on in this text.
New Patch/Old Garment —washing—-> Tears Garment, not useful
New wine/old wineskin —ferment.——-> Bursts wineskins, not drinkable
New wine/new wineskin—ferment.——> Better wine, superior enjoyment.
If you take a fresh patch on a shirt and give it to someone, it will look fine, if you want to drink new wine, you can use old wineskins, and it will taste fine. But if you want a garment to last, or if you want the more full enjoyment, allow it to age.
In the same way, you can add Jesus to the old Covenant for a time, but in the end, you will either be frustrated, or proud, because you will no longer see Jesus as all of your righteousness, you will have your part and jesus will have His, and ultimately, you will not receive your reward. If you believe that your merit gets you favor, you will be surprised when you succeed, and you don’t receive your “reward”. Furthermore, you will not approach God when you have failed, because you do not believe you have held up your end of the deal. What I am saying is that the end goal of the new covenant is a lifetime of enjoying the wine of Christ. If you try to add him to your good works, your faith will be wrecked, but if you allow him to be new wine in a new skin, you will have a faith to enjoy.
To illustrate the point further, look at James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:3-9. So you see, in each of these texts, there is a desired outcome of secure faith that can only come through testing and that testing is mostly suffering. Also, think about the parable of the Sower, the seeds were proven to have fallen on good soil after they grew and produced rain. Philippians 2:14-18
So, what I am saying is that it is possible that what Jesus is referring to is that when you accept His gift of salvation the He brings through the new covenant, your belief in it will be tested, and if you have not tried to sew Jesus into your old religion, or put new Jesus into old wineskins, when the trials come and on your last day, you will say, there is a garment to wear, because I trusted in the new garment, and there is aged, superior wine to drink, because I didn’t try to stuff it into old wineskins. That is what I was trying to say.
I am not going to say that is exactly what He meant. I will yield to Dr. Piper, but I do want to ask Jesus when I see him. And, I hope I’m right.
Now, lets take some time to get into our next text.
2 stories, grain on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath
Wheat: 1 Sam 21