A little more on the Pharisees and teachers of the law with regards to control. These men were brilliant at designing a way of life that was obtainable through a system of rules and laws. Most of them would have known the 613 Jewish commandments by heart. The great thing (for them) is that they were in a high enough place of authority in the community that they didn’t really have to live by these commandments themselves. They could pick and choose what to focus on, and highlight their areas of strength. It’s helpful for me to go back to Jesus’ early teachings to get his perspective on this way of living.
21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:21-22) What was Jesus getting at here? What is this new wine in new wineskins all about? The context of these two statements comes on the heals of the Pharisees questioning why Jesus’ disciples aren’t fasting, and why He is healing people on the Sabbath. These two disciplines were at the core of this lifestyle of control that the Pharisees had devised. They took two these two wonderful practices of fasting and rest and turned them into a means of control. Before I get to comfortable ridiculing the Pharisees for their short sidedness, I have to ask myself what I have chosen to focus on or order to maintain control of my own life and those around me. It’s a tough question to ask, but it is needed in order to experience the freedom of living life that Jesus is offering.
Jesus wants us to enjoy this new wine in new wine skins, this whole new way of living life with Him that circumvents any rules or rituals. Jesus cares so much for us that He wants us to experience a life that is free from control. His desire is for us to join Him on this adventure of living life a part from our need to have everything figured out. New wine in new wine skins is refreshing because it provides an opportunity for us to be in His presence, uncertain of how things will turn out. Our only hope is in Him, and that is exactly the way He wants it.