Luke 5:33-39: The New Has Come

Read: Luke 5:33-39

Jesus was the king of parables, which he used very often to communicate truths about who he was, his mission, and things about God. Here in this text, Jesus tells a number of parables pertaining to himself. Jesus was reveling with his disciples and the Pharisees asked him why his disciples did not fast as John the Baptist’s disciples did. Jesus and the disciples were not breaking any part of the law. The fast of John his disciples was entire voluntary. The Pharisees though were not ones to be out done by another in terms of piety, and any one who they saw as less pious than themselves – especially one that was seen righteous such as Jesus or John. Jesus, howe, tells a parable about a wedding feast and a bridegroom, and saying that people don’t fast when they are at a wedding feast. Jesus describes himself as the bridegroom, saying that while he was with his disciples, they would feast and that a time for fasting was coming. This was partially prophetic, knowing that that one day Jesus would be taken away from them and during that time they would fast.

Jesus though does not leave it there. He adds another parable describing how old things and new things do not mix. An new patch cannot be sown on old clothes because the new patch will shrink making the tear worse. New wine cannot be put into old wineskin because wine causes wineskins to expand and stretch as it releases gas. New wine would cause old wineskin to burst. Lastly, no one drinks new wine when they desire old wine, because it is perceived to be better. What exactly Jesus is trying to say here is a bit of a mystery, but most commentators and scholars believe the Jesus is talking about his new ways versus the old ways of the Pharisees. When Jesus came on the scene though, he did not preach a message that compelled people to layer on more religion than they already had, rather he came preaching a message of repentance, wanting people to change their hearts.

Jesus will later speak to a “New Covenant” in Luke 22:20 when he is observing the first Lord’s Supper. He calls the wine the cup of the New Covenant. Hebrews 8 speak to the New Covenant which actually quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34. Hebrews shows that everything according to the law was a “copy or shadow” of the things in heaven and that when Jesus came, these were superseded by something better – namely Jesus himself, who is the priest, king, sacrifice, and the object of worship all rolled into one. The need for more religion, priests, sacrifices, temples, and objects of worship were no longer necessary under the New Covenant.

For those that come to Jesus today, there is no need for more religion. What the New Testament calls “true religion” has nothing to do with rites and rituals, rather taking care of orphans and widows (James 1:27). Jesus would rather one shed religion and perform acts of love and charity to demonstrate one’s piety than build temples, perform sacrifices, and other such things.

Lord, The new has come! Help me live according to it!