Jesus is using “mixed metaphors” when talking about what is old and what is new: old cloth and new wine. Very different metaphors.
Cloth needs to be patched when it is worn out or frayed. Jesus presumes we don’t simply toss out what is old. We keep it and patch it and continue to use it. Jesus is speaking symbolically about claiming our past, about being on good speaking terms with our own past. Jesus promises to be with us always, and that’s from the start until the end of our life.
In the wear and tear of your life, there’s going to be frays or holes of need. They are bound to happen. The fabric of your life will feel torn when someone dies, or when a relationship ends, or when you feel disappointed or hurt, or when you don’t get what you wanted or imagined. When some new tear or hole appears in the fabric of your life, remember your past, draw on your past, how you’ve been provided for, sustained, protected, healed, empowered up until now. Sooner or later, something is going to get ripped in your soul. It happens. When it happens, remembering and reclaiming your past will help you stitch help into the present and hope for the future. In the wear and tear of your life, when a fray or hole of need appears, remember your past. The patch comes from the past, from the old, well-worn cloth of your past.
Then Jesus switches the metaphor when he speaks of new wine to be saved in new wineskin. Jesus came to do a new thing, to make all things new, to give us a new heart. He speaks continually about what is new – it’s news – and it’s good news! Jesus uses this one liner, “You have heard it said… but I say.” The transformation he promises for us is so startlingly new, it’s so radical, so fresh, it’s like being born again. Spanking new. The abundant life he promises is like new wine which, of course, you would save and savor in a new wineskin. Today is a new day. Be present to what is amazingly new and now. Your past is not meant to imprison you but to launch you.
Jesus speaks metaphorically about the old and the new. We need both, both the old and the new, to be fully alive.
Where are you in touch with need? Where is there a hole in your heart? Something may be torn or worn, frayed or knotted. Your present need can be sutured by hope drawn from your past: how you have found strength and provision in the past, miracle that you are given everything you have faced in life. Draw from your past to claim help for the present and hope for the future. Remember your past, reclaim your past to patch the hole of need in the present.
Simultaneously, be open for what is new, for what God is wanting to birth in your life. You may need to detach from something of your past. Something new wants to happen, and that new thing requires space. You only need to say “yes” to your life, and you’re suddenly in a new space.
To be fully alive you need both the old and the new. God is working this out in your life, and in the most amazing ways. Surrender to what wants to happen. What does God want to happen in your life, now?
- See Matthew 4:23; 9:31; 9:35; 10:7; 11:5; 24:14; 26:13.
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