SOME PARABLES MAKE MY BRAIN HURT

MUSINGS – September 25 2018

SOME PARABLES MAKE MY BRAIN HURT

Mark 2:21-22
No one patches an old coat with a new piece of cloth that will shrink. Otherwise, the new patch will shrink and rip away some of the old cloth, and the tear will become worse. People don’t pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the wine will make the skins burst, and both the wine and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine is to be poured into fresh skins.”

This section of scripture has always been a mystery to me. It falls between stories of Jesus defending his disciples because of their unorthodox actions (not fasting and working on the Sabbath). Yet I’ve never seen how this section “fits” in the narrative.

It is a parable or an allegory designed to teach me something. But for years I have not understood what the teaching means.

In the natural or physically world it makes sense that you wouldn’t patch a thread bare piece of clothing with a new cloth that had not been preshrunk. And putting new wine (not finished fermenting and still off gassing) into an old wine skin that had already been stretched to it’s limits is asking for trouble.

But what is the spiritual application? And how does it relate to the scriptures around it?

In my quest for understanding, I’ve searched the writings of Luther, Wesley, Calvin, and others to no avail. It appears none of these great minds chose to untangle these verses for me.

So, prayerfully asking for the Spirit’s guidence, I once again consider what these verses are to mean to me on the spiritual level. Boiled down to their essences, they say that you can’t add new to old. “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But that can’t be right! Because that is exactly what jesus’s ministry was about, bringing a new understanding of what it means to follow God. Maybe this wasn’t as much of a defense of his disciples as it was a condemnation if the Pharisees. That they could not receive this new thought. Maybe just maybe that is why Jesus chose followers who weren’t scholars of the law. Their understanding had not already been set in stone.

Lord, let me be made new each day that my cloth and wineskin may accept your new teachings, your new Spirit without tearing or bursting. Amen.

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All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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