God’s Word for You – Luke 5:39 Is the old always better?
GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
39 And no one who is drinking old wine wants new, because he says, ‘The old is fine.’”
There are a couple of different words in Greek for “new.” They’re both back in verse 38: neos (νέος) meaning new in age, and kainos (καινός) meaning a better quality, or “fresh.” Here, Jesus calls the new wine neos, and in doing so he draws our attention to what is considered “old.” Old wine isn’t necessarily better. It’s true that some wine can get better with age, and when this happens, it’s excellent. However, a poorly made or a poorly stored wine, or one that’s been subject to stress (heat, cold, etc.) can get bad and even sour. In that case, drinking an older wine just because it’s old is a poor choice when there’s a newer, sweeter wine available.
The meaning of this little parable is that people have a hard time making a change, and this is just as true of maturing from Judaism to Christianity as it is to get out of the habit of preferring old for the sake of it being old in favor of something new.
Jesus is being patient with the Pharisees and the disciples of John; he isn’t excusing them. He knows—his omniscience includes even this—that most people don’t like change. But this change, abandoning the old to embrace the new, would be the best thing that ever happened to them.
It’s a strange teaching! It’s a very different way of living! Their point of view had been wrong, and it’s always hard to admit that you’re wrong. Their opinion of the old covenant was that it was all about obedience to achieve righteousness. But that was a Pharisee’s point of view; not a biblical point of view. The old covenant was all about righteousness given by the grace of God, emphasized by the impossibility of achieving it through obedience. God had said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). Righteousness was not earned by Abraham; it was credited to him because of his faith (Genesis 15:6). This fact was embraced throughout the Old Testament, even to the point of being quoted in the Psalms (Psalm 106:31) and prophets (Ezekiel 18:20). It was always God’s plan. It was what God promised.
By the grace of God, we live by the promise. What God promised through Christ has been fulfilled. The old has been proven to be useless and spoiled; the new is sweet and delightful, and is ours forever.
Pastor Timothy Smith
Archives by Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel: http://www.wlchapel.org/worship/daily-devotion/
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota
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