Mark 2 v 21 - 22

One of the dangers of studying only a couple of verses as we are today is that they can so easily be taken out of context. These are the words of Jesus commenting about the questions of John the Baptist's disciples and Mark leads us straight from this to the episode where the Pharisees criticise the disciples for breaking one of the oral laws concerning the sabbath- verses 23-28, which we will look at tomorrow.

Jesus knew well that He was coming with a message which was shockingly new and that it would be difficult for human minds to accept and embrace the new truths He was bringing. Remember that every Jew would have known the Old Testament well and sought to observe it or at least the feast and fast days and the general worship and obedience to YHWH (Jehovah). Jesus uses two illustrations, fabulous everyday examples, to demonstrate how preconceptions had to change. He speaks here about the danger of sewing a new patch on an old garment: as the new patch has never experienced the shrinkage which an old garment would have, the new patch would shrink in the first rain and tear away from the old garment. The day of patching for that garment was over and a completely new garment was needed- ''You must be born again!'' Jesus declared to the Pharisee, Nicodemus. Are we attempting to patch over in our own life or in the life of Bearfield when what is needed is a complete abandonment of the past and the acceptance of something completely new?

The second illustration Jesus uses is that of wine, which was kept in wine skins in those days. When the skin was new, it would have a degree of elasticity, but when they became old they became hard and unyielding. When new wine is poured into skins it is still fermenting and these gases cause pressure. If it is a new skin, it will expand, but if old it could explode, meaning the loss of the wine. As Christians, we must remain young in our thinking. I've known very elderly people who are still childlike in their ready acceptance of the new and I've known people younger than myself intolerant and bigoted, set in their ways. A wise man once said: ''When you reach a conclusion you're dead!'' A great Biblical example of a person who continued to grow throughout their life was Jacob, who we are told that, when extremely elderly and just before his death 'bowed in worship over the top of his staff' (Hebrews 11 v 21). He was continuing to walk with God!

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