New Wine

Daily Reform, Mark 2:1-12

About the Reformer

…the relevancy of these metaphors [old cloth and old bottles] being admitted in general terms, it may be denied that a new wine (to borrow the form of expression from the second, more suggestive metaphor) has come into existence. This was virtually the attitude assumed by the Pharisees towards Christ. “What have you brought?” they asked Him in effect, “to your disciples, that they cannot live as others do, but must needs invent new religious habits for themselves? This new life of which you boast is either a vain pretence, or an illegitimate, spurious thing, not worthy of toleration, and the waste of which would be no matter for regret.” Similar was the attitude assumed towards Luther by the opponents of the Reformation. They said to him in effect: “If this new revelation of yours, that sinners are justified by faith alone, were true, we admit that it would involve very considerable modification in religious opinion, and many alterations in religious practice. But we deny the truth of your doctrine, we regard the peace and comfort you find in it as a hallucination; and therefore we insist that you return to the time-honored faith, and then you will have no difficulty in acquiescing in the long-established practice.” The same thing happens to a greater or less extent every generation; for new wine is always in course of being produced by the eternal vine of truth, demanding in some particulars of belief and practice new bottles for its preservation, and receiving for answer an order to be content with the old ones.

—A. B. Bruce, Training of the Twelve

Pulling It Together

Can you give me a few dollars for some food? The pastor wondered how many times he had heard that question. He engaged the person by asking, What church do you go to? Once again, the response was that the person did not go to church. Having heard similar replies so many times, this did not surprise the pastor but it still intrigued him. Why was it so easy for some people to believe that they could receive money from a church by doing nothing—but believe that justification with God requires work? Hundreds of people had requested money from the pastor and he was convinced that most of them were not going to spend it on food. Yet when he offered them the new wine of Christ’s forgiveness that was found freely at his services each week, they frowned (or even cursed) and walked away. Some had even told him that they were not good enough to come to church.

Would that people would break down the doors and tear through the roofs. Would that they would come to the Presence of grace, and drink. Jesus still does that most difficult deed: he forgives today. Come. Drink.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers



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