My littlest son, Ethan, decided to bind my wounds a while back. He had been gifted a doctors kit and wanted to put it to use. I was his patient.
Initially, things went along just like you'd expect in a real doctor's office. My blood pressure and temperature were measured and all my shots were issued. I was beginning to relax at the hands of this skilled medical professional.
But this feeling of security was to be short-lived. Without warning, a toothbrush was crammed into my mouth! I quickly wondered where this foreign object had come from. It was not a part of the doctors kit! I did what any of us would have done in that moment and stopped the proceedings with a sense of urgency!
Ethan had broken protocol! He had failed to act according to my expectations. He had challenged the status quo and I had reacted like most would. My security had been threatened!
Something similar happens with Jesus. As Mark records the life of Jesus, a rising tension emerges. Jesus is breaking custom everywhere! The leaders of the Jews felt Jesus should have been fasting instead of partying with sinners. He should have been in Jerusalem instead of Galilee. He should have been ruling instead of preaching. He should have followed the religious code of conduct. And the result of broken expectations was their verdict: Jesus could not be their Messiah!
In the midst of this conflict, Jesus offers a parable. There are only four parables in Mark's account.
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
It is here that Jesus enunciates His end game. He was not bringing reformation. Jesus was bringing something brand new! And His point was shockingly clear. The religious leaders were a pre-existing structure that needed to change. They were part of the system that Jesus compared to an old worn out garment!
Jesus' point? If you don't leave the old you can't have the new!
What happens when Jesus' life and teaching contradicts our culture or traditions? What do we do? Will we walk with Jesus, join Him in His ministry and challenge the prevailing assumptions? Or will we cave under the pressure of societal and religious protocol?
There is another story told in the same context. It's a story about a man needing healing. Unfortunately it was on the Sabbath. Jesus decides to declare war in this moment and asks the man to extend his hand for healing. The irony is the Pharisees are standing there watching. To obey Jesus in this moment would invite open shame. He would be ostracized and kicked out of the synagogue. To obey Jesus was to break the religious customs long embedded in the Jewish community.
He chose to obey despite the threat. His hand was healed.
I'm more and more convinced that part of our journey as believers is to chase new wine--to go where this fermenting Savior takes us regardless of the cultural norms. Our goal at Alaska Bible College is not, ultimately, to fill your head with knowledge. Rather, we want to fill your senses with Jesus--the real Jesus of the Bible. He is a counter-cultural Savior. He brings something brand new with Him. And we hope you will be so overwhelmed with His new wine, that you will lose your life over it!
Let's agree to follow Jesus' prescription! Only then can He bind our wounds.
Jonathan L Garland, VPSD
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