September 9, 2020

Matthew 5
The New Law vv. 17-20 (Part 1)

Later in his writing about Jesus, Matthew (9:17) recalls Jesus saying, “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Radical leaders often use this saying as a rationale for destroying all vestiges of a former era. They see their scorched-earth privy as the only way to effecting change. And, many of these revolutionaries have seen their actions as divinely ordained.

Jesus would vilify such superficial and destructive zeal as much as he criticized the intransigence of the established old order of pharisaic righteousness. Both radical and reactionary are guilty of blindness. The issue ultimately is not old versus new. Rather it is the new growing out of the old. New branches from old roots producing new fruit.

New wine never comes from new vines. I quote an article entitled, “When it come to grape vines, old is gold (The Globe and Mail, April 03, 2012):
Old vines yield more concentrated fruit, resulting in richer wines with more sumptuous balance. [Age] can mean 30 years. In Australia, California, and Spain, the cutoff is more like 50 or 60… a few California producers, with vineyards planted 80-100 years ago, have adopted the designation ‘ancient vines’…the oldest dating back more than 150 years.

Every spring we see the principle of new growing from old born out in the budding of trees and plants that have been dormant throughout winter. It’s always a wonder. Miraculous even. In every way those youthfully green new leaves are the “fulfillment” of the old root system which has not only stood the test of time but feeds it in the present. And, ironically, it’s these new leaves that enable the photosynthesis giving ongoing life to the old roots. You can’t have one without the other.