Mt9 14-17 - The New Will Not Fit In the Old
NIV Commentary lists these verses as “Breaking the mold.” I’d previously focused on the idea of Matthew (Levi) just up and leaving his “post” when Jesus came calling and how amazing that is given how we humans are such materialists. But I see that there’s more here than Matthew’s calling. Jesus, by his lived example, is showing how his way of dealing with this world is so much different. He chooses the more difficult “costly” love instead of resting on ritual or, in this case, isolation from the “polluting” world around us. Jesus is not about ostentatious piety but about sharing his Father’s message of the kingdom and love.
The thing about the wineskins at first seem incongruous with the rest of the passage. But what it comes down to is that the whole business of him “associating” with sinners (eg., having dinner with a bunch of tax-collectors) and not fasting (or at least not fasting in a way that is obvious to those around them, Matt 6: 16-17) is part of how things are different with Jesus versus the traditional piety that the religious leaders have created over the centuries. What Jesus offers cannot be contained in the old traditions any more than one can put new wine in old wine skins and expect anything other than a disasterous outcome. The inside of ones faith has changed and thus the outside will also show signs of change. What he is offering, what he has to offer can’t be clothed in the piety or practices of the past. JBB 05/11/2004