“God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.”
– C.S. Lewis
Have you ever changed your belief about something?
There was something you used to believe in. Think of that moment where someone presented you with a new way of thinking or a new way of living. They spoke with such passion and such authority that you rethought your belief.
I am reminded of a scene from Friends. Ross and Pheobe are discussing evolution. Rose becomes more and more irate as Pheobe challenges his belief in evolution.
Pheobe is hilarious as she slowly makes Ross cave. But, have we had moments like this? Or are we currently experiencing moments like this?
The Jewish people and the Religious leaders experienced something new that began to change their whole belief system.
A Demon exposed
Mark 1:21-28 is a fascinating story. I used to read this thinking it was an odd story about Jesus cleansing a man of a demon. However, look closer.
Mark 1:21-22 tells us that Jesus began to teach in a synagogue. Astonished, the people marveled at his teachings. Why? He was teaching with such authority that it rivaled the teachings of the religious leaders.
Then, the story takes a turn. As if out of nowhere, a man with a demon cries out and disrupts Jesus (Mark 1:23). Jesus commands the demon to come out of the man. In a dramatic exit, the man is freed. This causes the people to spread the news saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! (Mark 1:27)”
What caused the demon to lash out? It was when Jesus began teaching something new with great authority that rivaled the religious leaders. The demon didn’t want this new teaching exposing the old teaching that oppressed many of the people.
This new teaching with authority changed many people. In fact, Luke 5:1, tells us that the people came to him to hear him teach God’s Word. But weren’t the religious leaders teaching God’s Word? They were teaching the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Isn’t that God’s Word too? Yes, it is! But, it is in the way each party was handling God’s Word.
WHAT ISN’T LIKE THE OTHER?
Remember in elementary school when you had to pick out the item that didn’t match the rest of the group? Jesus talks about a match that isn’t the same and has disastrous results.
Jesus gives a parable in Luke 5:36-39. He talks about garments, patches, wine, and wineskins. He starts off by giving the illustration of a torn, old garment in need of repair. However, no one would take a patch off of a new garment to fix the old. First, that will destroy the new garment. Second, the patch would not match the old garment. Therefore, both the new and old garment are ruined.
The second illustration is of wine. Yes, Jesus talks about wine. No, it wasn’t just “grape juice.” He says that no one will put a newly made wine into an old wineskin. Why? Because the new wine is fermenting and will expand. This will cause the old wineskin to burst. Thus, the wine and the wineskin are ruined. New wine must be contained in a new wineskin. Then Jesus makes this remark, “And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, ‘The old is better.'”
Jesus introduces that there is something new and something old. The new doesn’t match the old, can’t fix the old, bursts through the old, needs a new place to reside, and is better than the old. What could he be referring to?
The new is the New Covenant Jesus establishes. It results in a new way of living, a new way of relating to the Father, and in need of a new place to reside – our heart. The old is the Old Covenant. It did it’s job (it wasn’t wrong or sinful). However, it is old (like the garment). It will not be able to contain this newness Jesus brings. It doesn’t match the new, and it is not better than the new.
When it comes to what Jesus establishes in the New Testament, it does not match the old. This is completely new!
The Old and new clashing
Was everyone excited about this new teaching? No. The religious leaders were not happy with Jesus at all. Mark 11:18 tells us the religious leaders wanted to find a way to kill Jesus, because of what Jesus taught and how the crowd responded.
The religious leaders were losing their power over the people. They did not want to submit to this new teaching. Submitting would mean giving up their old way (and their power over people) to allow Jesus’ new teaching to change people and give life. They relied on rules and rituals to relate to God. Jesus brought love and a relationship as the way to relate to God. The religious leaders brought sacrifices and traditions to appease God. Jesus brought himself and showed people that faith is what pleases God.
The old and the new do not mix. The clash was so strong, the religious leaders looked for ways to kill Jesus. If this new teaching didn’t have divine authority behind it, then there wouldn’t be such a drastic measure taken against Jesus. However, since the religious leaders were losing their power over the people, Jesus and his teaching had to go.
Suspicious of the new
How many of us have a similar mindset to something new? How many of us have a hidden religious leader in us?
We hear things that are new, and we immediately react and shut that person down.
But, what is the proper response? Acts 17:1 says the Berean church studied the Scriptures to see what was being said is true or not. We need to do the same. Instead, of shutting people down. We need to search the Scriptures.
But, how are we to do that? II Timothy 2:15 teaches us to teach the word correctly (rightly dividing the word of truth – as in KJV). What does this mean? So many of us fight over passages and meanings. I believe a lot of these fights come from putting the cart before the horse.
Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us God spoke to us in the old times through the prophets, but now he speaks to us through Jesus, his son. This verse should give us a clue. Everything in Scripture points to Jesus. Therefore, we need to interpret everything through Jesus. A lot of us interpret Jesus by Paul or Peter. But, we really need to interpret Paul by Jesus. I am not saying these men were not inspired by God, but we need to hold up our interpretation of Paul, John, Peter, etc. by the teachings of Jesus.
This is how we do not become suspicious of the new and slip back into an old covenant mindset. If we truly believe Jesus is the Son of God and his teaching has divine authority, then we need to treat the whole of Scripture as running through the filter of Jesus’ new teachings.
Embracing the new
It is so easy to sit in what we have been taught for so long. We listen without question. We do what we are told. However, that one person says something new, and we immediately try to shut them down.
We are so scared of the new that we become modern religious leaders.
Have we checked how things hold up against the teachings of Jesus (our divine measuring rod)?
Jesus told us that his new will not match the old, that it is better than the old, and that it takes a whole new vessel to contain it. Therefore, let’s embrace his new and see where it leads. According to Jesus, it leads to life abundantly (John 10:10).
Are you ready to receive the new wine Jesus gives? You need to be like a new wineskin ready to expand. An old one is stiff and will burst. His new leads to life…. are you ready for that?
One thought on “Scared Of The New?”
Excellent commentary and scripture search! And a great quote from C. S. Lewis to headline your post. As an Orthodox priest of 36 years I am challenged by many of the words you write. Authority is hard for a church such as mine to understand as scriptural truth rather than the hierarchical thing that it became in our 2,000-year evolution. (I love Phoebe’s demolition of Ross. Though of course I mostly agree with Ross, his doctrinaire feathers needed clipping, and Phoebe did it.)