Here is the link to Today’s reading: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=323352590
New Wine into Old Wineskins 5:36-39
This is our first official parable in the Gospel of Luke. (if you do not count the last passage describing waiting for the bridegroom as a parable)
Maybe what this text is illustrating is clearer to those of you who sew, but the modern ear might not understand the wineskins reference. So for those who are a little unclear of what this parable is most likely referring to (like me) here is what I found:
New cloth has not shrunk yet, which it is known to do. If you take new cloth and try to patch up something significant on old cloth, as the patch of new cloth shrinks, there is a chance it will tear what was being mended.
The other way to look at this, and maybe more appropriate to those in Jesus’ day, when they didn’t have dryers. New Cloth was just more valuable than old cloth, and cutting it into something small to fix something old is a waste of that cloth, it should be used for new garments, not old ones.
The wine skins is apparently a little more specific. Wineskins, which made of animal hides, would stretch over time, and weaken. This is because, apparently, as wine ages, it expands some. This expanding of the wine (which i have been led to believe is the result of released gases) expands more when it is new, and slows down as it ages. In many respects, a wineskin ages with the wine, as they both expand. If one was to put new wine (wine that will expand/release gases) into an already stretched out and weakened old wineskin, then chances are the old wineskin would burst.
As with most parables, this has been pretty controversial as to what it is suppose to mean. Parables are not direct allegories though (like fairy tales with a very specific implied meaning), and are meant to be discussion starters as opposed to definitive statements.
A common interpretation of this text is that Jesus is doing something new, and that this new religious movement should be completely separate from any reference to Judaism. Some early theologians didn’t want the Old Testament included in the Christian Scriptures for this very reason.
But Jesus tells his followers pretty definitively in a few places that he did not come to replace the Law, but rather to fulfill it, and also was well known for quoting old testament scripture. The larger scope of the gospels seems to suggest that Jesus was not interested in ridding the movement he was starting from Judaism.
Lets not forget that Jesus is also praising aged wine in this passage as well (for those of you who are not wine drinkers, wine does get quite a bit better with age — to a point)
- So what do you think Jesus is saying with this parable?
- What specifically might be the new fabric vs the old, or the new wine/wineskins vs the old?
- In trying to understand the parable, what represents the church, what represents Jesus, what represents you? (the you questions can certainly change over time!)
Lord of the Sabbath 6:1-5
I have always read this passage as pretty straight forward, the Law is great, except for when it gets in the way of life. It reminds me of another quote, i don’t know who said it, but it is: “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education”. Schooling is certainly important, but as someone who has a learning disability, and worked with special needs students, it can, once in a while, fall short on fully educating someone.
This is s tough one to get one’s head around though, because there are certainly things one can do to extend life that are wholly immoral. So where does one draw the line with Jesus’ suggestions on this? Taking bread when someone is starving seems more than acceptable, but what about killing someone to protect one’s own life? Its a complicated ethical structure, and certainly more difficult than following the law strictly, who gets to decide? Although Jesus has not yet brought it up, I feel like this is a great precursor to the conversation about the most important of the Laws.
- How does this passage influence the way you approach laws and rules?
- Where might you be like the pharisee around someone who looks like they are breaking important rules.
Man With Withered Hand 6:6-11
This acts as a companion piece to the previous passage, and it seems to push a little bit further than the previous passage regarding the role of the Law. Healing this man’s hand is not something that had to happen in that moment (like eating when really really hungry), it could have waiting until after the sabbath.
- what is this passage trying to teach? Is is trying to cancel out particular laws? Is he just trying to upset the Pharisees? Or could it be saying that healing is not work?
- Just because jesus may go against the “law” in these instances, it doesn’t mean the keeping the Sabbath as Holy isn’t important. How do you keep Sabbath?
Commissioning of the twelve Apostles 6:12-16
After much prayer and meditation, Jesus picks the 12 disciples, and Luke names them, certainly in an effort to be accurate and precise.
- what is there to learn from this passage about selecting leaders in the church?
- Why do you think Jesus went off by himself to pray so much (this is the third of fourth time in as many chapters)?