Friday, March 12, 2010
THE PARABLE OF NEW CLOTH AND NEW WINESKIN
Natalie takes a turn for the worse, shivering even though she is double-coated with thick blankets. Dr. Simon and Dr. Carl try to keep her as warm as possible as they head to the former’s office for discussion. Simon is a famous surgeon in this chic hospital, having a string of successes with high profile patients. His friend and partner Carl is concerned lately with the famous surgeon’s drinking habits. He points towards Simon's unkempt hair as they walk along the vast corridors in this posh specialist center. The large office in this famed surgeon is filled with photographs of his past credentials.
Dr. Simon’s credibility takes a dip recently when he failed to save his best friend’s younger sister, suffering from colon disorder. Last week, one more life slipped away from his care. The management has alerted Carl to talk to Simon about his frequent bout with alcohol. It is not easy for Carl being a junior and his senior being the mentor to discuss the problem.
“I think we should try a new formula with Natalie,” Carl suggests. Dr. Carl is an avid reader of medical journals and he is not afraid to try out new procedures. He too has a string of successes with his bold moves to administer different techniques and next in line to be promoted as a senior partner. Simon often finds his friend annoying and recently jealousy is added into his excuses for alcohol.
“No! Carl, I am fed up with your ‘can we do this, can we try that’ thing!” Simon raises his voice a little.
“Natalie’s case is like all others that I have done before. Is that clear, my friend?” he adds with a little sarcasm.
“But we have finished all our tricks, Simon. Is it not the time to try a different approach? I have discovered…”
“No! We just have to run a few more tests on her. Maybe I have misread the previous ones.”
“Simon, I got to be straight with you. Sometimes you think this is all about you but it’s not. We are talking about lives here!”
“How dare you talk to me like this? Do you know I have the power to lay you off this Natalie’s case from your hands?”
“Listen here, Simon. I appreciate all that you have done for me. But today you are not the same Dr. Simon that I knew. My friend, let us help you?”
“Us? You mean the management asked you to talk to me.”
“Yes. They knew about your drinking some time ago. Dr. Simon, you are indeed special to them and they are just concerned.”
“They are concerned that I will kill those patients under my care. They just don’t trust me anymore.”
“Okay. Okay. Let us talk about Natalie’s case first. I have a feeling I can do something to save her life.”
“No! I have been here for thirty years! Thirty years! I can save her! I want you to lay your hands off her for good!”
Carl shakes his head and walks off. He bangs the door so hard that Simon shakes inside him. He never sees his friend being so angry before. Tears trickle down his face as he takes a look at his shaking hands. “What is happening to me?”
Simon takes a quick walk towards Natalie’s room. He sees the skinny woman struggling to keep warm. He puts his hand on her forehead to make sure there is no fever. “I can help you, Natalie. I can,” he whispers to himself.
The next day, Carl goes into Simon’s room for another chance to convince that stubborn man. “I am sorry about last night. Let me try to save Natalie before it’s too late. The tests may have to take the whole afternoon.”
“Carl, this is important to me. I want them to know I am not a failure. I am still the surgeon they want to have,” Simon argues. “Give me another day. I am sure Natalie can pull through,” he adds with conviction.
Simon reads all the results meticulously, decides to have another operation with Natalie. He walks over to the room to give her his professional opinion and before he can reach her, he hears the beeps of death. He kneels down in front of her, sobbing.
“I am sorry, Natalie! My darling, Natalie,” he cries in desperation. He will sorely miss the smile of his beloved wife of 32 years.
The parable of the old/new cloth and old/new wineskin is found in all three gospels; Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39.
God sends Jesus to earth with a powerful mission! He wants to change the minds of people with the radical gospel of grace. To Jesus, it is an all-out assault, they either change or perish. He knows it would be difficult to change people when they are so used to the Mosaic Law mentality for more than a thousand years. This parable is shared when some people question Jesus about His disciples not fasting while John’s disciples and the Pharisees are fasting. In fact, Jesus is feasting! He does it with a purpose, of course! It is not about food or fasting but lost souls! To God, an old wineskin mindset in Jesus’ day is an upside down order. They suppose to celebrate as mighty Jesus is around but they are fasting. Instead of fasting, they (the Pharisees) celebrate when Jesus is on the cross! They are not prepared for the new thing!
In order to change from an Old Testament outlook to a New Testament perspective, Jesus requires all to prepare themselves with new wineskins. The old is not sufficient anymore! It is not enough anymore to hold the new things that are coming. The fermenting of new wine builds up pressure in fragile containers which can burst old skins. It will explode! Jesus begins a new thing not only in Israel but throughout the whole world! The Holy Spirit’s power and new anointing are coming for all people who are prepared with new wineskins! The old wineskin people will reject Jesus and what he has to offer! The old wineskin mentality will burst with misunderstanding of Jesus and the radical Gospel He came to promote! They will oppose and suppress people with the new thing!
And neither patching of a new cloth on an old garment would work. You cannot take some new things what God is doing with old mindsets. You spoil the new and ruin the old. And this parable in Luke adds a little humour to it saying that it is not fashionable. The new cannot go with the old! In this case old is not gold!
This new wineskin mentality is an ongoing process and in every generation, God is pouring out new powers for His disciples worldwide. Those who love the old wine will not change. They will die being insignificant and out of sync. But to those who are willing to change, God will cause giant waves from within them to overflow resulting in revivals and fresh awakenings!
Next: The parable of the Sower and the soils