2012-01-06 - Old Rags and New Robes
Part 1 ~ Based on a Sermon Originally Preached 2009-01-11
If some sermons were for sale, they should be labeled "Dry Goods". Hopefully this one won't be such a sermon. Let's look at a short parable found in Luke
Luke 5:36 (NIV) He told them this parable: "No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.
As with many other parables this has different levels of meanings for its immediate audience and its universal audience.
We will begin by examining the immediate interpretation. Jesus was in the midst of controversy. In Luke 5:17-26, Jesus is forgiving sins. The Pharisees are asking, "Who do you think you are?" They missed the point of the miracle seeing God's credentials. In Luke 5:27-32, Jesus is reaching sinners. The Pharisees are asking, "Don't you know who they are?" They have missed the point of evangelism seeing human potential. Then in Luke 5:33-39, Jesus is not following tradition. The Pharisees are asking, "Don't you know the rules? " They have missed the point of holiness seeing God's essentials.
Ambrose, in Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 5:23, says 'Fasting represents the old garment that the apostle [Paul] thought should be taken off. He said, "Strip yourselves of the old man with his deeds", so that we may put on the new man, which is renewed by the sanctification of baptism.' (See Col 3:2-9.) God wanted to replace a robe of rules with a robe of grace.
Next let's consider the universal application. God doesn't want to patch us up but renew us. He wants to take away the rags we have been wearing and give us a robe he made for us. A pauper was given fancy clothes by a king but never wore them. He was very proud of them but never wore them. His old ones wore out and almost fell apart. Even though he could not afford another set of clothes he wore just the rags because he was afraid he'd mess up the good set. When he died, the king heard of it and came to his funeral. There the king sees him in the old and asks some of his family and friends about the new. They all told the king that the pauper loved the clothes and was afraid to mess them up so he kept them on a shelf. We need to get rid of our old clothes and wear what was given to us by the king.
Cloth speaks of spiritual wholeness and wine speaks of spiritual fullness. We must be whole before we can be filled. Clothes affect us externally and wine affects us internally because he wants to change us completely inside and out.
As an illustration, I asked if anyone was wearing a new outfit? One of the deacons said he was and I invited him up on stage. I pulled out an old shirt that I've had since the 8th grade way back in 1984. The t-shirt had a fade picture of the King of Kings. I showed it off and explained how much I loved that shirt but pointed out that it was getting a few small holes. I asked the deacon, "Can I cut a little out of your outfit to patch mine?" Sadly he called me on the bluff and said yes so I remarked that only a crazy person would think that was a good idea and sent him off stage. I'd be crazy to patch a hole in it with part of a new shirt. I'd just have two ruined shirts.
New can't be attached to old. With patches three things will happen:
For some reason I thought of it also in music terms. This might be like trying to fit a new CD into an old cassette player. I can imagine some older people trying to do that or maybe putting the CD on an record player. But it won't work. It don't fit. Forcing it will break the CD. And forcing it will tear up the cassette player. Neither will be worth a cuss. Use cassette player for its purpose and retire it when it is no longer useful and get a CD player for the CDs.
Until next time...
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted.