Jesus uses this metaphor in the middle of Mark chapter 2. I honestly never really understood it until a few days ago.
In a discussion with a friend I argued that Jesus often breaks the Mosaic law to prove a point. Like most Christians upon hearing such a claim, my friend quoted Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, “I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.”
Immediately I thought that it was a stupid argument because in Mark 2 alone Jesus and his disciples break at LEAST four Mosaic laws… (claiming to be God, communing with sinners, disregarding the fasting laws, and working on the Sabbath).
However, I stand corrected, because Jesus did not come to abolish or even break the Mosaic law… he came to burst it open and expose its blood and guts!
Jesus came to ‘fulfill’ the law… to fill it to its fullest.
I like to think of the Mosaic law as the bottle in which God fed an infant humanity. We were force-fed one way to live life. Compare it to the way we force-feed babies one kind of food. It sounds bad, but really infants shouldn’t be exposed to much else besides water and milk, but as they grow other drinks become more accessible and more enjoyable.
The same can be said of how we relate to God.
As we grow and experience more things we become better acquainted to who God is, what God wants, and how we are supposed to interact with him.
Jesus (the physical representation of God) fills the Mosaic law so full that it ends up breaking itself trying to contain him.
Jesus is the new wine that is bursting the old wine skins open.
While this may seem scary or counterproductive to the covenant Abraham made with God, it does allow for greater freedom for the expression of love to both God and to other people (the blood and guts of the law).
- If we aren’t required to pray a certain way, then we may express ourselves more honestly
- If we aren’t required to Sabbath a certain day, our rest habits may serve our life schedule more appropriately/productively
- If we aren’t required to kill adulterers, there is more freedom to extend forgiveness
- If we aren’t required to pay our tithe to a corrupt Church, our funds may better serve the needy
- When women are allowed to be in leadership, our Churches are filled with a more diverse and representative voice
- When we are allowed to commune with those unlike us, we evangelize wordlessly and without confrontation
When the old wine skins are ‘burst’ in this manner, God’s love is able to be experienced on a whole new level by all sorts of new people.
This video is a good visual representation. Notice how the pieces of the balloon burst everywhere leaving just the water… like the love of God. Acting as a “flood” like the man says. Floods are scary, but they also fertilize dry and barren land. Let’s not be scared of living lives that ‘burst’ the law open.