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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

Reflective Bible Study.


New Solutions to Old Problems: Luke 5:33-39

Focus Passage: Luke 5:33-39 (GW)

While Jesus was a master storyteller and illustrator, everything He shared that the gospel writers include contains spiritual truth that we can learn from. Often times, the spiritual meaning is given in the context of the illustration, but other times, the spiritual meaning is not included. Perhaps the gospel writer believed the spiritual truth to be obvious to the reader, or maybe the writer didn’t understand the truth himself. Maybe there were multiple truths present and the gospel writer didn’t want to exclude a truth by sharing only his thoughts.

Early on in Luke’s gospel, he records a miscellaneous set of Jesus’ illustrations without giving much in the way of context. Luke tells us that Jesus used the following illustrations: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new coat to patch an old coat. Otherwise, the new cloth will tear the old. Besides, the patch from the new will not match the old. People don’t pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the new wine will make the skins burst. The wine will run out, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine is to be poured into fresh skins. No one who has been drinking old wine wants new wine. He says, ‘The old wine is better!’” (v. 36-39)

Luke doesn’t share context for these illustrations, and because of this, we are left looking at the other gospel writers to give us clues into Jesus’ words. Mark and Matthew don’t share much additional context except that Jesus shared these thoughts while talking about fasting and how His followers wouldn’t fast while He was with them.

This leaves us to wonder if the spiritual truth Jesus is sharing in these illustrations only relates to fasting, or if it is a broader truth or principle. From the way that all three gospels share these illustrations, I’m prompted to believe that Jesus is sharing a broader principle.

Understanding that Jesus is sharing a broader principle, if we take these illustrations and look for an overall theme in them, we come across the principle that old solutions don’t always help new problems. It is the same way in reverse: New solutions don’t always help old problems either.

This principle is equally powerful and relevant in our physical lives as it is in our spiritual lives. While sometimes new information can help us better understand solutions that have worked in the past, not many principles of life remain unsolved. While hundreds of new diets appear each year offering to help people with their weight, the old solution of fresh air, exercise, moderation, and eating fresher foods is the most effective way to help people shave off pounds and keep them off for life. This is an old problem and it is an old solution.

A new problem might be how to fix a bug in a piece of software in a modern programming language. While old principles can help direct one to an answer, the solution to this problem cannot help but be new because it hasn’t been seen before. Fifty years ago, people didn’t have programming challenges in the same way that we do today.

Some people fixate themselves on only using old methods and ways, and this cripples them from moving forward in life. Others purposely ignore the old and bounce from the newest thing to the next newest thing, and they cannot get traction because their lives look like a ball in a pinball machine. Both types of people miss out on what the other group knows and can teach them.

When I read these illustrations, I cannot help but see the principle that our solutions must match our problems. Old solutions don’t always help new problems, while new solutions rarely fix old problems either. Only by staying open to both the old and the new can I hope to gain lasting traction when growing with God and moving forward in life.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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