ESV - 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, 'The old is good.'
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This illustrates the fact that the law and gospel cannot mix, that one must become a new creature to partake of the gospel, and that no man who is used to the old religion will desire the new without such change, for he is satisfied with the old. The Old Testament and the New Testament are the two oracles of God to speak to us. The New is concealed in the Old and the Old is revealed in the New. We cannot understand one without the other. But the difference between the Testaments must be clearly understood. We have the shadow in the OT but the substance in the NT (Heb 10:1). The New Covenant, unlike the Old, is not of the letter but of the Spirit (2 Cor 3:6 Rom 7:6). In the OT the Law was written in tablets of stone, but now God writes it in our hearts of flesh (Jer 31:31-33; Heb 8:8-10; 2 Cor 3:3). The ceremonial part of the Law takes a spiritual meaning in the New Testament. For example, the Sabbath speaks of the rest Christ gives to His people here and then in eternity (Mt 11:28; Heb 4:4-10). Similarly God told Peter to eat even the "forbidden" food of the OT to explain to him a spiritual truth, that is, how God can save the non-Jews also (Acts 10:10-16,44,45). The Temple in the OT becomes the people of God and their bodies in the NT. The New Covenant is called a "better" Covenant (Heb 7:22; 8:6). The core of the OT is all about what God "demands" whereas the core of the NT is all about what God "gives." Praise the Lord we are not under Law but under Grace (Rom 6:14). Let us stand firm in the liberty, and not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal 5:1). In fact, those who attempt to be justified by Law have fallen from Grace (v4). Law and Grace cannot coexist. Ishmael and Isaac cannot dwell in the same house. An old cloth and a new piece should not be stitched together. The new wine cannot be kept in old bottles (Mt 9:16,17). By saying so we do not mean that the Old Testament is irrelevant to us today. Apart from the Law the OT contains prophecy, history and wisdom. "These were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor 10:11). The OT must be read and diligently studied by every Christian, but the interpretation and application must be always in the light of the NT.
In my opinion, Jesus was figuratively comparing the rituals and works associated with the covenant of the Law initiated in the Old Testament (which the religious authorities of Jesus' day, as well as the disciples of John the Baptist, practiced, although those actions could not save them, since no one was capable of the perfect obedience that the Law commanded) with the new covenant and proclamation of the gospel of grace marked by the ministry of Jesus, who had come to fulfill the Law and make salvation possible. Jesus likened law and gospel to old wine and new wine, saying that those who preferred observance of the old, familiar provisions of the Law were uncomfortable with or were rejecting the new freedom and salvation contained in the gospel message. Those who were attached to the existing rituals and practices were slow or unable to accept the preaching of Jesus, because it was like trying to put new wine into old wineskins. But Jesus' disciples, who did not have a predisposition against Jesus' new teaching, were receptive to His message.
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