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Today’s Reading: Luke 5:27-39
27 After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And he left everything and rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them. 30 And thePharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?35 The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He told them a parable also: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, The old is good.’ “
not . . . to call the righteous: Jesus did not come to perpetuate Old Covenant standards of righteousness, which were designed to separate Israel from the sins and uncleanness of their Gentile neighbors (Lev 20:26). Jesus brings a new standard of righteousness that tears down the wall that barricades Israel from other nations, as he stretches the boundaries of God’s covenant family to include everyone in need of mercy, even tax collectors and sinners.
Just as new garments and wine are incompatible with old garments and wineskins, so God’s New Covenant cannot coexist with the Old.
Allegorically: the old wineskins signify the disciples, who would more easily burst than contain Jesus’ heavenly teaching. Only after Pentecost do they become new skins, enabled by the Spirit to store in themselves a greater fullness of grace and truth.