Lenten Devotional: March 5

Psalm 63:1-11; Psalm 98; Psalm 103; Deuteronomy 8:1-10; 1 Corinthians 1:17-31; Mark 2:18-22

“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:22

Picking grain on the Sabbath for heaven’s sake; forgiving sins; healing sick on the Sabbath; hanging around with people of questionable reputations, and acting with seeming disregard for the Law’s traditional strong prohibitions. The rigidly pious Pharisees or Sadducees see Jesus a threat to their leadership. Blasphemy!

Although we have no experience (I don’t think) in storing wine in wineskins, old or new, we can understand that Jesus calls us to follow in a new direction, to live according to the first two commandments: love God and love others as ourselves. Jesus has given the Law a radical new inner direction, how positive and simple! But how challenging in its simplicity!

If you’re like me, you’ve often been in a difficult situation in a work or social setting. You’ve struggled to find your way through it. You’ve wrestled with it, prayed about it, consulted with friends about it, searching for an answer, but no way seems entirely right. Every direction had its negative aspect.

The struggle takes its toll. Wouldn’t it be temptingly easier if there were a clearly stated, specifically defined, black and white rule to follow in each such difficult, multi-dimensional situation. “God says just do such and such”. No more moral struggling. No more feeling guilty, second-guessing your decision, hurting feelings, embarrassing. When I find myself wishing for such a simplistic way, I remember the legalistic piety of the Pharisees and Sadducees, or even some contemporary Christians – and I pray some more!