Our lives are beyond patching up, and the only solution is for Jesus to give us a radically new one.
He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.
We’ve all heard the cute stories of a child who, over-simplistically, tries to fix something. There’s the one about the kid who drops a china plate and then tries to sticky-tape the pieces back together. Or the one about the child who draws on the living room walls with permanent marker, and tries to rub it out with a pencil eraser. There’s also the story of the kid who hears that one of the parents smashed up the car, and offers their few dollars of pocket money to help get it fixed.
These stories are endearing because, in their inexperience, the little ones don’t understand the futility of their attempted solutions. They are trying to solve the problem the only way they know how. It’s touching – but ultimately useless. What is needed is someone with bigger and better resources to buy a new dinner set, repaint the walls, or negotiate with insurance to get a new vehicle. Sometimes a thing is so broken that it just can’t be fixed, and any attempted patching is useless. The only solution is to replace it entirely with something new and better.
In the parable that Luke recounts here, Jesus tells us that this is how human lives work as well. Jesus was a huge change for the Israelites, as he overturned the way that people connected with God – how they could really connect with God. Jesus didn’t offer them, and doesn’t offer us, a refreshed version of the same old life. Following Jesus means a complete change of life. We don’t just do things the old way, with a bit of Jesus tacked on, like sticky tape or a patch of new cloth.
Just like the little kids who want to fix their mistakes in the easiest possible way, it can be easy for us to try to live our old lives with a little bit of Jesus stuck on top. We think we can live how we want, as long as we go to church or pray at least once a week. But Jesus tells us the old and the new don’t work together. If we keep elements of the old life – parts of life that don’t bow the knee to Jesus – we corrupt the new life. The old and the new cloth don’t work together, just like Jesus said. It’s one or the other, because the change we are called to make is huge. We are to completely throw away our old selves, pick up our crosses and follow Jesus.
Head: What kinds of things – attitudes, actions, desires – in a person’s life would show whether they see Jesus as a patch-up job, or the source of a whole new life? What do these areas look like for you?
Heart: Do you feel daunted by giving up your old life and living for Jesus alone? Do you think it would be easier to stick the messy pieces of our lives back together with our own sticky tape, or a “Jesus band-aid”, than to have to live a new life with Jesus? Why?
Hands: What can you do this week to show someone that Jesus represents a whole new life? Could you display an act of kindness, or of love, or of asking for forgiveness, that goes beyond the old-life way of doing things?
Prayer: Our Father, thank you that your solution isn’t just to sticky-tape the broken plate of our lives. Thank you for instead giving us something new, wonderful and enduring. Please help us to live the new life and new relationship that you have given us, instead of turning back to the old. Amen.
A song to listen to: This Life I Live
Geoff Pryde and Maddie Pryde