New Wine and New Bottles
All is new in Christianity. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Our Lord shows that that which He was introducing was all new. It would be useless to put new wine into old leathern bottles. The bottles would burst and the wine would be spilled and all would be lost. The new wine of Christianity needed new bottles (see Luke 5:37-38). A new power in a new being was called for.
In John 20 we find this illustrated for we are brought into a scene where everything is fresh. The storm of Calvary is over and the calm of communion with His own is now to be enjoyed. It is “the first day of the week” (v. 1) and this is emphasized in verse 19, “Then the same day at evening being the first day of the week.”
A NEW DAY
has dawned. A day of which the sun shall never go down. The Sabbath—the seventh day—had been passed by the Son of God in the tomb. The rest-day of the first creation was broken. It needed that God should work. He could not rest in the presence of sin and sorrow and suffering which sin had entailed. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work;” the Lord had said. He was here to work not to rest. But now the work of atonement had been accomplished. The triumphant cry “It is finished” had been heard at Calvary and the Son of God had come forth in resurrection victory. It is a “first day” beyond death, beyond judgment, beyond cloud and darkness. This is the Christian day; the Lord’s day of Revelation 1:10. So we find later that it was the first day of the week on which the disciples came together to break bread (Acts 20:7) celebrating His victory and remembering Him, who won it at such infinite cost to Himself.
A NEW COMPANY
is seen. The Lord had come as the long promised Messiah to Israel and had been rejected. From the outset of this Gospel of John we find this refusal presented. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power, right or privilege to become [to take their place as] the sons of God.” To these the Lord sends the message by Mary Magdalene, “Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God and your God.” He speaks from the height of the place He has won for them. He terms them His brethren. They are now regarded in spiritual association with Himself. That is their new standing. He has gained them for His companions. They are His. And He rejoices in being “Firstborn among many brethren.”
A NEW RELATIONSHIP
is theirs. “My Father and your Father.” Nearly a hundred and twenty times the Father’s name is mentioned in this Gospel before this occasion. It had been made known, as to the sound of it, many a time. He had spoken of the Father; and of how He, the Son had come to reveal Him. He had prayed in the hearing of His disciples saying “Father,” “Holy Father,” “Righteous Father.” Now in resurrection for the first time He says “My Father and your Father, My God and your God.”
He was able to bring them into His own joys and delights before the Father’s face. He had been in that circle of sunshine alone. But He had died for them and was risen. The solitary corn of wheat bore much fruit, many grains. They could share with Him now all that His love could share with them. And this in perfect righteousness, “My God and your God.” Every claim of the throne of God had been met, their sins were cleansed, and all that they were as sinners had been dealt with in judgment. They were cleared from every charge which could ever be raised against them and now could be before God enjoying the new relationship with His Father.
The disciples who had been scattered to their own homes had come together, gathered probably by the wonderful message carried by Mary Magdalene.
And into their midst, when gathered, the Son of God Himself enters, saying “Peace unto you.” And having said this, He showed them His hands and His side.
A NEW REST
was to be theirs. A rest built upon His accomplished work, His completed sacrifice. The sacrifices under the law had not given pleasure to God, nor cleared the consciences of those who had brought them. Their value had been as shadows only of the good things to come. They had pointed on to Calvary as signposts point the pathway to a city. Thus it was they brought about the remembrance of sins and did not avail for the remission of sins. Christ’s one offering, offered once for all, perfects the conscience for ever. It can never be repeated. It is all-sufficient and sufficient for all. Peace, perfect and permanent is ours.
There is no more remembrance of sins on God’s part and no more conscience of sins on part of the one who believes the glorious gospel. He has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Gladness filled the hearts of the disciples as they saw the Lord.
Again the “peace be unto you” was spoken and the Lord added “As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”
A NEW MISSION
was theirs. He, the Sent One of the Father, now sends them as He had been sent. They were to be here in the world for Him as He had been here for the Father. And here not to improve the world but to gather out of it those who were given by the Father to the Son. Here they were to represent Him and bear witness to Him who had been rejected and refused by the world into which they were to go. This was firstly true of the apostles, but in measure it is true of all believers. It was theirs and it is ours to be here on the part of the Son of God; to live or to die in His interests. Alas! that this is so little responded to by His own. How many there are who “seek their own and not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” even as there were in the Apostle Paul’s day. They receive blessing at His hands and are glad of pardon and peace. But they fail to recognize that their privilege is to be Christ’s representatives on earth.
Not in any power of their own or as though they were sent at their own charges were the disciples to go forth, for we read, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”
A NEW POWER
was to endue them and to give them competency for their new service.
He turns their thoughts away from their own resources, to the might of the Holy Spirit, who was to be sent by Him from the Father as He had promised before.
It was in this power at Pentecost that the Apostles preached and by which three thousand were converted. And this same power abides. The Holy Spirit has not been taken away. He remaineth with the saints for ever. And His strength is as available for us to enable us to glorify Christ as it was for the disciples then. “That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost,” is the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy and we, walking in the Spirit, not grieving Him, may keep that which is given to us and be here for Christ’s glory till He returns.
All this and more is seen to be new in this chapter. May we be found in the joy of it all, and answering to it, until we are with Himself in the glory which His presence has opened for us in the Father’s house. This as declared by the Lord Jesus, in John 14:1-3, is the
in Christianity. Not earthly blessing, in Palestine, under Messiah, but heavenly blessing, with and like the Son of God, is our expectation. And the consummation of this hope may be realized at any moment when the Lord Himself returns for His own. May we who know these things be like men awaiting their Master, while we seek His glory in the conversion of sinners and the help and encouragement of His own.