Swimming Lessons (Matthew 9:17)

“Team One! Ready….go!”

The familiar sound of water splashing could be heard a block away. I was walking with my mother as she accompanied me to my weekly swimming lessons. In the neighborhood where I grew up, there was a man who gave swimming lessons in his home pool to children. Nearly every child in the neighborhood learned how to swim with Coach Jake. When he eventually retired, unsurprisingly, no one took his place. This was the early 1960’s and a simpler time. If someone were to now replicate what Coach Jake did so many decades ago, they would be inundated with legal paperwork, regulations, and the financial burdens of licenses. Thankfully, no one was ever hurt at these swimming lessons, yet in retrospect, it would have been disastrous. There were none of the usual safety precautions in place that one finds in today’s public pools or fitness clubs. A simpler time, yes, but certainly much riskier. We simply did not know any better of the many hidden dangers. It took years of activism and lobbying before reform occurred. As onerous as some of these current regulatory requirements may appear, many have created a better and safer environment for all. 

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved. 

Matthew 9:17 (NLT)

When Jesus Christ began His ministry, He taught with an authority and freshness that the Jewish people and leaders had not previously encountered. Some considered His teachings heretical because they were mired in the traditions and teachings of old, unwilling to consider new approaches and interpretations. If these critics and doubters of Jesus Christ had taken the time to study God’s Word, they would have realized that He was fulfilling the prophecies of their ancestors. Jesus was bringing a new wine and it required a new thinking and approach, necessitating new wineskins to receive these teachings. 

There is merit in keeping old traditions and value in adopting new ones. How will we know which to choose? We need to judiciously study God’s Word so we know how to apply it in today’s changing world. The world may change but God’s Word is the same: yesterday, today, and forever. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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