Tearing and Mending

Scripture Reading — Luke 5:36-39

“No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one.”
Luke 5:36 — 

In our Scripture reading today, Jesus is teaching us about the relationship between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church. The relationship involves both continuity and difference. There are dimensions of God’s relationship, or covenant, with Israel that are continued in God’s relationship with us today. There are also differences that move us into a new relationship with God. We need wisdom to discern what remains from the past and what has been fulfilled. And the Holy Spirit gives us that wisdom as he leads us “into all truth” (John 16:13).

Jesus’ illustration of tearing and mending takes us into a first-century tailor shop where a garment is repaired to last for another day. But even the best tailor will discover times when the fabric is so worn that it can’t be repaired; the only option is to make a new garment. It may be patterned on the old one in many ways, but it is new and better too!

Jesus taught that there were parts of the former covenant that would no longer apply in the new one. And if we tried to take pieces of the new covenant and just lay them over the old covenant and try to weave them in, the result would be like a torn garment. The patchwork would be obvious, and it wouldn’t hold. Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and presented us with the new!


Teacher and Lord, show us what continues from the old promises and what you have made new so that your Spirit can shape our thinking, acting, and speaking today. Amen.