New Wine

Luke 17:2 “…nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

This particular passage of the Bible has caused a problem for understanding Jesus, the Messiah whom the Greeks called Christos, Christ in English. Older translations instigated the basis for a false doctrine teaching God is in every person. What is in every person is the sinful nature the Greeks call “sarx” — “Sarx is used to speak of man as weak, frail, mortal, inadequate. It is in this usage of the word, which arises naturally from the usage already noticed in the previous section, that “flesh” becomes associated with sin.” (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/026009437802900203)

That sinful, or fallen nature, is regarding Adam and Eve’s falling from their personal relationship with God and permeating through all of Humanity. So, it describes everyone living today and everyone who has ever lived. Don’t know about you, but the only natural condition within me has proven to be beyond weak and inadequate. Notwithstanding all that, Jesus is restoring a new nature within me, progressively moving out the old hurtful and harmful crap, restoring His nature within. (Philippians 1:6 — “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” NIV)

The alternative translation “the kingdom of God is within you” causes an inconsistency with other passages which say, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20, ESV) or “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV) The picture in my mind, therefore, is Jesus joining with a purposeful group. Where there are two, there are three, and where there are three, there are four. When I remember this in combination with Jesus’ first public challenge, it seems to me, Jesus was and is the Kingdom of God. At the very beginning of Jesus preaching and teaching this was the message:

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (Matthew 3: 1–2)

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (Matthew 4:17) What else could they have meant? Jesus is the whole kit and kaboodle, the whole ball of wax, and so on and so forth.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5, NIV) or in the NLT — “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” When a person is born again, they can have the Holy Spirit working within. Not before.

Our natural nature is unhealthy for us, Jesus wants to give to everyone a new healthful nature. And who doesn’t want good health?

I think that the following passage of Paul’s letter to the believers in Colossae is representative of what I am trying to convey, to convince about the greatest self-improvement program ever offered — a change from the natural to the kingdom of heaven, life with Jesus:

“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:10–14, NLT)

Want to trade in the old for the new? Yeah, yeah. The old car still runs well. But listen to this one final concession where Jesus admitted “… no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5:39) Listen, try the new wine before you give your final judgment of your taste test. “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8, NLT)

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D L Henderson

Born 1950; HS 1968; Born again 1972; Cornell ILR; Steward, Local President/Business Agent; Husband, father, grandfather; winner/loser/everything in between