Hold on to the Old While Embracing the New

Hold on to the Old While Embracing the New

Through a mini-parable, Jesus exhorts everyone willing to hear to hold on to the old while embracing the new. Only one verse in length, we could easily miss both the parable and its meaning. Confident that everyone would clearly understand, He offered no further explanation.

Although I try hard to avoid waste, invariably I discover an outdated, expired, or overdue food item pushed to the back corner of a cupboard or the refrigerator. Ugh! Because most food products carry labels informing us when something is no longer safe for consumption, I know when the old must go!

In contrast, as a watercolor painter, the beginning layers of paint affect every new layer that will be placed on them. The old never grows old but forms a strategic foundation for the new. The point Jesus makes in His parable resembles watercolor far more that my refrigerator.

“He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
Matthew 13:52

The Old

What happens when an old teacher of the Law becomes a new disciple of Jesus Christ? Must he then throw out every “old” concept as moldy, outdated, and expired?

Jesus answers, “No!”

The old teacher holds a tremendous advantage. As he pays attention to the Old while embracing the New, he discovers otherwise hidden resources — a storeroom overflowing with both New and Old treasures.

If we read the New Testament with honesty, we uncover a beautiful web of meaning originating from Genesis throughout the pages to end of Revelation. Out of the Old flows treasures far surpassing diamonds or gold.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
Romans 15:4

“Everything that was written,” every word within the Word, precious, anointed, life-giving and powerful! Every word instructing, teaching, encouraging, and hope-filled! Oh, that we would learn to hold on to the Old while embracing the New.

The New

In another passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declares,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Matthew 5:17

Jesus warns listeners, then and now, to not “set aside” the Old. In the same breath, He makes a surprising promise for those who both hold on to the Old while embracing the New.

” … but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:19

As evangelical Christians, we easily stumble blindly past Jesus’ words, failing to give them the respect and honor they deserve. We rightly enjoy freedom, knowing Jesus paid our sin-debt in full. No further sacrifice is needed!

Though ultimate sacrifice met every requirement of the Law, Jesus did not erase it.

Immediately after these words, Jesus shocked His listeners by reinforcing the Law to incomprehensible levels. Don’t commit murder now meant not even calling someone a fool! Don’t commit adultery now included not even looking at another person lustfully. He challenged everyone to not only love their neighbors, but to also love their enemies.

Old and New

Like a true watercolor artist, Jesus picks up the dual brushes of the Old and New Covenant — filled and exposed fully for us all. The rich, heavenly hues of depth, color, and dimension interwoven with precision. Both taking form in the Triunity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The more one studies the Old, the more beautiful the New becomes. The more one comprehends the heart of God in the Old, the more we are humbled by the expression of that heart in the New. Together, as teachers of the Law and disciples of the Kingdom of Heaven, we draw from the storehouse treasures available to us. In holding to the Old and embracing the New, a well-spring of wisdom unfolds.

“He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
Matthew 13:52

My Prayer

Oh, Holy Father, grant us tender hearts and willing minds to embrace both the Old and New of Your grace and goodness. There is no expiration date! The Old never grows old. The New never loses its luster. Both Old and New remain eternally true. May we read the Bible from a panoramic view — Genesis to Revelation. Reveal to us the depths of what we hold in our hands and hide in our hearts. Give us grace to see You in every word. May we see the beauty and artistry embedded within each line, woven like no other love story to us, Your beloved sons and daughters. May Your Word become fresh — both the Old and the New. The colours blending into the imagine of immaculate perfection that You designed. Help us to be brought low in the discovery, as we hold on to the Old while embracing the New.
Worthy, O God, are You!
Amen.

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Answer the Call – Responding Immediately, “Yes, Lord!”

Respond Immediately

Why is the cry from our lips, “More Lord?” If we follow the pattern of the early disciples, our response will more often be a resounding “Yes, Lord!”

Today such a reaction is counter cultural. I am amazed by how quickly and completely these men and others answered the call to an obedient and sacrificial “Yes!” Were they fully committed? Definitely!

Joseph

We find an honourable young man and woman in the process of planning and preparing for their wedding. Full of love for each, they anticipate and dream about many wonderful years ahead.

Then the unexpected! Mary is pregnant! Joseph wanted to do what was the very best according to the law with the greatest compassion toward Mary.

“Joseph…did not want to expose her to public disgrace,
he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
Matthew 1: 19

In this midst of the agony of “obvious” betrayal, an angel appears to him in a dream confirming what Mary had tried to explain already. Joseph believes the unbelievable, the child is conceived of the Holy Spirit!

Pregnancy

When Joseph woke up,
he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him…”
Matthew 1: 24

Joseph didn’t wrestle for days or even hours to weigh the implications. Neither did he allow emotion or sound reasoning to dissuade him. He responded immediately!

Joseph’s, “Yes, Lord!” would cost him his reputation and alienation from friends and family. When Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, Joseph’s hometown, to register for taxes no one received them. Aunts and uncles, cousins, and perhaps siblings lived here. No room! There was no room for this family!

Another dream, another angel, another message, another “Yes, Lord!” For the sake of his wife and family he would become a refugee without securities of homeland. In fact, we see Joseph so loved and obeyed God that there would be a pattern of laying himself down in order to do the will of God.

Don’t skim through the lines thinking these were easy choices. Joseph’s sacrificial “Yes!” came at a great price! God chose well who to establish as the stepfather for His Son. He could trust Joseph to obey!

Simon Peter

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew
casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Mark 1:16-18

“At once!”

They didn’t immediately leave the family business, assets and industry because Jesus was a world-renowned leader with a huge following and giant reputation. This was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Peter and Andrew were the first to follow!

There were no contracts explaining personal benefits! No explanation of the ministry or mission plan! No introduction to a pension plan or benefit package!

Fishermen Galilee

“I will send you out to fish for people,” sounds quite vague to my always questioning mind.

What was so compelling? Why did they leave the “sure thing” of financial security? What drew them instantly to their, “Yes, Lord!”

More “Yes, Lord!”

More would follow!

James and John, the sons of Zebedee,

immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
Matthew 4:22

Such immediate response is beyond understanding. They were laying everything down for the sake of Christ. Everything!

Can you feel the heart of Zebedee in this encounter? Later, he would perhaps understand, but right now was difficult. He wasn’t as young as he once was. He depended on his boys to carry on the family business and help him in his retirement.

Yes, Lord Anywhere

Life ahead would be radically different from everything they knew.

Others would join them in similar fashion.

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi
sitting in the tax collector’s booth.
Jesus said to him, Follow me!
 
So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.”
Luke 5:27-28

Questions and Doubts

Some of John’s disciples would shift ranks and follow this Jesus. First they weighed the odds, asked many questions and tested Jesus’ ministry.

Other’s like Nathaneal would initial scoff. Some would refuse the call altogether choosing rather to stay in their place of normal. Family, security and reputation are hard to risk!

Wealth

God probably isn’t asking such a great price from you. But then, maybe He is!

Just this past week I met another young couple leaving all with a resolute, “Yes, Lord!” as they venture to another unreached people group. Neither they nor their destination can be disclosed for their own protection. We send our best; it is the best whom Jesus calls.

I wish I could testify that I too have consistently and quickly said “Yes, Lord!” Unfortunately, it has not been so! I am challenged in my level of willingness to yield wholly and immediately to His voice.

The voice of Jesus calling more followers may come through the bible as one reads and studies. Perhaps, it will come through a dream or vision. It may come through an open opportunity under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

May my response be as immediate and complete as other followers of the Messiah. On the backs of their obedience, we can trace the expansion of Christianity worldwide. They knew nothing of the impact they would have. Nothing!

Before the crowds and miracles,
without powerful messages, sermons, or teaching,
even recklessly and irrationally,
with limited understanding or foreknowledge,
they said, “Yes, Lord!”

Yet, they put in action to their, “Yes, Lord!” and followed him – not perfectly, but completely. It is never too early or too late to do the same. Join the chorus of others. Say, “Yes, Lord” when you sense He is calling you to motion!

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