“Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, ‘How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’ The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.’”
It is raining. The weatherman tells us that the weather will get cold after this autumn rain. It looks like God is going to give us a new season. I pray that our hearts will be renewed as the season changes.
Chapter 2 of Mark’s Gospel teaches us what Jesus Christ means to us. Our Lord Jesus Christ is God fundamentally and therefore He is fully qualified to be our Savior who remitted away all our sins. He is the Messiah who came to save all earthlings by blotting out all the sins of the world. He is the Judge who can tell whether someone has received the remission of sins or not. He punishes sinners and rewards sinless people in His time. We can verify these facts from today’s Scripture.
When Jesus saw a paralyzed man in Capernaum, He said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” He explained what He meant, “I tell you this so that you may know the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” What Jesus told us implies that He is the Savior who gives us the remission of sins.
What Are Religions in the World?
We must recognize Jesus as our God not just one of the many gods of the worldly religions. Here is the definition of what popular religions are like today: “Religion is a system of man-made doctrines and it is something in which people worship and rely on whom they think respectful.” People create reliable subjects in their minds to depend on and ask for help. These are so-called man-made religions. In other words, religions are what people create and depend on for their relief. For example, some Chinese worship their war hero, General KwanYu as their house god. They hang General KuanYu’s portrait up and burn incense in front of it. When they are faced with difficult problems, they pray to KwanYu and ask him for help.
People depend on self-created religions in their minds and they also abolish them of their own accord. Simply put, it is a mirage created in people’s minds. People not only create their own gods, but also get rid of them from their minds. So we can conclude that religions are what people create for themselves and believe arbitrarily in their minds.
Who Is Jesus?
God is the One who really does exist and saves us from all our sins. Jesus is the main figure in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and therefore He is the true God who can help us. Jesus, who is actually God, is in the hearts of those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He is God who is always with us while working for us. God comes by the Holy Spirit into the hearts of people who believe in the gospel of water and the Spirit. And He blesses the righteous. That is why those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit trust in this living God and follow Him.
So we believers of the gospel of the water and the Spirit enjoy real happiness in Jesus Christ. How can we have faith and good fortune that we could only dream of? It is all possible through the love of Jesus Christ our God. We do not live out our faith that we can see in other worldly religions and in movies. We are blessed people who have really met the living God and received salvation in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we think about how we can meet our God of salvation and truth, we feel thankful for such a precious thing.
As a matter of fact, we did not meet God on our own, but God met us. While we live out our life of faith, we are reminded of God’s blessings from time to time. Our Lord is the living God; He is the truth; and He is our Shepherd forever. This is still amazing and dreamlike. God’s blessings are not mere theories but reality. That is how our life of faith differs from those of other religions of this world. We trust in God who still lives and blesses us. The Lord has given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and by believing in this beautiful gospel all the blessings promised in the Bible has came true. We are walking with this God and working with Him. You will burst out with thankfulness and amazement when you realize every blessing from God is actually true and real.
However, we tend to forget His grace even while we are sharing the gospel of God with people. Nevertheless, the Lord is with you and me and works for us, protects us, guides us, and fulfills His will through us. By faith that what God gave us, we can see the work of God in His Church. I would like to re-emphasize that we are truly happy people with God’s blessings.
We can find just before today’s Scripture passage that Jesus met a paralyzed man and remitted his sins, saying, “Your sins are forgiven you.” In addition, He healed the paralytic and told him to get up and walk. Jesus bestowed such blessing on the paralyzed man.
After this Jesus went on to the shore. Capernaum was a village on the seashore. When He arrived at the shore, a huge crowd followed Him. Jesus taught them how to get to Heaven. When Jesus saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at the tax office and called him, “Follow Me,” he got up immediately and followed Him.
Jesus Is the Savior to All Sinners
This time Jesus went to the house of Levi, the chief tax collector, and ate with them. Among those who were sitting with Jesus were Levi’s friends, his co-worker tax collectors, and public sinners. Jesus liked them.
As you all know, Jesus is not only our Messiah to save all people from sins, but also our friend. So wherever Jesus went, the place was crowded with sinners. These sinners strived to be with Jesus no matter where He was. They went after Jesus from just a rumor of Jesus’ whereabouts. Jesus was always happy to eat with sinners such as tax collectors and taught them the Truth. Many people chased and followed after Jesus, and He did really save us from all our sins and became a friend to those who sin over and over again. Our true Savior has given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He still wants to deliver insufficient people with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
There were some arrogant people in Jesus’ days as there are today. They mocked Jesus, while humble people followed Jesus even more willingly since they acknowledged their shortcomings. That is why we can call Jesus “the friend of sinners.” People who regarded themselves as flawless such as the Pharisees and the Scribes said, “How is it that your teacher Jesus eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners? How can He not recognize them and eat with such well-known sinners?” When Jesus heard this, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He is saying that people, who consider themselves as good and clean people living piously every day, do not need Him; but those who confess they are so insufficient that they commit sin everyday really need Him. In other words, our Lord did not come to call those who think they do not commit sins, but sinners. God said He would call sinners and wash them clean with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, set them aside, adopt them as His children and lead them to enjoy the wealth and glory of God.
The Pharisees and the scribes thought they were flawless and asked Jesus the following question. “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus responded to them like this. “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days” (Mark 2:19-20). He compared Himself to the bridegroom.
No One Sews a Piece of Unshrunk Cloth onto an Old Garment
In verse 21 and 22, the Lord said, “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”
Today’s Christians need to renew their minds. We were born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord came to this earth to save us from sins, and took our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist. This is the real Truth. The sins of everyone on earth were all passed onto Jesus Christ. Therefore, there are no sins in our hearts who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is because all our sins were passed onto Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ took all our sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist and died on the Cross. He rose up from the dead and saved us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit from all our sins.
People like us who believe in the gospel of water and the Spirit do not actually have any sins. However, we still need to renew our minds since we have received the remission of all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. How do we transform our minds? The account about the old wine skins and new wine skin teaches us how we can renew our minds and faith after we are saved from sins.
We become righteous people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, if we live according to our old ways of thinking, true faith does not grow on us. If you really became the children of God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and if you believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Messiah of the human race, you must renew your thoughts of flesh and live by faith that trust in God’s righteousness. We believe that Jesus has blotted out all our sins. We also received the remission of sins by believing in Jesus Christ who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If that is the case, we should not walk according to our old life styles, but we should live out our faith walking on the road of faith. We must renew our minds and thoughts by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, we need to lead our lives of faith by believing in God’s righteousness. We need to do this because our Lord did indeed remit all our sins away. Our Lord took over our sins, received the verdict as a sinner for our sake, and rose up from the dead and saved us once and for all. So there actually is no sin within us. We are born again by faith. Therefore, from now on we must think and live by faith that trusts in the righteousness of God. It means we have to use our thoughts and faith because of what our Lord has done for us.
How did Jesus say He would lead us after delivering us from our sins? How did He say He would bless us? What did He say we should do? He told us not only about the remission of sins but also about the life of true faith after receiving the remission of sins. We should thus trust God’s Word, think by faith, and live the life of faith by trusting in His Word. Our way of thinking should not be the same as we had before. We should be able to get away from our old habits once we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and receive the remission of sins. As the Scripture says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17), we need to form a new frame of mind in our God-given faith. We should live a life of faith that gets rid of everything old by trusting in God’s righteousness.
The Lord also told us. “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined” (Mark 2:22). We cannot understand this verse if we try to translate it literally like this “Is there any reason why we should put new wine into new wineskins? Why should it be new wineskins when we can put new wine into old wineskins?” If you try to understand God’s word from a worldly point of view, you will end up with more question marks in your head. But if you ponder upon the Word of God by faith trusting God’s righteousness, you can understand it spiritually. New wine must be put into new wineskins. Or else the new wine will bursts the wineskins, the wine will spill out, and the wineskins will be ruined as well.
Here is the spiritual meaning of this verse. When we try to solve our problems with our old ways of thinking, things don’t work out. Once we become the children of God, we need to live with new thoughts in God’s Word. We should pray that our thoughts will be renewed in the Word of God. We must not try to solve problems of this world with the customs or value system we had before we were born again. We should live with a renewed mind by faith trusting in God’s righteousness to solve our problems. This is how we can keep the wineskins intact. Otherwise the old wineskins will burst and waste all of the new contents.
We as mere humans still encounter a lot of problems during our life of faith even though we were saved by faith. Things don’t work out if we try to solve them with the old ways of thinking and not with the renewed way of thinking by faith. Since what we had in the past was not of the Truth, we should take it off and enter the new world of faith. Our thoughts of flesh are not perfect, and they will get shattered. Carnal thoughts do not ever blend in with the truth, nor can they contain the Truth. We will lose true faith if we use it according to worldly standards. In other words, not just the wineskins, but the wine as well will be wasted unless we deny our carnal thoughts. That is why the Lord told the Pharisees the scribes and even the Christians today that they should live a life of faith with renewed minds.
First of all, we must know and believe that Jesus is God who has the power to remit sins away, and that Jesus is the Son of God. Just like Jesus Christ remits our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we need to think and make conclusions in faith that trust in the Word of God that Jesus gave us. We should live our lives solving these problems in this way.
Let’s Find Out What Is Wrong with Today’s Christians
There is one thought that all Christians should change. And this is that all Christians are supposed to be pure, clean, do not commit sins and always do good needs to be broken to pieces. Jesus ate and spent time not only with His disciples but also with numerous sinners. So many sinners followed Jesus. People tend to think that living an upright and perfect life after believing in Jesus will bring more of God’s blessings, but it is not true when it comes to the issue of salvation. We are weak and insufficient no matter if we are saved or not. This is why we always need the righteousness of Jesus and it is important for us to live by that faith just as the sick need a physician. No matter how insufficient we are the Lord is with us all the time. The Lord always stays with us to help us and guides us.
The more weaknesses we find in ourselves and the more we know about our weaknesses, the more grateful we feel in our hearts for our Lord’s love. We become filled with joy and thanks to God for saving us who are so insufficient through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we see ourselves as weak and helpless, we get to thank God for saving us from all our sins and weaknesses.
Whenever we see our weaknesses we are unable to express enough with words how grateful we are for being saved from all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus ate with sinners after He blotted our all their sins. So we can walk with Jesus in spite of our weaknesses. I am thankful to God that I know we can walk with Him just because of what He has done for us.
The righteous should turn their carnal thoughts into spiritual thoughts. We shouldn’t think the way the Pharisees and the scribes did. Jesus accompanied the weak, became our Savior and is leading us. We shouldn’t think that we can follow Jesus because of our upright deeds. Jesus is the Messiah who came to this earth to save sinners. We are such sinners till the very day we die. Jesus is the Savior who came and saved us once and for all. He did so through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Therefore there is no sin within us thanks to our faith in Him. He took all the sins we have committed and the sins we would commit for the rest of our lives when He was baptized. Jesus received the verdict for us on the Cross so that we may not stand guilty. This means that we are saved from sins and we will go to Heaven as God’s children without condemnation just by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We can still follow Jesus despite our weaknesses. The Lord walks with us regardless of our infirmities. Not only that, He teaches us, guides us and blesses us. That is why we need to get rid of our old ways of thinking. Abandon all the habits and thoughts you had before you were born again. Those who received the remission of sins through the Word must trust the Word of God and proceed by believing in God’s Word.
If you received the remission of sins after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you should not live according to our old ways of thinking. What did Jesus say? Did He not call us sin-sick people who commit sins every single day? Did He not say that our sins are like scarlet?
Remember that Jesus ate with the sinners. Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked how Jesus how He could eat with the sinners and the tax collectors. Jesus told them that He came to save and stay with those who are low and insufficient, and that He would be the true and eternal Savior to them.
Therefore, we must change our carnal thoughts into spiritual ones and follow the Lord by faith. If we don’t change our old thinking habits, we do not honor the fact that God remitted our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We should live by new thoughts of faith. Even after we receive the remission of sins, we still sin, so we need to depend on God’s righteousness to solve these problems.
If you do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you need to learn it. That you don’t know the gospel of the water and the Spirit means you do not believe in Jesus. You should not only know but also believe that Jesus came to this earth and had Himself baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, and saved us from all our sins once and for all because of our weaknesses. That is how we can receive the remission of sins.
To those of us who believed and received the remission of sins, Jesus tells us this. “I have removed all of your sins and weaknesses in your whole life. So your sins were passed onto me and now you should follow me by faith regardless of your weaknesses.” He told us that He arranged everything for us to follow Him by faith. The passage, “The just shall live by faith,” is going to come true in our lives. If you hold onto the old thinking habits after receiving the remission of your sins, you will ruin even the remission of your sins. In other words, you should not think according to the worldly standards, but you should make decisions based on the Word of God and faith. Otherwise, your faith will collapse.
If those who do not receive the remission of their sins and believe in Jesus arbitrarily, they will not be saved. Jesus looked for sinners when the religious people took pride in their holiness. They could not be saved because of such arrogance. When Jesus was in a house in Capernaum, a paralyzed man showed up. That place was packed out with people like a sardine can, but only five people could meet Jesus. They were the paralyzed man and his four friends. Those five people had passable faith and received the remission of their sins.
On the other hand, the rest of the crowd did not receive the remission of sins. They thought, “Is Jesus going to perform a miracle this time? Is He going to heal the crippled man? Is He going to cure a leper?” They focused on the physical illness and missed the point completely. Physical illness happens because our body is weak. God allows difficulties and accidents so that we can seek God. People who want to get their physical problems solved and believe that the solution to their physical problems are the signs of God’s favoritism, are the ones who have lost the real purpose of Jesus’ coming to this earth. It is wrong to believe that believing in Jesus will make you healthy, wealthy and blessed.
Jesus came to this earth to save us from sins, to adopt us as God’s children and to bless us with all heavenly blessings. It is true that we are blessed in both body and soul when we follow the Lord with faith of trusting in His Word. We get blessings as our faith grows. To disregard what Jesus said is not a proper faith. False prophets say, “Only believe in Jesus, and you will be saved, Believe in the blood of Jesus, and you will also be saved. I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you. If you believe in Jesus, your disease will be cured. If you believe in Jesus, everything will go well.” So we should not interpret His Word based on our worldly desires. It is like the parable of putting the new wine into the old wineskins and ruining everything. I assure you the old wineskins will burst when new wine is poured into them.
God’s Word does not conform to our carnal thoughts. As a matter of fact, old wine tastes better. Many European countries like France produce wine, and a bottle of very old wine can cost up to some millions of dollars. What does it mean new wine must be put into new wineskins, when older wine is better than the new? This is about what kind of faith we should have after believing in the Word of Truth and receiving the remission of our sins. We should trust what God says in the Bible and take the Word of God as it is and follow Him. That is how we can keep our faith and receive guidance to the Heavenly Kingdom.
There are people who left the Church after receiving the remission of their sins. They make friends with those from the other Christian communities. Then both the religious groups and the individual become ruined. Once a person who just became the new wine is put into old wineskins, they will also become useless. Living a life of faith in a religious group ruins both the group and that person.
Therefore the righteous should get together with other righteous people. The Lord said that we could meet Him only if we change our minds. He also said that we should abandon all old ideas and follow Him with new faith trusting in His Word. That is the only right way to live our life of faith.
Jesus ate and talked with sinners and tax collectors. With whom would an average man want to eat? At that time, the Pharisees and the scribes were in high positions. If Jesus wanted to be treated with respect, He should have eaten and talked with those people who spoke so elegantly. However, the people around Jesus were well-known sinners. What did tax collectors do? Israel was under Roman colonial rule at that time. So people who worked at tax offices collected tax and took it to the Roman government. When they collected ten cents for tax, they pocketed five cents into their own.
That is why the tax collectors were known as sinners by the Israelites. But Jesus saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” Then after that Levi and his friends were eating with Jesus laughing out loud and making a noise. From the Pharisees and the scribes’ point of view, Jesus was hanging around with immoral people, so they thought they would not befriend Him. As the saying goes, “If you want to know someone’s character, just look at that person’s friends,” the Pharisees and the scribes looked at the people around Jesus like this and ridiculed Him amongst themselves.
So Jesus said this. “Son, your sins are forgiven you. I say this to let you know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins. Pick up your mat and walk” Then he indeed took up his mat and walked away. People were shocked.
This time Jesus called Levi to follow Him and ate with immoral people, so He did not meet the standards of the Pharisees. Jesus then said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” and “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth onto an old garment.” We usually use unshrunk cloth on an old garment. This example cannot be understood from God’s Word with our human preconceptions.
The unshrunk cloth implies new faith that people receive from the gospel of the water and the Spirit after receiving the remission of their sins. Therefore, this passage means that we the born-again should apply new faith in our daily problems. We should put this new faith into practice to solve the problems in our lives. Jesus also said we should put new wine into new wineskins. This means we should follow Jesus by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit since we have changed our minds and received the remission of our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is the way to walk with the Lord.
You and I still have a lot of flaws and weaknesses. No matter how many such problems we have, it does not affect our life of faith as long as we hang onto our faith based on God’s Word. But if we do not change our minds and try to follow Jesus with our old standards, it will always create problems. If someone tries to live a life of faith with old thinking habits, he will give up his life of faith eventually. Among those who claimed to have received the remission of sins, there can be these kinds of people These people leave God’s church to live a separate life of faith, judging God’s servants: “How can God’s servant behave like that? He should have done better.” They still have worldly thoughts. That is how their wineskins burst and cannot continue with their lives of faith ever.
We need to live out our faith everyday trusting God’s righteousness. We should solve problems one by one in the Word of God. You and I still have a lot of problems. Once we solve one problem, another problem shows up. These are family problems, work problems and health problems arise one after another. We need to solve all these problems by faith. We should do so in the Word of God. Do not try to solve your problems by worldly means. New wine must be put into new wineskins only. This is the truth.
I thank God for giving us this precious Word of truth.