Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

Patch Mismatch

Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.”

Luke 5:36 (NKJV)

In this short parable of Jesus, if the garment He refers to is the way Israel thought about the kingdom and about God, and if the piece or patch represents the traditions and practices, the worship and the sacrifices, the inclusion of some and the exclusion of others—if these are our bridges to this parable—then Jesus is clear: the ministry He brings cannot be sewn to the garment of religion as they knew it, because it won’t match the old ways of doing faith. Jesus’ ministry does not match the old ways of practicing spirituality.

Here's Jesus’ message: His garment cannot have pieces cut out and then sewn onto the old thread-weak garment that ignored love for all humanity, where the law and its interpretation superseded a warrant for a simple, intimate relationship with God. His garment won’t work if sewn onto the garment of religious exclusion and marginalization.

Jesus’ new garment casts a wider net, and it includes “whosoever will.” It stands on the side of the oppressed and the marginalized. His garment cares about the hungry. His garment cares about the homeless. His garment is concerned about the incarcerated and the immigrant. His garment champions forgiveness and believes in human restoration. His garment warms with grace and blankets with mercy.

Trying to tear pieces of this and sew them to the garment that existed will tear that garment to pieces when it settles in and shrinks to true size. Should it even stay attached at all, it would only make obvious the mismatch at the places where the attempt was made.

What in your life are the thoughts and emotions that have carried you thus far? The hurts and scars that have shaped your perceptions and scripted your conversations? What have been your aims and ambitions, your judgments about life and people? What historically has framed your reference and shaped your desires?

Whatever these old garments have been, Jesus brings the new garment of His eternal vision for your life. Don’t try to patch your old garment with new cloth. Release your hold on and loyalty to the old, and surrender to the new garment Jesus has for you.