It should not be lost on us that the gospel writers intended to portray Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection as a cosmic do-over. The similarity between how the Gospels begin and Genesis 1:1 is stunning. Let’s briefly see how.
The book of Genesis starts with these words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I emphasized “in the beginning” because John begins with exactly the same words. We can use the Greek Septuagint (LXX) to show this:
Genesis 1:1 (LXX) “ΕΝ ἀρχῇ” (en archē) meaning “in the beginning.”
John 1:1 (Mounce) “en ἀρχῇ” (en archē); same words as Genesis 1:1.
This is not a coincidence. John is making a point. In fact, all the gospel writers make this same point as follows:
Matthew 1:1 begins with these words: βίβλος γένεσις (biblos genesis), literally meaning, “book of genesis.”
Mark 1:1 simply begins with the Greek word, archē, or “beginning.”
Luke is slightly different, starting with a long narrative until finally coming the same point in chapter three by tracing Jesus all the way back to Adam (Luke 3:38).
It seems that the gospel writer’s purpose (and Paul’s) was to show that Jesus represented a cosmic reboot (see 2 Cor.5:14; Eph.1:10; Col.1:15-17). Jesus is God’s “new wine” (saving the best for last) in the wedding feast (John 2:9-10); and if we want to truly drink this new wine, it will require we contain it in “new wineskins,” which are a renewed mind and an open heart.
22 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. (Mark 2:22*)
This is why Jesus’ first message is the following:
15 He said, “The time has come, and God’s kingdom is near. Change the way you think and act, and believe the Good News.” (Mark 1:15 GW *)
Jesus came to upgrade our “operating system” by installing an entirely new and unprecedented one. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion about this. The “new wine” doesn’t mean that the New Testament negates the Old Testament, or that the Law was not good; and it especially doesn’t mean that His grace gives us license to be lawless. It means that God’s people will be under new management.
Instead of trying to relate to God by human effort and outward legal observance, we will now be managed by the indwelling Spirit.
The “old wine” was enforced by punishment for infractions; the “new wine” compels by love and the inner witness of the Spirit of sonship (2 Cor.5:14-15; Gal.4:6-7).
But the Old Testament promised this very thing….
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer.31:33-34 *)
And, again, the New Testament writers point this out (see Heb.10:15-17). No longer were God’s people to follow religious rituals; they were now to follow Jesus.
I’ve said this before, but it always bears repeating. To understand this New Covenant rightly begins by understanding that Jesus summarized what God has always wanted from the beginning…
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt.22:37-40 *)
What the New Testament writers were trying to tell us is that since God is love (1 John 4:7-8), walking in His love fulfills “all the Law and the Prophets.”
10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom.13:10 *)
And God means to fulfill this by placing us in Christ! In fact, this was His goal from before the beginning (see Eph.1:3-10).
What this “do-over” looks like in our every day lives
Now that we know what God did for us and to us, what does this “do-over” look like in our everyday lives? As I said in my last post, this is where the absolute brilliance of Jesus’ teaching really shines. What following Jesus and being managed by the Spirit looks like is the Sermon on the Mount! When we do these things we will look and act like Jesus.
I will dig into this discourse in an upcoming teaching series. For now, know that God has placed His Spirit in you and put you in Christ so that you can bear fruit abundantly, and against this “new wine” lifestyle there is no law (see John 15:1-11; Gal.5:22-23).
Beloved, we’re under new management. Don’t try to put old wine in new wineskins.
5:17 In the light of your co-inclusion in his death and resurrection, whoever you thought you were before, in Christ you are a brand new person! The old ways of seeing yourself and everyone else are over. Acquaint yourself with the new! (2 Cor.5:17 MIRROR)