New Wine in Old Wine Skin
The gospel of today applies in every aspect of our human existence both psychologically, spiritually and socially. To fully understand the gospel we have to look into the earlier part of this chapter of the gospel.
From verses 10-13, we see Jesus eating with tax collectors and the Pharisees who thought this to be abnormal questioned Jesus.
What Led to This.
This gospel is just a continuation of yesterday’s gospel of the call of Matthew. So, after Matthew agrees to follow Jesus, He leaves everything and followed the Lord. So, Matthew invited Jesus to have dinner in his house.
Then, while Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, his fellow tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Jesus and His disciples. Now, when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Then, on hearing this, Jesus replied that “It is not healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. He tells them that He has not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus reprimanded them by saying that what He desires is mercy and not sacrifice.
So, after this encounter, the disciples of John approached Jesus, because they could not understand why they must always be eating and not fast which was almost a practice for the religious leaders of the time.
Even the Pharisees boast about fasting ( Luke 18:11-12). So, Jesus replies to John’s disciples saying “How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast” and no one patches an old cloth with a piece of unshrunk cloth onto an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.’
What This Means.
1. Here, Jesus compares Himself to the bridegroom while the disciples are the guests. In a wedding ceremony, it looks absurd to see the guests fast while the bridegroom is present.
In the Jewish community, a wedding is a great feast. You can remember how the master of the banquet at the wedding at Cana complained to the bridegroom that “Everyone brings out the best wine first, but they saved the best until later. So, they see wedding as a great feast. It is absurd to declare fasting during wedding. So, what Jesus is saying is that His presence should bring joy and not sorrow to His disciples.
2. Secondly, the Jews fast to await the coming Messiah. It is part of the requirement for the messianic expectation. So, what Jesus is telling them now is that since the messiah they are waiting for is here, they do not need to fast any longer. But when the messiah will be taken from the disciples, they can fast. What they are fasting for, is now already with them, so there is no need to fast.
3. Thirdly, Jesus compares His coming as the new cloth and the new wine. He has come to fulfil the law. So, righteousness now is dependent on the grace and a relationship with him and not on the demands of the law. To still go back to the demands of the law, while they have to accept and embrace a relationship with Him, will create a problem.
What this implies.
1. This is a sign that the presence of Jesus is now ushering in a new covenant. It is no longer salvation that depends on our human effort and the extent to which we fast but a period of grace.
Jesus is ushering in the new wine, the new covenant which will depend more on God’s infinite mercy and love. So, how could they fast when Jesus had discovered for them a new way to relate to God and a new spirit which was a fulfilment of the old way. This is the new wine.
2. It means that the old ways are now being fulfilled with the Presence of Jesus. Jesus is representing the new wine, while the Pharisees and teachers and John’s disciples represent the old wine.
3. In this new one it is no longer how much we seek personal righteousness but how much we seek Jesus. This is the new wine. So, it is no longer salvation only for the Jews but for the new people of God including the gentiles.
The new wine is the time when God’s love and mercy reign supreme. So, trying to bring in the old which has already been fulfilled by Christ can never work.
4. To put fresh or new wine into an old wineskin, however, is seeking trouble. We can not put new ideas into old mindsets. We can not get new results with old behaviours. To indeed be a new man in Christ we have to lose hold of the past and ask God for the infilling of His grace.
We have to accept Jesus wholeheartedly and relate with Him. We have to live and depend on His love and grace. Our salvation is no longer dependent on human efforts alone but on our relationship with God. Therefore if any man is in Christ, He is simply a new man. Old things must be passed away to become new. ( 2 Cor 5:17).
5. Also We cannot succeed when we still allow our past to hurt us. We have to forgive our pasts and move on in other to surge forward. So, We have to put on the new cloth and take the new wine.
We cannot patch it with an old one. We have to continually imbibe new ideas, new thoughts and attitudes to be able to stand with the changes in the world.
6. The more we learn the more we grow. The old is constantly giving birth to new things, all we have to do is to be abreast with the new challenges. Always go to God with a pure and new heart.
May God bless you dearest and help us to quit dwelling in the past. May He help us to continually move forward Amen.