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The Parables of Jesus Part 4
Matthew 9:17, Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37-39 - Jesus came to introduce us to something new!
“Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.””
Matthew 9:17 NASB1995
“No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.””
Mark 2:22 NASB1995
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’ ””
Luke 5:37-39 NASB1995
This short parable is related to the last one on patching an old garment with new cloth. The two parables came in response to criticism from the Pharisees that Jesus and His disciples didn’t fast, but seemed to feast all the time. All three Gospel versions are fairly similar, but there are a couple of noteworthy differences. In the Matthew version, the new wine in fresh wineskins preserves both the wine and the container. And the Luke version has an additional verse that addresses how people are unwilling to change, thinking that the old wine is “good enough” and they don’t wish for new wine.
What are wineskins? Well, the example in my photo will be familiar to many and these types of containers are still sold today for toting around some wine in a way that avoids glass bottles and other unwieldy containers. Some of the wineskins sold are now made using plastic but others, like the Spanish Botas, are made with leather and have a strap and a spigot that can close and not spill wine (similar to the picture above). I recall seeing lots of college students get away with hiding Botas under their jackets or shirts and sneaking them into college football games many years ago (not that I would know anything about ways to get beverages into college sporting events). A wineskin used in the days of Jesus probably looked like this picture below:
The concern for pouring new (and unfermented) wine into a wineskin that had been used before is that the wine would expand as it fermented, causing the old leather “skin” to burst. Wineskins were likely rather inexpensive or easy to make, so new skins were purchased or made for new wine to ensure both would be preserved. Jesus is preparing the way for the New Covenant, which does not resort to patching up the Pharisaical laws with His path to salvation or pouring His Words into an established framework that is incompatible.
Here is Commentary from Enduring Word for the passage in Mark that is relevant:
New wine must be put into new wineskins: Jesus’ point was made clear by these examples. You can’t fit His new life into the old forms. Jesus traded fasting for feasting; sackcloth and ashes for a robe of righteousness; a spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise; mourning for joy; and law for grace.
Through the centuries, old rigid forms could rarely contain the work of the Holy Spirit. Through the generations, God often looks for new wineskins because the old ones won’t stretch any further.
Jesus came to introduce something new, not to patch up something old. This is what salvation is all about. In doing this, Jesus doesn’t destroy the old (the law), but He fulfills it, just as an acorn is fulfilled when it grows into an oak tree. There is a sense in which the acorn is gone, but its purpose is fulfilled in greatness.
Similarly, the Commentary for the passage in Luke has some excellent points:
But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved: Jesus’ point is clear. You can’t fit His new life into the old forms. This explains why Jesus did not begin a reform movement within Judaism, working with the rabbinical schools and such. Jesus says, “I haven’t come to patch up your old practices. I come with a whole new set of clothes.”
Jesus formed a new institution – the church – that brought Jew and Gentile together into a completely new body (Ephesians 2:16).
Jesus reminds us that what is old and stagnant often cannot be renewed or reformed. God will often look for new vessels to contain His new work, until those vessels eventually make themselves unusable. This reminds us that the religious establishment of any age is not necessarily pleasing to Jesus. Sometimes it is in direct opposition to His work, or at least resisting His work.
And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, “The old is better”: Just because people are more comfortable with the old, some assume that it is better. Our modern age is more taken with the shiny and new rather than what is old; yet we shouldn’t accept or reject anything simply because it is old or new.
I think the point made about how the religious establishment of any age is not necessarily pleasing to Jesus is critical to understand. The church (one or more of the many varieties) may be in direct opposition to His work. And just because something is old OR new we shouldn’t necessarily accept it or reject it, but use discernment to accept it based on understanding the precepts given to us by God.
My next devotional examines one of the most important parables in the Gospels: The Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:2-9, Luke 8:4-8).
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - I humbly pray on scripture, from Paul in Colossians, to remind me of your new Covenant:
“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
Colossians 2:20-23 NASB1995
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.