Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
Most people today have only seen wine in a bottle. But in Jesus’ day, after wine fermented in a vat, it was transferred into jars or animals skins so that it could finish the fermentation process or be consumed later. Once a wineskin had aged its contents, it would never again be useful for holding new wine. As the wine aged, the gasses it released would force the skin to expand, almost to the point of bursting. Eventually, the wine would finish fermenting, and the skin would lose its natural flexibility. An old wineskin would now be holding old wine. If you emptied the contents and poured new wine into the skin, the new wine would release more gasses, and the wineskin would burst, unable to expand any further.
So why did Jesus bring this up? In His day, the Pharisees were caught up in religious rituals, and they demanded that everyone else do the same. They felt that the only way to please God was to fulfill every aspect of the law – at least as far as everyone could see. Jesus shattered their world with His teachings. In the parable of the wineskins, He was saying that old religious rituals don’t work with new faith. Basically, He was telling the Pharisees (and us) that a faith based on works doesn’t impress God. He wants our open hearts (fresh wineskins) to be containers of the Lord’s Good News (new wine).
As we move through this fall, look for ways that the Lord is calling you to keep your heart fresh, renewed and receptive to His message and His will.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.