Jesus said, “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” (Mark 2:21-22)
Jesus says today’s words to John the Baptist’s disciples and to the Pharisees, both groups who are fasting while Jesus and His new friends are feasting. The former crowds are looking gloomy, whereas Jesus and His friends are looking joyous.
While John liked to scold folks, Jesus beckoned to them. While the Pharisees thought that they had to follow hundreds of rules to get right with God, Jesus simply said, “Follow me.”
By bringing a new message, Jesus was asking them to drink “new wine.” Sadly, John’s disciples and the Pharisees didn’t know how to hear this message, much less drink it. Jesus’ new wine was bursting the old wineskins of their minds and hearts. His new wine was also bursting their preconceived beliefs about God.
In our own life with Jesus, we need to decide what’s most important—either His new wine or our old wineskins.
Like many of you, I know what it’s like to get comfortable with our old wineskins, that is, our paths, ways, rituals, thinking, and rules. But Jesus is always about the new adventure to embark upon, the new mission to start, the new people to reach, the new service to undertake, and the new vision to live into.
I’m not saying the old is bad. Nor am I saying old things can’t be made new—they can. But Jesus’ warning is clear. Unlike some of John’s disciples and unlike the Pharisees, I encourage us to not become so settled upon the old wineskins that we can’t hear and drink deep upon the new wine of Jesus.
Jesus wants us to make new wineskins that can hold the wine of His love and grace. He wants us to drink deep. If we bring the new wineskins, we can count upon Jesus to bring the wine.
- I once believed God needed to be worshipped in formal and traditional ways. Jesus long ago burst that “old wineskin.” Has Jesus ever burst any of your own parameters, limits, or expectations?
- What “new wineskin” could Jesus be asking you to provide for the “new wine” He wants to give to you? Could He be calling you to serve or think or act in new, different, or more expansive ways?
- Has the “new wine” of Jesus’ love and grace changed your life? If so, how? If not, have you been trying to put His new wine into your old heart and mind?