Monday, February 3, 2014

Part 2:The Wineskins (Luke 5:36-39)

And He was also telling them a parable: "No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 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 5:36-39 NASB)

Wineskins are also referred to as bota bags. The process is interesting and, until you understand how the wineskins are made, you can't really understand this verse. When an animal, in this case a goat, was slaughtered, nothing was wasted. The skin was tanned and used for variety of projects. One project might be to make a wineskin. Two pieces of the tanned leather were cut to shape and fitted together. Using an awl, tiny holes were punched all around the leather and cord or thin strips of leather were used to stitch the two sides together. Pitch (tree resin) was used  to coat the inside of the bag to seal it. The goat bladder (cleaned and secured at one end) would be carefully inserted into the mouth opening, and a piece of horn would be used as a mouthpiece. 

The bag, once made, had to be matured. As I understand it, there was an important step between the pitch coating and the bladder insertion. New wine was used to finish the bag. The newest wine was needed. Ideally, wine that had just begun to ferment would be used. As the carbon dioxide was released in the fermenting process, the gas would cause the bag to stretch and expand. While the pitch made it waterproof, the new wine made it flexible. The new wine also absorbed the taste and odor of the pitch, and was discarded after the bag was matured. Once matured, the bag would no longer be used for new wine. It was ready to perform the service for which it was made - to carry the fully fermented wine. In essence, the new wine made way for the mature wine because it made a secure place for the mature wine to be carried.

Jesus was not saying that He had come to discard the old wine, nor that the new wine was better. Remember these verses immediately follow the discussion about why His disciples didn't fast. Matthew Henry suggests two possibilities. The first is that He was teaching His disciples a new way to experience their faith (new wine in flexible wineskins). There would come a time when more mature wine and greater discipline was appropriate but for now, the new wine experience was needed. 

Have you had a "new wine" experience with Christ recently? Have you experienced the expansion and sparkle of fresh wine in your faith walk? This exciting time was part of what drew people to Jesus, and it still draws people today. 

Pray today for a "new wine" faith experience for us as well as for our loved ones. Pray that our faith will be expanded and that the sweet aroma of Christ would be released to those around us.