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)
There was a reason Jesus told this parable following the discussion about why his disciples were not fasting. When Jesus arrived, the Jewish religion was " established". There was the law as well as the countless other rules and regulations that had been added to "explain" the law. The whole business had become bulky and rigid. It wasn't about faith anymore. It was mostly about rules. There were people who found faith in the midst of the rules, but the rules predominated.
Jesus came and clarified religion for us. Our religion, our righteousness was to be by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Radical! Jesus cut the entire law down to two brief sentences. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. This faith was based on relationship with the Almighty rather than rules that could be mindlessly followed.
When you have a series of rules to follow, but not a relationship, it becomes a stiff, inflexible kind of religion. A religion based on love and faith is completely different. There is room to grow and expand.
What does this have to do with wine and wine skins? Wine skins were made from goat skin and lined with goat bladder. The bladder is obviously designed for holding liquid. If one end is secured, it becomes an excellent receptacle. Because it is fragile, the bladder would be protected by an outer covering of tanned skin.
New wineskins are flexible until the tanning process is complete. An old wine skin is stiff and strong with age, but not flexible at all. Jesus was comparing the Jewish religious structure to the old stiff wineskin. No longer flexible or able to expand. He was suggesting that flexibility was needed. More on this tomorrow as we talk about the wine in those wine skins.
When you've done something a while, whether in work or religion, it is easy to become "set in your ways". It is also easy to become so "set" that you become rigid and unbending. How about our faith? Are we doing the same thing day after day or experiencing Christ in a new, fresh way on a daily basis?
Pray today that we will have a fresh encounter with our Lord and that He will surround our loved ones with those who also experience Christ with a fresh, ever growing and expanding faith. Pray, too, that they will desire that faith for themselves.