Today’s Reading: Matthew 9:1-17 (additional reading: Psalm 10:16-18 & Proverbs 3:9-10)
My Grandfather didn’t believe in buy anything new if the old one could be fixed. It is great to be able to fix things up and great satisfaction in repairing something but sometimes there is the need to trade in the old for the new. There are only so many patches you can put on a pair of trousers before your trousers are made from patches.
In our text today Jesus is explaining a similar principle to the Pharisees. Sometimes it is necessary that a change is made. This was the case with the spiritual need of mankind. Jesus came to provide the world with something brand new.
Jesus saw something that these people in particular and that the world, in general, was in greater need of than religious traditions. Jesus saw discouraged people all around him who was carrying the weight of poor health or a load of unforgiven sin. Rather than focus on sobriety, Jesus decided to extend the celebration of his coming Kingdom to those who least expected or deserved it; and it was met with opposition by the religious establishment.
Wine was the most common drink for people in Palestine. They never had a bottling company or refrigeration like we have today. But fortunately, the wine was less likely than water or milk to be contaminated as its alcohol content killed germs. Along with this, they had leak-resistant animal skins that could be processed and treated in such a way that they could expand and stretch along with the new wine as it fermented. Wineskins were bags made of skin or leather, usually a goat hide tied at the legs and the neck. After the flesh and bones were removed from the inside of the goat the skin was tanned over fires of acacia wood. Then the openings were sewn shut, the neck of the goat was used for the spout, and unfermented grape juice was poured in. Afterwards the neck was sewn shut and the fermentation process began. As the new wine fermented and expanded, it would stretch the new wineskins. Putting new (unfermented) wine in old wineskins, which had already been stretched and somewhat dried out, would result in the bursting of the wineskins. Old wineskins become brittle and rigid with age; when new wine is put in these, gases build up–produce pressure and Bang! You’ve ruined your wine and your wineskin.
The meaning of the saying new wine into new wineskins is that the presence and teaching of Jesus was something new and signalled the passing of the old. Jesus could not patch or pour His new ministry into old traditions. Judaism had become inflexible due to the accumulation of centuries of non-biblical traditions. Furthermore, Jesus did not come to reform an old and worn out system but to fulfil or complete it and then introduce something radically new. For example, He Himself would be the ultimate sacrifice for sin, so the sacrificial system would no longer be necessary. Can you imagine still sacrificing goats and bulls when Jesus has paid the price for our sins? The Pharisees liked the old way better. They didn’t want to let loose of the old way. Ever met anybody like that?
God has a new thing He wants to do. We must be willing to make the changes and stretch with new ideas. It’s time for you to trade-in. Stop doing things our way, and start doing them God’s way. You’ve been driving that way of life for a long time. I believe God wants us to experience some new wine.
How do you react to change?
Father, Thank You that when you introduce change into our lives it is always for the better. Help us to overcome the fear of new things, but to praise You for all Your work. In Jesus’ name, Amen