New wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
The Pharisees didn’t understand why Jesus hung out with sinners. Their goal was to separate themselves from the world and to avoid being contaminated by sinners. Why would Jesus spend so much time with sinners?
In Luke 5:33 they said to Jesus, “The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.” In other words, they were asking, “Jesus, we just don’t understand. You don’t obey our rules. We teach people to fast, and even the disciples of John did that. But Your disciples are always partying. Don’t You know religion is a sober affair and You are not supposed to have a good time? Why don’t You obey our rules?”
Jesus answered them with three illustrations. First, He used the illustration of a wedding. “Jesus said to them, ‘You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you?’” (v. 34). A Jewish wedding was a party that lasted an entire week. Jesus was saying, “My relationship with My followers is like a groom and his bride. The church is My bride. I am the groom, and as long as we are together, it ought to be a party.” You don’t mourn or fast when you are having a wedding–that doesn’t make any sense.
Jesus gave a second illustration of how the Pharisees’ regulations don’t mix with His teaching. Grace doesn’t match with legalism. So He uses the illustration of a garment. “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” (v. 36). You can’t rip a piece off a new suit and try to patch your old suit with it. That would be a foolish thing to do. You would ruin the new suit, and at the same time you would have pants that didn’t match. That’s exactly what Jesus is saying. You can’t match the Old Testament system of rules and regulations and the add-ons by the Pharisees with Jesus’s new message of grace. They don’t match each other.
In case the Pharisees still didn’t get the point, Jesus used a third illustration: wineskins. “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” (vv. 37-38). Wineskins were containers made of animal skins that people carried wine around in. When the wineskin was new it had a lot of elasticity, but the older it got the more brittle that wineskin became. You would not take an old, brittle wineskin and pour new wine into it. Why? Because that new wine, freshly fermented, had gases that would expand and burst the brittle wineskin, and you would lose the wine. You don’t put the new into the old. In the same way, Christ’s new message of grace doesn’t fit into the old message of laws and regulations.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Jesus and the Party Poopers” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.