Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Wineskins, New Wine

Luke 5:37-39 NLT  "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins.  (38)  New wine must be stored in new wineskins.  (39)  But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. 'The old is just fine,' they say." 

The fifth chapter of Luke portrays the beginning phase of Jesus earthly ministry. You see him calling known sinners into his close company. Peter explains that he is too sinful to be with such a man as Jesus after the fishing miracle. Jesus tells him that he plans to make Peter a fisher of people, and he and his friends immediately follow him to take up their new vocation. They are in fact New Wineskins. The Pharisees who determined that Jesus could not be the Messiah based upon their reading of the law (John 7:47-49) were the old wineskins, and their doctrine teaching was the old wine.

I find it interesting that Jesus first miracle, at the wedding at Cana, was to turn water into wine. Look at this part of the passage: (John 2:9-10 ESV)  When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over.  (10)  "A host always serves the best wine first," he said. "Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!" I used to wonder why Jesus turned water into wine… I could not make the connection, but realizing that the new wine was a metaphor for the new covenant and the gospel this miracle took on deepened meaning. God had saved the best for last.

Actually, wineskins are a metaphor for both individuals and assemblies. Each person who has the gospel of Christ within them is a container of the new wine, and likewise, whole assemblies are likewise a container for the new wine. So then, in the first century this parable was prophetic of the new covenant.

If we fast forward to now this passage has another application. Jesus warned in Matthew 16:6&12 that the church (the new wineskin) would be leavened with the leaven of the Pharisees. In other words, the church would adopt a mixture of old covenant and new covenant that really became a different gospel altogether. So then, today, the new wine is the pristine gospel and the new wineskins are those who are able to receive the pristine gospel of grace. I find it prophetic that Jesus said that not many who have drank the old wine desires the new… in fact they say that the old is better.

This is one of the things that makes it so difficult for people to receive the pristine gospel of grace. It amazes me how many people try to put down and explain away imputed righteousness and forensic justification. They claim that God does not declare anyone righteous based upon their faith in Christ alone. When you think about it, Paul would have declared that a heresy.

So then, how can old wineskins be made new? I have been told that one could soak the old wineskin in the proper mixture of water and oil and renew elasticity to the wineskin. It could once again expand with the new wine fermenting without bursting. To use the metaphor for now… the answer to this situation is to get a fresh anointing of the water of life. This will make the old wineskin able to receive the new wine with joy.

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