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New Wine, New Wineskins, New Cloth, and Old Wine
“In times past God spoke through the prophets… in these last days through His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1)
Luke 5:36-39 (36) And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. (37) And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. (38) But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. (KJV)
What was the situation that Jesus was addressing when He told these four parables?
Jesus tells four parables in response to two questions. In Matthew 9:9 Jesus calls Mathew to be a disciple (“come follow me”), and the Bible tells us that Matthew got up and followed Him. Matthew was very excited about Jesus calling him. He wanted his friends to meet Jesus and experience the same thing. He threw a feast to celebrate and invited all his old friends to come and meet Jesus. The Bible then states that Jesus was having dinner with other tax collectors and sinners at Matthew’s house when the Pharisees asked, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?
On hearing this question Jesus responds by stating that he did not come to the healthy (self-righteousness) but to the sick (sinners). Sickness is a picture of sin. He said that He did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Those who suppose their souls to be without disease will not welcome the spiritual Physician. This was the case with the Pharisees; they despised Christ, because they thought themselves whole; but the poor publicans and sinners felt that they wanted instruction and healing forgiveness. Jesus was trying to tell the Pharisees that none were righteous (Rom 3:10) not even them, yet they did not hear (understand). There are two types of patients that Jesus cannot heal. They are the ones who will not agree that they are sick and those who will not trust Him for the cure. Jesus then tells His hearers, “go and learn” what it means when He says “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”
These complaints can about because the Pharisees and scribes had a misunderstanding about how God viewed sinners. The Pharisees and scribes believed that God hated the sinners and publicans and therefore would have nothing to do with them. Throughout Jesus’ ministry on earth, He keeps stating that He came to seek and save the lost. In other words the spiritual sick are the ones that need a physician.
Another misunderstanding was that the Pharisees and scribes believed that the people who had wealth were being blessed by God because of their righteousness. By fellowshipping and reaching out the sinner and poor, Jesus were trying to show them that God loved everyone including sinners and that worldly blessings were not directly tied to ones righteousness.
Then John’s disciples ask Him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Then Jesus answers John’s disciples with the same three parables (parabolic expressions) in Matthew (9:15-17), Mark (2:19-22), and Luke (5:34-38) and then in Luke adds a four parable, “And no one after drinking old wine wants the new for he says the old is better.” I believe that all four of these parables are an answer to the two questions:
“Why does your teacher eat with Tax collectors” and “”How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
In fact Jesus responds with four parables to address these two questions. As we study the parables we will see that it is not uncommon for Jesus to use more than one parable to address a situation, attitude, or question. It is no different when we use more than one illustration trying to communicate a point.
The Bible tells us that John was the last of the Old Covenant prophets. Hebrews 1:1 states, “that in times past God spoke through prophets, but now in these last days God was speaking through His Son Jesus.” Jesus also tells us in Luke 22:20 when He initiated the Lord’s supper, “this cup is the New Covenant, which is my blood shed for you.” In these four parables we see that Jesus is the Bridegroom! He is the new wine!
These four parables also explain His mission of establishing the “kingdom of Heaven”. In these four parabolic expressions we see the gospel unfold. It is as if Jesus made a sandwich with these parables. The first parable is about is the prophecy of both his going to the cross (taken away) and of His return (bridegroom) (fulfillment of Old Testament). The last parable is about His reject by the Jews. The middle two, New Wineskins and New Cloth are about the (new) Kingdom He has come to establish (the church age). The Old Wineskins and Old Cloth represent the Old Covenant.
These four parables are almost like a sandwich, the meat (New Covenant) being the middle two parables surrounded by the prophecy of His coming and the rejection by the Jews.
The first parable about bridegroom proclaims that the Messiah is here. The next two parables reveal what the Messiah was to do. Jesus was going to do away with the old system and replace it with something new, something better. The old system cannot contain it. Yet since God is all knowing the fourth parable of the Old Wine shows that the Jews would prefer the Old and reject Christ.
Jesus used images familiar to his audience, one of patching clothes and the other of making wine. In Jesus’ times, wine was stored in wineskins, not bottles. Wineskins were actually the skins of sheep and goats that were sewn together except at the neck, which served as the neck of the container. The skins were filled, and the neck then sewn closed. New wine poured into skins was still fermenting which produces gas (carbon dioxide). The gases exerted gave pressure. New wineskins were elastic enough to take the pressure, but old wine skins easily burst because they were hard. Old skins would not work, since they had already been stretched and were no longer elastic. Therefore one must use new wineskins for new wine.
In these two short parables Jesus is reminding us of rules of common sense. If New Cloth is used to repair an Old Garment, the new patch tries to shrink when washed while the old garment will not shrink; therefore the new patch will tear away from the old garment.
The people of Jesus day were also very familiar with the fact that new cloth shrank and would pull away when washed if it was sowed to an old garment. I have no experience with making wine, but I understand pressure exerted by a gas. We have all seen a balloon stretch as it is being inflated and sometimes one will burst under the pressure as it inflates. But I do have first hand knowledge of clothes being patched. As a young person I sometimes wore patched clothes and I have seen new patches pull away as they are washed and the fabric shrinks.
In Biblical times, wine was put in wineskins (leather bottles). These new wineskins could expand as the wine fermented and gave of gas. Old wineskins that he previously stretched and dried could no longer stretch and would burst as the wine fermented. The same concept holds true for a patch of new cloth on an old garment. The new cloth would shrink when washed tearing the garment even further.
Jesus tells these parables as analogies to teach that the gospel of Christ (New Covenant) is radical, life changing, and demands certain changes in the way man approaches God. For example Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be “born again” to enter the kingdom. The Bible also tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone belongs to Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold all things are new.” In Romans 12:1-2 the Bible tells us that we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. That we are not to be conformed to this world but be transformed into the image of Christ.
What did Jesus mean by this comparison? What are the old garment and the new garment symbolizing? What are the new wine and the old wineskins symbolizing? The old garment and old wineskin are Judaism (Old Covenant). The new garment and new wine are Christianity (New Covenant). Jesus did not come into my life to patch up the old man and just give me a new lifestyle. He came to give me a whole new life. He came to give me a new way to approach God. Man no longer had to approach God through a Priest and offer a sacrifice. After Jesus death the Bible tells us the veil between the Holy and Holy of Holies was ripped. Believers now had direct access to God the father.
The Jewish leaders (Pharisees and scribes) were like old wineskins; they were hardened by centuries of rituals and traditions. Jesus tells them in Luke 7:9 that they ignore the commands of God while following their own traditions.
Jesus’ sacrifice, his death on the cross, does away (completes / fulfills) with the Old Testament sacrificial system. The sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament was a type of the real sacrifice of Jesus. The comparison of the Old and New is a comparison of the Old and New Covenant Period. This is a comparison of Israel to the Church, etc.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18, NI V).
Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies. In fact, much of the Old Testament has been fulfilled, and is fittingly described as the “old garment.” Much of the Old Covenant is a type of the New Covenant. For example, the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant is a type of Jesus’ one sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus died on the cross for our salvation and for the salvation of the Old Testament saints. No one can save himself or keep himself saved. The Old Testament saints were made righteous or Justified by Faith, the same way people are justified today. The Bible teaches that the original intent of the Law was to point one to Christ.
Let us respect both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Nothing God does is faulty. The fault (perceived fault) was with Israel, not the Old Covenant. They did not understand or obey. God was patient and gave them a fuller revelation. The Old covenant could be considered a type, shadow, or pattern of the real. Jesus was/is the real. Every thing in the Old pointed/promised the Messiah! However, we must carefully interpret the Old Testament in the light of New Testament teachings. Jesus, who inspired both the Old and New Testaments, is the key to interpreting both.
In these parables we see His presence, His purpose and His position (either accepted of rejected). Jesus is the New Wine. Those who reject Him fulfil the prophecy shown in the last of these four parables. Those who taste of the wine will prefer it to the new. Jesus is foretelling that the Jews would reject the new covenant and prefer the old.
I. His presence – His first coming as a suffering servant – not earthly king
No one will fast while Bridegroom is with them. You fast after He is taken away.
The disciples of John the Baptist were upset with Jesus’ disciples because they did not fast. Fasting was one of the three most important religious duties, along with prayer and
almsgiving. When asked why His disciples did not fast, Jesus gave a simple explanation that there’s a time for fasting and a time for feasting (or celebrating). Jesus said that you did not fast at a wedding party. A wedding is a time of rejoicing and celebration. Marriage starts with love and ends in joy. To walk as a disciple with Jesus is to experience a whole new joy of relationship akin to the joy of the wedding party in celebrating with the groom and bride their wedding bliss. A wedding was a time of joy and celebration. You could fast after the wedding. Marriage is a love relationship and so is salvation. They both start with love and end in commitment (I will). The Christians’ life should be like a wedding party and not like a funeral.
But then Jesus goes on to expose the two-fold nature of His coming. In this short parable there is reference to Him being the Messiah, His death, and His 2nd coming. This is a split prophecy. If we look closely we can see the split nature of many of the prophecies of the coming Messiah. The period between the first and 2nd coming is the church age (the kingdom of God) which is part of the mystery that has been concealed. During this church (after he is taken) there is a place for fasting!
Jesus was pointing out to John’s disciples that He was the promised Messiah (the bridegroom). So while He was with His disciples was a time of celebration, but a time would come (when He would be taken). Then would be the time of fasting.
But there also comes a time when the Lord’s disciples must bear the cross of affliction and purification. For the disciple there is both a time for rejoicing in the Lord’s presence and celebrating his goodness and a time for seeking the Lord with humility and fasting and for mourning over sin. Do you take joy in the Lord’s presence with you and do you express sorrow and contrition for your sins? There will be times like David where we must express sorrow and contrition for your sins. Fasting was one a very important part of the Jewish religion. It was one of the three most important religious duties, along with prayer and almsgiving.
This is a picture of Christ’s three year earthly ministry and then His being taken to the cross (taken). It is also a picture of His return as the Bridegroom for the Church (2nd coming).
Christ came for no other reason than to bring God’s kingdom to men. His very first public words are exactly those of his forerunner, John the Baptist: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2, 4:17).
In Luke 4:18-19 we see Jesus referencing why He came. He quotes from Isaiah 61:1-3. But notice that Jesus stops in mid verse of Isaiah 61:2. He does not mention the day of wrath. This is a split prophecy. In other words there are two comings of Christ. One as the suffering savior for our sins, the other as king of Kings, and Lord of Lords! The Jews missed His first coming, His role, as suffering Savior is their stumbling block. They refuse to acknowledge their need for a savior a substitute. They feel they can earn their salvation.
His work was finished on the cross. He tells the disciples that he must go away and He would send a comforter. This comforter would lead them to all truth. As He told Nicodemus in John chapter three we must be “born again”. This is what happened at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came and the church age (the kingdom) was initiated. This age will be completed when Christ comes again.
He wants our minds and hearts to be like the new wineskins, open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Are you eager to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word and plan for your life?
This new wine (New Covenant) is mentioned in Jeremiah 31:
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (31) Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: (32) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: (33) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (34) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (KJV)
In Hebrews chapter 8 we see the writer of Hebrews showing that the Old Covenant was a copy, shadow, example, or pattern for the New. Christ is the New. The Old foretold of His coming! He is the “better promise”, the “better covenant” (Heb 8:6). The Old Covenant was replaced because the Jews were not faithful to it (Heb 8:9). In God’s patient He sent a complete revelation, Jesus Himself, the promised Messiah!
Hebrews 1:1 states that in times past God spoke through prophets, but now He was speaking through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus was that “Lamb” slain before the foundation of the world to reconcile man back to God. He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises of a redeemer. Christ is the new covenant!
The Lord’s supper in Luke 22:20 is another way of looking at the New Covenant. Jesus, during the Last Supper, spoke of a new covenant, which is indeed new and not merely an improved extension of the old. (Luke 22:20) In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” How is the new covenant different from the old? The new covenant is a once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin while the old covenant requires repeated sacrifice for sins. When Jesus spoke of the new covenant, He was referring to His blood as shed for the forgiveness of our sins in place of the old covenant which simply uses the blood of animals. The old covenant required repeated sacrifice for sin and shedding of blood before God would provide for the forgiveness of the people’s sins. When Christ died for our sins, He paid for its debt and satisfied God’s divine justice completely. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
When Christ died for our sins, He paid for its debt and satisfied God’s divine justice completely. There is no need for us to continually offer sacrifices for our sins by punishing ourselves. Hebrews 10:14 because by one sacrifice he (ie Jesus) has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (NIV) Hebrews 9:28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (NIV)
John 19:30 (NIV) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Hebrews 10:14 tells us that “The new covenant promises were completed in Jesus’ sacrifice for sin at Calvary.”
In the Pharisee we see a conformer. Wanting status quo. In John the Baptist we see a reformer telling those who heard repent the kingdom is at hand. In Jesus we have a transformer. One who transforms us from one under the Old Covenant to one under the new covenant.
The above is part one of a two part message on the initiation of the New Covenant by the blood of Jesus. Part two continues the explanation of the four parables mentioned above,
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