33 Some people said to Jesus, “The disciples of John fast often and pray frequently. The disciples of the Pharisees do the same, but your disciples are always eating and drinking.”
34 Jesus replied, “You can’t make the wedding guests fast while the groom is with them, can you? 35 The days will come when the groom will be taken from them, and then they will fast.”
36 Then he told them a parable. “No one tears a patch from a new garment to patch an old garment. Otherwise, the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t match the old garment. 37 Nobody pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the new wine would burst the wineskins, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. 38 Instead, new wine must be put into new wineskins. 39 No one who drinks a well-aged wine wants new wine, but says, ‘The well-aged wine is better.’”
Wine makers today have different, more durable containers. In Bible times, “people employed animal skins, most often goatskins, as containers for fluids. Wine expands as it ferments; fermenting wine had already expanded old wineskins to their limit, so still-expanding new wine would rupture them.”* Jesus used the image to tell religious leaders who complained about him spending time with people they saw as “sinners” that his kingdom could not be contained or restrained by their rules and habits.
- Scholar N. T. Wright wrote that Jesus “explains what he’s doing, to the grumblers, with what we today would call a Mission Statement… his job is to call sinners to repentance. No longer are people to be placed in two categories… this new age is the time of forgiveness…. This is the new covenant spoken of by the prophets; forgiveness is here…. Never mind if it upsets the tidy classifications of the old system.”** Do too many religious people still place people in two tidy categories? How can you avoid doing that?
- Scholar William Barclay noted a related idea. “‘Don’t,’ says Jesus, ‘let your mind become like an old wineskin. People say of wine, ‘The old is better.’ It may be at the moment, but they forget that it is a mistake to despise the new wine, for the day will come when it has matured and it will be best of all.’ The passage is Jesus’ condemnation of the shut mind and a plea that men should not reject new ideas.”*** What helps you stay open to new ideas—not to blindly accept them, but not to reject them just because they’re new either?
Lord Jesus, I thirst for your new “wine” with its life-giving properties. Do not let my thoughts and actions grow hardened and inflexible. Keep me open to whatever you want to do now. Amen.
* HarperCollins Christian Publishing. NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Kindle Locations 232761-232763). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** Wright, Tom. Luke for Everyone (New Testament for Everyone) (p. 64). SPCK. Kindle Edition.
*** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, comment on Luke 5:36.
Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.