Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
I’ve pondered this passage of scripture several times in the past, especially the logical connection between verses 19-20 and 21-22. How does Jesus make the jump from bridegrooms and fasting to old clothes and wineskins versus new? At the first (or in my case fourth and fifth) glance there doesn’t seem to be much to connect the two. Maybe Jesus was just really scatter-brained and random, or perhaps he was looking to throw the Pharisees off his track by distracting oratorical techniques. However, after a bit of prayer and meditation on this passage this morning, I think I see some of the connection here.
In verse 20 Jesus speaks of the bridegroom leaving and the followers fasting. The thought of him leaving earth, I believe, is a train of thought which he continues on and begins to speak about will happen after he has ascended. And what does the Savior tell his disciples will happen after he has left? That he would send them what the Father had promised, saying, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).
This leads him to speak verses 21-22;
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.
In doing so he gives an analogy of the renewal and new life of all who recieve the Spirit. Just as new wine cannot be poured into old wine skins for fear of them bursting, so the newness of the Spirit of God cannot be poured into the old, earthly container of the fallen, fleshly man. God will only pour “new wine into new wineskins.” And we can trust that the new wine from God will be much sweeter than the old, earthly drinks we attempt to satisfy ourselves with. (John 2:8-10)
As Romans 7:6 says, “we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” Because as Mark 2:21 declares, the new clothing, the “garments of salvation” (Isaiah 61:10), will not stick hold to the old letter of the law. No, it must be a completely new garment that we are covered with.
Again, it is not be the letter of the law that a man is saved. It is through a man’s death in Christ and his renewal and rebirth as a new wineskin; as a man with a new arrayal of clothing, that he is saved. The Spirit is a seal and an assurance of our salvation, filling us with the wine of the blood of Christ that is pleasing to God.
I exhort you, brothers and sisters, to seek such newness. If you now attempt to yet live through the word of the law, cease your striving! It is “not by works, so that no man can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Instead, embrace the casting away of the old garments and old wineskins. Join with Christ through faith in His death and take upon yourself a new life, thereby allowing God to fill you with the new wine of the Spirit.
What a glorious thing that God has done! We have been saved and made new, as is testified by the prophets, the apostles, and even Christ Himself. Revel at that though and rejoice, my friends, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls, and it is a salvation that is much more glorious than anything that the old man, the old wine, could offer!