“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” (Mark 2:22). Jesus draws from this illustration because the Jew was familiar with winemaking (see John 2:1-11) and could tell the difference between “poor wine” and “good wine”.
In this illustration, Jesus is comparing wineskins to the failure of the old Jewish religious system of demand and law, to receiving and containing the new gospel of grace which He brought. From a practical perspective, fermentation of new wine would build pressure in the old wineskin and will burst, losing all the wine. We can liken this new wine to the power and joy in Christ that is given through the Holy Spirit. Religious rituals and forms are like the old wineskins. They cannot contain the fresh work of God in a believer.
It is interesting that Jesus points to both the old wineskin and the new wine being “destroyed” if they are put together. We must not conclude from this statement that we can do anything to destroy the gospel. What is destroyed is the effect of the gospel in me if I try to combine it with old tradition and forms that work against the freedom we have in Christ (Galatians 5:1). The flesh and human will, man’s methods and ways, hinder and quench the work of the Spirit.
No wonder Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5–6). This must take place before you are able to hold the “new wine” in your “jar of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
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