Summary: God is going to do a new thing. It won’t fit in our expectations, or in our rules.
36 He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ’The old is better.’" Luke 5:36-39 (NIV)
Context – Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees. They had been criticizing him:
- v 21… Who can forgive sins but God alone?
- v 30… Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?
- v 33… Why don’t your disciples fast as often as we do?
They had trouble understanding Jesus. He certainly did not fit into their pre-conceived notions of what Messiah looked like. That’s why they didn’t recognize him. And that’s why people today don’t recognize him. He simply doesn’t fit into the molds shaped by our education, our experience, our religion.
Jesus used two examples to illustrate why the Pharisees had a problem with him. And why we have a problem with him. You can’t use the new to patch the old. You can’t stuff the new into the old.
Why don’t you just wear the new shirt?
Wineskins in Jesus day were whole goatskins, sewed tightly shut where the neck, tail, and feet had been. Fresh wine was allowed to ferment in these for two to four months, until the fermenting process had stopped. The carbon dioxide gas generated by the fermentation process would stretch the skin to its limit. Job uses this analogy:
18 For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; 19 inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. Job 32:18-19 (NIV)
When the fermenting process stopped, the alcohol was at around 12%, and the collagen protein that gave the skin its elasticity had been stretched out and denatured by the alcohol. The skins had lost their ability to expand or contract.
Those listening to Jesus understood. If you tried to put new wine into an old skin, the gas released during the fermentation would cause the inflexible skin to burst, ruining both the skin and the wine.
God is always doing something new…
18 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
- He told Noah to build a boat, when it had never rained before.
- He told Abraham to leave his home, without telling him where to go
- He told Gideon to send all but 300 of his soldiers home just before attacking an army
- He told Elisha to throw a stick on the water to make an iron axe head swim to the surface
- He told Jehoshaphat to put the choir out in front of the soldiers when they attacked the enemy
God’s going to make a way in the desert, and streams in the wasteland. And he doesn’t need to borrow your backhoe or garden hose to do it! He’s going to do a new thing!
I wonder if someone can hear God saying today, “I’m doing a new thing – don’t you perceive it?” Maybe all you see is desert – a wasteland. But God is getting ready to make a highway. He’s getting ready to reveal a river. God is wanting to – he’s already started to – do a new thing in your life!
New Wine looking for a New Skin
In these passages Jesus is setting the tone for the New Testament. It’s not that the Old Testament was bad. Absolutely not! But he was saying that the Old Testament could no longer contain what the Spirit of the Old Testament was doing. It served its purpose, but according to Gal 4:4, when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his son… He did a new thing. It was time for a new covenant.
The Holy Spirit is God moving.
The Holy Spirit has always been at work in the world. People misunderstand the Holy Spirit. It defines God’s activity amongst his creation. It is the moving and speaking of God – that of God that we can actually detect. The word translated Spirit, in both the Hebrew and Greek, literally means breathe or wind. The Greek word is pneuma, where we get our word pneumatic. It is the power of air.