Wine Skins

Posted on 10/07/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

Public Prayer Requests:

I'm having problems with my eyes. Due to fluctuating blood glucose levels, my vision keeps changing making it difficult to get glasses that work for me. I've also developed a serious astigmatism in my right eye, which was not there a year ago, and the doctors don't know why.
- StacyAnne Homewood

We could really use some prayers as I lost my dad Monday suddenly. We were race rivals and it feels so strange to watch a race and not be able to call and hear him gloat or complain. It still feels so unreal..
- Bladestryke Spearsong


*** listen to the audio for the introduction ***

Perhaps you've had the incredibly pleasant experience of getting into a discussion with someone who has already made up their mind about an issue; and even if there are Scriptures which clearly show they are mistaken, they would never in a million years admit to you or to themselves that they were wrong.

I know first hand how frustrating that can be, and I also know, from looking into my own past, that I've done the same thing before. And we probably all have to a greater or lesser degree. But I would like to encourage us all today to commit to complete spiritual and intellectual honesty, and that has been a personal policy I have tried very hard to follow.

Recently, I spoke about the sometimes controversial topic of Christians consuming alcohol. And I'm not recanting that point of view. After carefully considering all the Scriptures as a whole that mention wine, I'm quite convinced that, in moderation, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. For example, leaders in the church should not, according to the New Testament, be "given to much wine." In other words, they shouldn't get drunk.

And whether the wine they drank contained much less alcohol than today's wine, as some claim, is irrelevant. If that's true, then that would logically mean that, if someone could safely drink four glasses in that day of wine that was only 3% alcohol, then that same person could safely drink only one glass of today's wine that is 12%.

And of course if you choose to never drink, then you will never get drunk. That's obvious. But this isn't the topic of today's message. Not directly, anyway. The reason I said all that is because I used a passage of Scripture to support the consumption of wine in moderation, and that passage does not actually support it. Other passages do, so I wasn't teaching false doctrine; but whether or not the point you're making is true, I unintentionally misused Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine.

Let's just consider that event for a moment. Let's suppose that the people at the feast had drunk every drop of wine they had, and had, as the Bible says, "well drunk." Scripture is quite clear about the fact that getting drunk is a very big no-no -- it displeases God. So would it make sense that Jesus would, after people were already rather tipsy, provide the means for them to get drunk? You can answer that one for yourself.

It's important to understand what wine was back in those days. Was some wine fermented? Absolutely. Otherwise, the Bible would not forbid Church leaders to consume too much of it. And the Bible would not tell us to "not be drunk with wine," and Noah would not have gotten drunk by drinking the wine made from his vineyard.

But wine was not necessarily fermented. It was a common practice to boil grape juice until it became a thick, super-sweet syrup that could stay good for years without fermenting. This would then be diluted with water, similar to the grape juice you'd get in the store that's from concentrate.

Then there were other wines that were as low as 2 to 3% alcohol. Some sources say much of the fermented wine at that time was between 7 and 10% alcohol, which is barely below today's average. But, according to a few things we're about to consider, it makes more sense to assume that the wine Jesus made at the feast was fresh fruit of the vine. And it brings to light something else that at which we're going to take a look.

Let's read from the book of Luke, the fifth chapter, verses 33 through 39:

Luke 5:33-39 (NKJV)

33 Then they said to (Jesus), "Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?"

34 And He said to them, "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?
35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days."

36 Then He spoke a parable to them: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.
37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.
38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'"

And the title of today's message is "Wine Skins."

Let's take a closer look at this passage, and then we'll see how it sheds new light on the message Jesus was portraying with His first miracle at the wedding feast.

First, the people are questioning Jesus: "Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?"

And Jesus' answer was: "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days."

By itself, the meaning of this question and answer seems pretty clear. But then Jesus follows it up with a parable. And I'm pretty certain that Jesus did not have ADD. "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while.... SQUIRREL!"

No, Jesus had no problem with attention, and He didn't just pick things to say by random, like false Scripture such as the Gospel of Thomas would make you believe.

Instead, I believe the parable about the garmet and the wine skins related directly to the question about fasting. But not only fasting. Let's back up a few verses and read what happened before that question.

Verse 27:

27 After these things (Jesus) went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me."
28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.

29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.
30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, "Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"

31 Jesus answered and said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

Of course the next question they asked was why Jesus' disciples didn't fast like John's. And after Jesus answered both of those questions, He talked about the wine skins.

You see, the Scribes and the Pharisees, the great religious leaders of their day, were drunk on the way things had always been -- the "old wine" if you will. They were steeped in traditions, many of them man-made. And they were so intoxicated with the way things had always been, that the "new wine" seemed unappealing to them.

As Jesus said in verse 39, "no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'"

Now, while everything Jesus said was symbolized in the Law and the Prophets, understanding the spiritual significance of those things required a new way of looking at them. It required an understanding of what Jesus was about to do, which was to shed His blood, the new wine of the new covenant. And their old wine skins, their old way of seeing things, couldn't hold the new wine that Jesus was pouring.

And here's where this fits in with His miracle at the wedding feast.

John 2:1-11 (NKJV)

1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.
3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."

4 Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

5 His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."

6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.
7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it.
9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.
10 And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"

11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

Do you see the parallel there? In the parable about the wine skins, Jesus said that after someone has been drinking old wine thinks it's better than the new. But did that mean that no one who had been living under the Old Covenant could accept the New? Obviously not. For here again, there was wine. It might have been old, or it might have been new. We just know it wasn't as good as what Jesus made.

Here's a quote from the website:

"The wine Christ mad was of high quality, not because of its alcohol content, but because it was 'new wine, freshly created.' It was not old, decayed wine... There was no time for the fermentation process to break down the structure of its energy-giving sugars into disintegrative alcohols. It thus was a fitting representation of His glory and was appropriate to serve as the very first of His great miracles."

So the first miracle Jesus performed was a representation of His glory. And it was also a representation of His blood, which represented and sealed the New Covenant -- the new wine which must be put into new wine skins -- a wine which is fresh and new, and which the person drunk on the old ways of seeing things, the old man-made traditions, and the old legalistic ways of thinking you're right with God without have a living relationship with Him -- the person drunk on THOSE things does not want what Jesus offers, and his wine skin is not flexible enough to contain it.

And that's what happens when we hold on to man-made traditions, or beliefs and ideas that don't come from Scripture, or a dead, dry religious form devoid of the new wine of a personal, intimate, living relationship with God. When we hold onto those old things, we become intoxicated by them, and we don't want what God is offering us today. We become stretched out and brittle; and if we experience anything from God, it leaks out and doesn't do us or anyone else any good.

So what is the answer? Well, an old wine skin can't be fixed. At least not by us. It's impossible for man. But for God, ALL things are possible.

Just cry out to Jesus! And as Mariposa shared with us last week, when you cry out to Jesus, He will do whatever it takes to break through the things that are standing in between Him and you.

Is it just me, or do you ever feel as though you've gotten stuck in a rut? Thinks never change simply because they always stay the same. You might have known in the past or know somewhere deep down inside that you need to change certain things you do or you don't do, or you need to step out in a new direction, or do something that's outside of your comfort zone, but you don't seem to be able to motivate yourself to do so.

Well guess what. It's because you're drunk. Drunk on the old wine. And unable to get excited about the new.

And I think we all tend to get stretched over time, comfortable with memories of times past and with our own stagnating relationship with God. And I think we all tend to get a bit hard and brittle, so that it's very difficult for us to accept when we've been wrong, or to be shaped by the hand of the Master.

But Jesus makes all things new. He is the King of renewal, the Agent of change, the Deliverer of fresh direction, and the Mediator of that which is Always New.

All you need to do is to call out to Him. First, make up your mind that you will break out of your slumber, that you will arise from your drunken stupor, and you will leave it behind; then call out to Jesus: "Jesus, I'm coming after you! And I won't rest until I have seen you face to face!"

That's the kind of passion He's seeking. That's the kind of love we wants from you and from me. And when we take the first real step, He will take His God-sized leap, and He will give you the strength and the wisdom you need to make it all the way through.

Let's close today's service with a time of prayer, ministry, and worship. And as we take a few minutes to seek after God, let's ask Him to renew our hearts -- our wine skins -- and to sober us up, so that we can be filled with His new wine, with His streams of living water, and with a fresh wind of His Holy Spirit.

You're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front, and let's see for renewal today.

Lord God, we thank you for speaking to us today. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning; the wine of your New Covenant with us, a Covenant centered around a real relationship of unbroken fellowship with you, this wine is new and living. We ask that you wake us up from the drunkenness of complacency, from being so full of and satisfied with yesterday and with ritual, that we cannot draw as close to you as you desire.

I ask that the seed of your word today would take root and grow into something that will change our lives forever, and that will give glory and honor to you.

And it's in the name and authority of Jesus we pray.