For hundreds of years, the coming of the messiah was prophesied to mean that God would be doing a new thing in the world. Yes, it would be a fulfillment of the old, but fundamentally the messiah was ushering in something new–a new era, a new age, a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15), a “new heaven and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17; Rev. 21:1). God is moving towards the time when Jesus makes “all things NEW.” But new is different, and different can be difficult. Change of thought and action can be hard.
Jesus clashes constantly with those around him, especially religious leaders, who cannot accept the new things Jesus ushers in. In Mk 2, Jesus is confronted about the fact that John the baptist’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Jesus’ disciples do not. That’s the presenting issue. The real issue is that once again, Jesus is doing and teaching a new thing, so Jesus uses several illustrations to explain what he’s up to, including a description of wine and wineskins.
“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Mk. 2:22). New wine is still fermenting, which means gases cause expansion. An old wineskin has lost it’s flexibility, but a new wineskin can still flex to accommodate the new wine.
The religious leaders repeatedly showed an inability to stretch to accept Jesus’ new teachings and actions. The question for us is: What kind of vessels will we be? Will we be humble enough to recognize that we all have a long ways to go-in our actions and our understanding? Will we be open enough to keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking? Will we be flexible enough that when the new wine of Jesus is poured into us, our faith doesn’t burst, but rather our hearts and lives and love expands?