"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved." — Matthew 9:17
In 1965, Keith Miller wrote a book called The Taste Of New Wine. It was a call for Christian renewal in the home, the office, and the church. It pleaded against the compartmentalization of the Christian faith, where the average believer was one person in church and a totally different person at home and at work. The new wine of Christ should produce a new person in Christ.
In this context, Jesus is speaking a parable to his hearers and the setting for his words is at a dinner party in the home of Matthew, a former tax collector and his new disciple.
In his new excitement, Matthew invited his tax collector friends, some Pharisees and other teachers of the law to join the celebration. He wanted to reach them all. There was lots of food and wine. Now we all know that wine is made from grapes, which were an important crop in the life of Israel, and had been for centuries — still is. In fact, God's word is filled with references to grapes, wine and wine presses.
When grapes were harvested, they were taken to a winepress where they were crushed. The juice run-off was placed in jars and then into wineskins for easier portability and storage. The new wine was never put into old wineskins because the old leather goatskins they used had become hard and brittle, with no elasticity. When fermentation began with the new juice, the old skins would split open and the wine would spill out.
What is Jesus saying in the concluding remarks of this parable? The central truth is that Jesus is the new wine. When we came to know him, we were old wineskins full of the cheap juice of the world. Had you held on to your old ways, while tasting the new wine, it would have leaked out and had no effect. To many believers today, that's what has happened to their faith. They cling to the old ways, while sampling the new. But Christianity is not a wine tasting event!
In closing this parable, Jesus says that some will like the old wine so much that they will have no interest in new wine any longer. How sad. What started out as a great banquet with Jesus, and delicious new wine, could end with our drinking the old sour stuff again from a crusty old wineskin. Friends, don't let that be you. The Apostle Paul reminds us who we are in Jesus:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
— 2 Corinthians 5:17
So my friends, let Jesus fill you with His new wine and take the dryness and crust away in your life. It will brighten your day and it will taste so good that you'll want to have a real party.