Jesus told this parable immediately following the New Cloth Parable in Chapter 28. Therefore, to put this message in context, make sure you read the previous chapter. There, He warned His audience about the folly of putting a new patch on an old garment. Scripture says: “No one puts a piece of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment and the tear is made worse” (v. 16).
Essentially, the new cloth represents the fact that you cannot mix the New Covenant of grace and salvation with the Old Covenant Law. If you are a Christian, you should live in freedom and liberty: you should live to follow the desires and directions of the Holy Spirit, which are to be done in love, and not by a set of rules.
The parable of the new wine is found in verse 17 and it says: “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined but they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.”
It may take a Christian many years before understanding the difference between Law and Grace. If I had received revelation of it years ago, my life would have been very different. For in order to understand this parable, you have to have been opened to its context and the meanings that underscore it.
Now, wine is mentioned in the Bible a number of times. It is spoken of in the life of Jesus. In fact, the first miracle that Jesus performed was to turn the dirty water that many wedding guests had washed themselves with, into fresh wine. He not only turned this polluted water into fresh wine, but the Scripture says that it was the “best” wine! (You can read the full the account of this miracle in the Bible - John 2:1-11)
Jesus was a guest at a Jewish wedding. A wedding feast could continue for up to a week in those days, so people expected to drink plenty of wine. The wine eventually ran out and at His mother’s request, Jesus performed this miracle, somewhat reluctantly because He felt His time hadn’t come to publicly minister. The embarrassment of the host and his mother’s pleas caused Him to rectify the problem in this surprising manner.
So, most of the guests at the wedding feast would have been fairly drunk at this stage. When the host of the feast tasted that “special” new wine, he said it was the best wine! He felt that the servants should have presented it to the bridal party and to the guests much earlier, before they had become intoxicated. That was the normal procedure at wedding feasts.
Firstly, as I have already stated, the people were already inebriated when Jesus brought the new wine made from dirty washing water. There is much imagery in this miracle.
Secondly and more importantly: Jesus can take our dirty water—our dirty life—our life full of sin and hopelessness; shame and guilt—and in an instant, He can turn it into a life filled with joy, peace and love of the Lord. We can bubble up with such a feeling as though we were drunk. Jesus can take our sins, our sadness and all the things that come against us in the normal, day-to-day routine of life. He can take all your inner junk and turn it into the new wine of His Spirit.
Now the passage says, “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined” (v.17).
Your life is precious to God. He wants you to be whole. He doesn’t want your life to be like a ruined wineskin. He does not want your life to burst like the wineskin did in this parable. The only way your life’s wineskin is going to burst and be destroyed, is if you mix the new wine, the New Covenant teaching of Jesus, with the Old Covenant Law.
As I said, this parable and the last one go hand in hand: both carry the warning not to mix together the new and the old covenants of God. The old was meant for people living before Jesus died on the cross. Today we live in the new one that Jesus established. The Apostle Paul was insistent on this point. The new Christians tried to incorporate circumcision and all the hundreds of rules of the Jewish law, into their faith. They were trying to mix the Old Covenant Law with the new wine of God’s grace (Galatians 5:2-6).
Paul who had founded the Church in Galatia was incensed and frustrated: He said in Galatians 1: 6-8 “I am amazed that you are turning away so soon from God who, in His love and mercy, invited you to share the eternal life He gives through Christ; you are already following a different ‘way to heaven’ which really doesn’t go to heaven at all. For there is no other way than the one we showed you; you are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curses fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other way to be saved than the one we told you about; yes, if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed.” (Living Bible Translation)
These are forceful and angry words! If Jesus had been physically present He would have responded exactly the same! He would have accused them of trying to put new wine into the old wineskin of the Law. They were trying to mix the two. Jesus is saying in this parable, if you mix the Old Testament Law with His new wine: with the new teaching of His Spirit, you will end up with a disaster. Not only will you be worse off, with your wineskin burst, you will also lose the power, fulfillment and joy of the new wine of the Holy Spirit. The finished work of the cross, the joy of the cross will disappear. The sweetness, essence and the beautiful sensation of being close to Jesus will fade away. The peace and joy of the message of the Gospel will be polluted to the point, that it no longer even represents the true Gospel. For you, your faith would be in vain.
It is so important that you read the chapter on the new cloth because that goes into even more detail about this topic.
Jesus said, “But they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved” (v. 17b). What is this new wineskin? What is this new wine? How can that happen? Well, first of all, we have to understand that our old life is our old life! In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
We have to understand that we are a new creation in Christ when we ask Jesus Christ to come into our life as Savior and Lord. No longer are we to be under the bondage of the Law but we under a new master: the risen Christ. You might say “Well I don’t want to come under any master!” The fact is since birth up to the point you become a Christian, you were under a ruthless master, who wanted to deceive, torment and destroy you. His name is Satan. But Jesus overcame Satan’s authority in your life. Now the Holy Spirit of God wants to bring you into the image of your new Master so that you can agree with Paul and declare: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
“But I don’t understand,” you say. “I am a sinner: I think and do bad things every day! I don’t feel Christ in me!” Feelings deceive: God’s word is truth! He cannot lie!
You are forgiven – period! You are a child of God, precious in His sight. At salvation, you are justified. I now know that God sees me “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. I only saw myself as a rotten failure but God sees the Holy Spirit living in my human spirit now, so now my human spirit has been made perfectly fit for Heaven. One third of me is totally holy! The Holy Spirit will then, over my whole lifetime, bring into alignment the way I see myself and the way God sees me. In the meantime my sins are not held against me.
“Does that mean I can sin as much as I like?” you may say. That is like a new bride who is confident that her husband loves her and would even die for her, saying “Well, I think I will just go out and sleep with any man I want to now. My husband loves me and would even die for me, so I may as well commit adultery and have some variation in my life.” That is stupid thinking: why would anyone so blessed by Almighty God, even want to think about doing that? When you are saved you want to please God; you want to stop sinning. You certainly wouldn’t be looking for new ways to sin against God!
Jesus died on the cross for every sin. Jesus died for all of the sins that you are ever going to do. If all your sins were not nailed to Jesus on the cross, where are they? And if Jesus died for every sin that you have done this week and every sin that you will ever do, was not His death good enough? The attitude of “having to do religious duties” is “works mentality.” Paul was so angry about that attitude, because it belittles the cross of Jesus. Jesus died for all of our sins: that is the Gospel! It’s the New Wine!
So, what is the new wineskin? The new wineskin is the fact that every born-again believer is “the righteousness of Christ.” You are holy right now. That was the great heavenly exchange that happened at the death of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “For He (The Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (Jesus) (Jesus)” When God looks from Heaven at you: He looks at you through the mercy seat. On the mercy seat is the sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ which is the ultimate perfect sacrifice!
Back in the Old Testament, the people would go to the Temple in Jerusalem and present a certain animal or bird to the priest to be slaughtered so as to reconcile the sinner to God: in God’s sight, the spilled blood of the sacrifice covered over their sin. The priest first checked that the “sacrifice” was perfect; he never inspected the sinner who brought the sacrifice! Think about that! Jesus was the Perfect Lamb of God: He was our sacrifice! God doesn’t look for faults in us, He only looks for perfection in our sacrifice – that is why He set up the Priestly Office and the Sacrifice System the way He did! It was pointing to a time when Jesus was going to die for the whole world’s sin.
God doesn’t look at the Law and all its regulations anymore: He isn’t a God that punishes sin anymore. This is the Gospel of the new wine. He isn’t interested in punishing you: He took all His punishment out on Jesus Christ on the cross!
All of His judgment, all of His condemnation and wrath were poured out on Jesus Christ on the cross. God is not angry with America. God is not angry with Australia. God is not judging these countries. He is not losing the fight. God won the fight with sin and Satan when Jesus died on the cross! Unbelievers must come to know this message and become a partaker of the new wine, otherwise Christ died in vain for them. If they reject Jesus as their Savior, then when they die they will have to receive the wrath of God for their own sin. The sin of unbelief is the only sin that sends anyone to Hell.
I want you to walk in the new wine and to understand this new way of living. I was in terrible bondage and I thought I understood the Gospel but I didn’t. I had a wrong mindset for so long and it robbed me of enjoying this beautiful new wine. I urge you to check out on the internet Andrew Wommack Ministries so that you can be free indeed as Christ wants you to be. I have mentioned his name so often that some readers may suspect that I am on some sort of commission. I only mention him because he teaches profoundly yet so simple.
Jesus said in John 8:32 “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” There is a catch here: it is only the truth that we know, that sets us free! Because I didn’t know it: I had not been set free! Unknown truth helps no one! Up until July, 2010, I was of the understanding that I had to work for my salvation. I had to go to church. I had to read my Bible. I had to be holy. I had to pay God ten percent of my money and if I did not do all these things, I thought God was angry at me and I had to repent. I would beat myself up. I would carry this big load of shame and this load of having to measure up to be worthy of Jesus Christ. Then, I was wonderfully set free with the knowledge of the liberating truth of the Gospel message.
Anyway, you need to understand this parable. Never in my life have I understood the parable of the new wine. The new wine can transform your dirty life—your dirty water. What you did today, what you did last night, all the sins you have just done, all your dirty water can be turned into beautiful, new, fresh-tasting wine in an instant: the best wine you have ever tasted. If you believe this, you can go from the feeling of shame and condemnation to joy and peace. You can go from feeling worthless to being filled with the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit. You can go from sadness to joy, from mourning to dancing.
Isn’t this wonderful? It is a wonderful message. It is a wonderful passage. It is a wonderful parable. We have a wonderful Savior! I hope that you are blessed by the revelation I have given you today.