by Pastor Mark Banyard
In Luke 5:33-35, Jesus talks about the parable of the new wine: They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
In verses 36-39, Jesus told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
Jesus said that you don’t take new wine and put it into an old wineskin. Why is that? Well, if you know anything about wine, the way that you turn grape juice into wine is not by a miracle as Jesus did at the wedding in Cana in Galilee. There, He turned water into wine, it was not grape juice. But
with grape juice, you might know that it takes an ingredient, the catalyst, to cause it to ferment. And that is yeast. Jesus said, beware of the leaven, or the yeast of the Pharisees. There is good yeast and there is bad yeast. You need to know what kind of yeast it is.
So, in order to turn grape juice into wine you need that yeast. The fermentation process causes a catalectic change. The grape juice somehow changes with the sugar and the heat and the yeast and so on and so forth. But while it is fermenting, it expands and it bubbles and it lets gas off. And if you pour new wine into a wineskin that is old, the wine is still in the process of fermenting and because it’s new, it will break the skin. The old wine skin has lost its elasticity and therefore, it can’t cope with the dynamics of the new thing. It can’t withstand the energies of something that’s new. And it breaks and it spills out and everything is gone. And as a consequence, Jesus said you not only lose the new wine but you also ruin the old wineskin.
When we started reading from Luke 5:33, the frame around the parable of the new wine is about fasting. The Pharisees are speaking to John the Baptist’s disciples. They are whispering into their ears. Do you know about Jesus’ disciples? While we are all fasting and fasting often, and while we are fulfilling the law, they are eating and drinking. What kind of disciples are they? What they are trying to do through a spirit of gossip and a religious spirit, is to put a separation between John the Baptist’s disciples and Jesus’ disciples. They are trying to undermine the authority of what Christ is doing by bringing division between the Pharisees and Jesus’ disciples. And so, it is in this context that Jesus tells this parable. He is drawing out the fact that it is not by the law that we now live out but by the Spirit.
Jesus answered them in Luke 5:34-35, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while He is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them and in those days they will fast.” Jesus’ answer is brilliant. It is insightful. He doesn’t say whether fasting is good or bad. That would be ensnared by the argument. Of course, fasting is appropriate. But Jesus doesn’t make that the argument. What He says is, fasting is good but you need to discern when it is the time of fasting. If the fasting you do is based on a calendar, then it just becomes religious. But there are times to fast but there is also time not to. Jesus was saying to them at this time, the bridegroom is here and now. This is not a time for fasting. But they could not see it because they were bound by their pride, their arrogance and their sense of righteousness according to their attempt to fulfill the law. And because Jesus is with them, this is not a time for fasting, this is a time for celebration! I believe we are in a period of time while we fast because we discern that fasting is right but we also discern when it is a time for celebration when God is doing a new thing!
So I declare over you the new thing that God has already began to do. He is moving by His Spirit but He is pouring out new wine. The issue for us today is not to be praying for a new wine but thanking Him for the promise that He is going to fulfill. But there is something we should be praying about and that is the old wineskin.
Are we going to be the wineskin that can receive the new wine? Times of fasting, times of celebration, times when new wine is about to be poured out and so the question is: are we ready to receive the new wine? Have we become yet the new wineskin that will receive? Jesus said don’t pray for the harvest, pray for the workers. Look at the field they are white unto harvest already. Pray that the Lord of the harvest for workers to be sent. The new wine will come whether you want it to come or not. The question is, will you be ready to receive it? He wants us to receive something so that we can sustain what He does.