Wine and Wineskins

I was reading a book called Return to Authentic Christianity that made me stop to think about the Wine and Wineskin issue in Jesus’ teachings. This is found is 3 of the Gospels, and I am including the text here:

  • Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. (Matt 9:17, ESV)
  • And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins–and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins. (Mark 2:22, ESV)
  • And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5:37-38)

The wineskins Jesus is referring to here are “bottles” made of leather, or skin from various beasts. As they were used, they began to break down, and at some point, they would just break.

Jesus was calling the “religious” system of the Scribes and Pharisees the old wineskins. Basically, He was suggesting that this system was frail, and ready to break. However the classic “sinner” who had their lives regenerated by the grace of God are the new wineskins. These people have a religious system that is not “religious”! It is new, refreshing, alive, and able to hold the new wine.

Questions that I thought of immediately, both on a personal level, and on a broader level across the Christian circles I intersect with:

  • If we are wineskins, what wine is being poured into us?
  • As wineskins, are we considered new skins or old skins?
  • We should share the wine inside us with others. Is it our job to ensure they are new wineskins before we pour?
  • Do we know for certain that we our wineskins contain new wine?
  • What vineyards do the grapes come from that make our wine?

Of course, I hope everyone considers these questions, but I’d also like to know what you may be thinking, whether it is answers to these questions, either personally or corporately, or you have other questions for us to ponder, or just something this topic has made you think of.

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