Winetasting has become a popular pastime in Oregon, as wineries have sprouted up throughout the countryside. Apparently, our state’s climate is conducive to the growth of tasty grapes and wines. The landscape boasts so many wineries now, that you can spend an entire weekend sampling the fruit-of-the-vine at different ones.
In the second chapter of Mark in your Bible, some people had asked Jesus why His disciples were not fasting. He answered, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.” In Jesus’ day, grape juice was placed in animal skins that had been sewn shut. As the juice fermented, the skin would stretch, much like blowing up a balloon.
At first glance, it seems odd to discuss winemaking as a reply to that question. But Jesus used this illustration to teach one of the MOST IMPORTANT TRUTHS about salvation. It makes sense when we look back into the history of Israel.
Over a thousand years before this, God delivered the Hebrew people from centuries of slavery in Egypt. Three months later, at Mt. Sinai, He gave the Law to Moses, containing the Ten Commandments. The Law was a sort of “constitution” for this fledgling nation. It instructed them how to relate to God and to one another. It became known as the Covenant with God, a sort of manual for conducting every aspect of life. As time passed, people assumed they earned God’s favor by keeping the commands of the Law.
The Israelites misunderstood the purpose of the Law. It was to reveal the seriousness of their sin. It was never meant to be the means of curing the disease of sin. But Jesus was bringing the cure for sin and a new way to relate to God. Jesus used winemaking to explain that He hadn’t come to earth to simply REMODEL the Law. He came to REPLACE it so people could know God as Father. He didn’t come primarily to change BEHAVIOR, but to change HEARTS. Jesus called this “new wine” the NEW COVENANT.
The old covenant of Law provided temporary forgiveness through the sacrifice of animals. Jesus’ new covenant provides eternal forgiveness through His ONE sacrifice on the cross. The Law was to drive us to Christ. Galatians 3:24-25 reads, “So the law was put in charge TO LEAD US TO CHRIST that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”
If you haven’t yet come to Christ, I hope you’ll do that soon. You’ll discover that His salvation is NOT just a bunch of rules and regulations that you must follow, but a personal relationship with the God of the universe.
If you are a Christ-follower, thank Him today that He paid with His life to give you His “new wine.”