New Wineskin. One of Satan’s great schemes among believers is to sow discord and that certainly appears to be his purpose here. What better way to criticize the disciples of Jesus than by comparing them to the disciples of John the Baptist.
15 And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. 17 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."
Matthew 9:14-17, NKJV
See also Mark 2:19-22 and Luke 5:34-39)
In these Bible passages from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we find the disciples of John coming to Jesus and questioning him regarding the Pharisee’s accusation that the disciples of Jesus did not fast as did the disciples of John.
What do you think Satan was trying to do in this discourse? One of Satan’s great schemes among believers is to sow discord and that certainly appears to be his purpose here. What better way to criticize the disciples of Jesus than by comparing them to the disciples of John the Baptist.
Jesus’ response may seem a bit confusing when He replied, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” Why did Jesus respond in this way? What do we note about weddings in our day? Weddings are a time of great joy and celebration; they are not a time for mourning. Fasting and praying represent times of mourning, but Jesus is saying that this time, for His disciples, is a time of great joy and celebration.
Yet Jesus did not stop here. He continued on with two very common illustrations. First, He said that new wine is not put in old wineskins, but rather in a new wineskin. Second, He said that a new patch is not put on an old garment. Why? Putting new wine in an old wineskin would cause the wineskin to burst. Patching an old garment with new material will cause the garment to be torn and the rent will be worse.
What was Jesus saying in these illustrations? Jesus was showing His great compassion toward His disciples. They were yet just babes in Christ, not ready to face the difficulties of life that would come upon them in the future. Jesus was kind and tender toward His disciples, bringing them up slowly in the things of God. As such, He was patient and long suffering and did not put them through great difficulties or tests of their faith.
How should we apply these truths to our lives today in this the 21st century? Two things come to mind. First, let us beware of the schemes of the devil, who will stop at nothing to sow discord and division among the people of God. Has he been effective in this endeavor? O yes! One only has to look at the countless churches and denominations that exist in our world today. While all Bible believing churches believe and preach the same Word of God, they have separated and separated again and again, often over small differences in doctrinal beliefs.
Second, let us look to Jesus as our primary example of working with our fellow believers. Let us show love and patience in their growth in Him. Let us not put undue burdens upon other believers, but let us exercise patience and forbearance, as they grow more mature in Christ. It is easy for is, in our desire to be obedient to Christ to expect everyone to believe exactly as we do regarding even the finer points of doctrine. Let us be patient toward other believers, even those who do not necessarily degree with us.
God, in His sovereignty will bring His entire body of believers into complete agreement at the end of time. In heaven, we will all agree! How amazing is that?
Go, today, in the strength and power of God and be careful that you only put new wine in a new wineskin!