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New Wine? What Was Jesus Talking About?

Have you ever thought of the Bible as a Jewish book? Think about it―almost every human author of God’s Word was Jewish. In today’s blog, Alyssa Glander takes us through a short passage of Scripture that, when clarified within the context of Jewish culture, opens the door to a whole new level of comprehension, teaching a valuable spiritual concept.

Luke 5:37–39
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. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, "The old is better."

At first glance, these verses can be a little confusing if we cannot recognize and understand their ancient context and the practices they speak of. To fill in the blanks and provide the needed context, we need to answer the following questions: What was Jesus talking about? And what did He mean?
In Jesus’ day, when speaking of drinks meant to ferment, such as wine, it was understood that the wine was to be stored in animal skins, often called “wineskins.” These skins would usually come from goats, and during the fermentation process, the wineskins would stretch as the wine expanded. Once the wine fermented, the old wineskins would be discarded! Why? Well, because they would have already reached their limit. New wine will always cause the skin it’s contained in to be stretched, and if new wine were placed in an already worn-out skin, then of course, as the Scriptures say, it would burst!
Why tell parables about wine? The practices around wine preparation were culturally relevant to not only the Jewish people but everyone else during that time, meaning the hearers would easily understand an object lesson of this type.
So, what message was Jesus trying to convey here?
  • Jesus was making a point―He had come to do something entirely new! If anyone were to try to understand what Jesus was doing through an old (wineskin) lens, they would miss it!
  • Another essential thing to remember is that Jesus was not at all what the Jewish people expected of their long-awaited Messiah. It’s understood that in biblical times, the chosen people expected a great military leader or at least one whose works would be similar to the actions of God that we see in the Old Testament.
But Jesus was ushering in a new thing! We Christians are blessed to be able to read the Scriptures with hindsight, while the people of that time struggled with the ideas He presented.
My question for you today is, “What lens are you looking at God with?” Are you giving God room to do something new in and through you? Are you a new “wineskin” ready for new wine poured out by God? Sometimes, I’m guilty of being so fixated on how God should move in my life that I completely miss what He is doing. Sometimes, I pray so hard for a “yes” in my circumstances that I forget that God could also say “no” or “not right now” about the blessing I’ve been praying for the whole time.

Proverbs 3:5–6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I pray that moving forward, we will all continue digging deeper into the Scriptures to understand them in the Jewish context, which is so essential to discerning the layers of meaning within the biblical text. Prepare your hearts as new “wineskins” ready to store the new “wine.”
Author Bio:
My name is Alyssa Glander! I have been walking with the Lord since I was about 17, and He has shouldered me all the way!! I am a Content and Social Media Manager at Reasons For Hope and the second youngest member of the team! I've been happily married to my amazing husband Marc for about six years now, and we reside in Georgia with our beautiful baby girl, Genesis, and our certifiably insane (but sweet) Boston Terrier, Axel!  

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