New wine into old wineskins – Matt 9:17


Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17


Change can be confronting. Ask a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy how she is coping and most will confess it is not easy.  Their bodies undergo the most amazing of transformations, from the expansion of their uteruses to their blood composition itself. None of this, however, comes anywhere near the changes that occur after the baby is born!

Change is not always physical though. It can be emotional, developmental, or spiritual. Yet often when we are called to adapt… we do not like it.

When Christ talked of old wineskins and new wine, he referred to the standard storage implement of the time. New wine was still fermenting, placing such in an old wineskin would ultimately destroy it. Old wineskins became brittle and could crack with the gaseous liquid being introduced. They could only be used for old wine.

Carson (1984) states, “Jesus’ teaching and the kingdom now dawning must be poured into new forms. Matthew makes it at least as clear as does Mark that the new wine can only be preserved in new forms.”

Obedience to God’s Spirit introduces a radical change of life–one where love is to be extended to enemies, a total denial of self is introduced, possessions are given to the poor, the cheek is turned to evil. The imperatives can be overwhelming. Jesus even affirms – few will find this narrow path (Matt. 7:14). Many will simply be mixing new with old and living religiously without any visible signs of heartfelt repentance.

Being responsive to Christ means continually changing and being willing to learn, foregoing (where necessary) religious traditions, especially if such traditions conflict with helping those in need. It also means being able to adapt to changing circumstances, in other words remaining flexible. The new wineskin was flexible. It could expand to meet the needs of the fermenting young wine.

Are you willing to change for Jesus Christ? Or rather, are you stuck in your old ways and traditions? Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head (Lk. 9:58). Jesus Christ is on the move, forever entering into the lives of those in need, coming alongside the poor and destitute, broken and oppressed. Such a life means continual change, NOT comfortable monotony.