Jesus said: “Neither do people 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)
New Vs. Old Wineskins
What does this riddle mean? Are some of us stuck with old wineskins, and the rest blessed with new wineskins? What do the new and old wineskins represent? And what exactly does this parable of Jesus mean? What do the wine and wineskins represent?
In Gospels (see John 2:10 and Mark 1:27), it is said that the new wine is better than the old and that Jesus’ teaching was new. Therefore if we take the wine to be symbolic of Jesus teachings in this parable what can we learn?
When wine is put into wineskins and slowly ferments it expands the leather and changes it so that when people taste its contents they are able to appreciate the taste. Our love is supposed to make an impression on those we meet so that God gets the glory.
How Teachable Are You?
I think that the wineskins have to do with how teachable we are (or aren’t). Some of us have new wineskins, while others have old wineskins. Some of us are very teachable whereas others are less so. And some people are very teachable when it comes to love whereas others are less so because they choose to be that way.
The more teachable we are when it comes to the truth for love’s sake the more transformed we can become. By teachable I’m not talking about how able we are at getting our theological ducks in a row. I’m talking about learning to love in the midst of conflicts, difficulties, hardships, temptations, and divided loyalties.
When we are teachable by the Holy Spirit, we will grow in spirit, become flexible and expandable (like the new wineskins). So when we welcome the Good News into our lives it creates room in our hearts and minds to learn how to love God, people, and ourselves more deeply. The room in our hearts is taken up by the Holy Spirit as we grow spiritually.
Wineskins: We Can Grow
In the worst-case scenario, if we are not teachable at all like old wineskins, then there is very little hope for us until God somehow grants us a teachable heart.
When we are teachable but not too much we can stretch a little here and a little there, but may break and tear easily elsewhere. Our receptivity to the Good News is limited, and so we may only accept a few of the teachings of Jesus to apply to our lives victoriously. But we don’t have to be stuck here.
People who don’t know how to deal with their emotions or anger healthily will either be under or over assertive in dealing with people. They may break easily. If there is hope for me then there is hope for all. We don’t have to stay the way we are. Exercise is useful, but a relationship with God can allow Him to do so much more in us than we can ever hope or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20).
Growing Vs. Regressing
We learn from God how to love people more deeply. As time goes by, then we have soft new wineskins. If we refuse to learn from God on how to love people in conflicts, difficulties and hardships, then we have old wineskins. We are all in different stages: either growing or regressing.
It is up to us. We can all have new wineskins if we want; we don’t have to be stuck with old wineskins and lose out on transformation. The choice is ours.
Attitudes are changeable. It doesn’t matter what we start out with. We can grow in the love languages of the Holy Spirit when we choose to be teachable by Him. For ideas on how to change our attitudes for good check out two of my books: Going Deeper With The Twelve Steps and Dismantling the Tree of Knowledge of Good And Evil Within So Love Can Thrive.