As wine ferments, it produces gases that expand whatever container that is holding it. This is part of the reason you see winemakers store new wine in wooden barrels or steel drums to prevent expansion. In the time of Jesus, they used goat bladders that were pliable and would expand with the gas. You didn’t put new wine in used skins because they would break. Jesus uses this analogy to illustrate that it was time for a new work.
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the skins. No, new wine is put into fresh wineskins.
Out with the Old
When Jesus came, he brought with him a new work of God. The old system of the temple wouldn’t be able to sustain this. The laws and rituals that were required in the old testament would no longer make a person right in God’s eyes. Jesus was bringing something much more accessible, his grace. No more striving to please God. With Christ’s blood, we are made righteous in his eyes.
The Message Remains the Same
So many people use this passage to talk about a new work they are doing or how God is leading them to start something else. We need to be careful with how we apply this verse. It is specifically about the new work that Jesus was doing. We can’t criticize past models of ministry and call them old wineskins because they were preaching the same Gospel that we do. Sure, methods may change, but the message remains the same.
When Christ enters our life a new work is done. The old life is gone, and we are new creations. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives and becomes our guide in our daily walk with Jesus. Has he done a new work in your life? Are you still trying to impress God with your good deeds? If so stop and allow the grace of Jesus to cover you. We don’t do the new work it is done by the Spirit.