Hope for Renewal is Ours (But Does It Need a New Container?) |
christian speaker, writer, christian blog, south dakota blog, speaker, sojourner, Cindy Krall
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I don't know if the shine has worn off anyone else's New Year, but for some reason, I'm still there. Reading about new. Thinking about new. Hoping for new.


"But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Luke 5:38 NKJV


Perhaps that's why this verse jumped off the pages. I read it and immediately slid into this vertical conversation,


"God, I've heard this a hundred times, and I still don't know what it means."


You too?


Grab your coffee and bible because discovery is right around the corner! The first step to understanding this scripture is to look at its context.


Jesus spoke these words to a group of Pharisees. He repeatedly took the time to explain things to them. Perhaps Jesus hoped that there would be some among them that would understand true religion. The new religion that He was living and teaching. 


The new wine and the new wineskin.


Jesus had just called Matthew the Levite to follow Him. Below is Matthew's celebratory response. (It's long but necessary to read if we want to understand our scripture.)


"Levi (Matthew) gave a great banquet for Him at his house, and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes [seeing those with whom He was associating] began murmuring in discontent to His disciples, asking, "Why are you eating and drinking with the tax collectors and sinners [including non-observant Jews]?" And Jesus replied to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but [only] those who are sick." Luke 5:29-31 AMP


"Then they said to Him, "The disciples of John [the Baptist] often practice fasting and offer prayers [of special petition], and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink." Jesus said to them, "Can you make the wedding guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But days [for mourning] will come when the bridegroom is [forcefully] taken away from them. They will fast in those days." He also told them a parable…." Luke 5:33-35 AMP


 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the new [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins, and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins." Luke 5:37-37 AMP


Did you pick up on what concerned the Pharisees most? Matthew's feast involved the likes of savory folks. Individuals that the Pharisees thought you shouldn't spend time with. 


As I read this, I wondered if I would be a modern-day Pharisee. I remember counseling our children to be careful about who they spent time with, believing that sometimes the wisest thing would be for them to distance themselves. 


But the Pharisees were not children. They were supposed to care for and shepherd the sheep even, perhaps especially, those that had gone astray.


It seems, however, that they were more concerned about rules and appearances than people. Jesus reminded them that the unhealthy and the sick needed a physician. The question was, would the Pharisees choose to love their rules more than their people? 


Jesus placed new demands on the Pharisees (and us). 
New demands require new wine. 
And new wine requires new wineskin. 


One commentary described it this way: new wine is a renewal "… by the Spirit and grace of God: and these are filled with spiritual joy and comfort…". 


The new wineskin is a new way of framing the Spirit-led life, for it is impossible to be both under the law and under grace.


New wine. New wineskin.


The last slice of this beautiful pie is at the end of the verse.


"But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Luke 5:38 NKJV


New wine must be in a new wineskin, or it won't have room to ferment, expand and grow. If the container that holds this living, active "wine" is new, it will flex. The wine's expansion won't break it. An old, rigid wineskin that can't accommodate growth will tear. The result? "And both are preserved."


What does this mean for you and me? First, Jesus wants us to receive new "wine"… renewal from the Holy Spirit. He also wants us to experience fellowship and receive discipleship from a church and others that foster the development of "wine." 


A few months ago, a friend shared with me about a challenge they were having in a relationship with an extended family member. The challenge was so troubling they sought counsel from their Pastor. He gave my friend advice that I haven't forgotten.


He said, "You don't need to change them. You just need to love them. After all, you're in it for the long game. Trust God to do the work."


The "long game." What a great principle to apply in so many areas of life. Why not wine? The longer it ferments, the better it gets. But isn't it funny how we want change in our lives to be instantaneous?


I want every piece of me to be renewed right now. Stat! And I want it to happen in the best wine bottle that exists!


But it doesn't usually happen that way. So many things in life are a process. A slow fermentation. I don't think it was an accident that Jesus used this illustration. I take great comfort in knowing…


The best-tasting wine is allowed a long time to ferment.


When being made new and finding the best possible place to do it isn't happening exactly as we wish, or as fast as we want, may we take the advice given to my friend. May we decide to stay in it for the long game, and may we trust God to do the work.


I love the way God puts things in my path when I'm pondering and pounding out questions on a keyboard. The day I wrote this, words of wisdom made their way to my inbox. I opened a post from Kelly Balarie. When I read it, I could've sworn I heard the same click you hear when the last piece of a puzzle falls into place. Here's an excerpt:


"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mt. 22:39 ESV)


Jesus tells us here, we don't only love others. We must first show love towards ourselves. How can one give what they don't own? How can one impart a gift that doesn't belong to them?


Loving ourselves is integral to loving others well. We receive love to give it.


Love is first kind to its own heart.
Love is patient in its own progress.
Love is full of grace as it learns how to work and when things don't go exactly right.
Love is able to let go of yesterday for a better today.
Love starts in us.
Love is the only way we can be made new.


Love and grace. If I didn't know better, I'd say they sound like new wineskin.


Would you pray with me?


"Father, most of us would say that in one form or another, we like "new." But we confess it's hard to get our head around the new You create in us! Help us believe it. Help us receive it. Help us 'stay in it for the long game' so that these changes can ferment. Help us to receive the new 'wineskin' of love and grace and help us to give it. Hope for new is ours Lord! Help us keep it in the right container. In Jesus' name, Amen."

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