Read: Matthew 9:14-17

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. (v. 17)

“Why don’t your disciples fast?” Because there needs to be congruity between faith and form, that’s why. A new faith cannot be contained in an old form. Jesus says, in effect, “Do not expect me to adapt myself and my message to the old forms of Judaism.” To illustrate, Jesus tells a parable. If you have new, fresh wine, you will not store it in an old wineskin, because when the new wine ferments, the old wineskin will stretch and crack, and the wine will be lost. New wine needs new wineskins. A new faith needs new forms.

So much denominational quarreling, it seems to me, revolves around new wine and old wineskins. I am old enough to remember the battle that raged when newer translations of the Bible appeared on the shelves alongside the old King James wineskin. More recently, so-called contemporary worship burst the old wineskins of hymnody and creedal language.

Gospel truth wears one suit of clothes after another, but it remains gospel truth. It’s the wine that’s important, not the wineskin. Christian fashions come and go, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). I am not advocating a blind belief in progress, nor a gullible hospitality to everything new. But nothing is wrong with the new just because it’s new. Old wineskins deserve our respect. They would not have been in use so long if they didn’t work well. They were new—once. But God’s vineyard keeps producing new wine. —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Lord, help me to know when new wine needs new wineskins.