"No one sews a piece of new cloth on an old garment: or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no man puts new wine into old wineskins: or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, and the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined: but new wine must be put into new wineskins." ~ Mark 2:20-21
Jesus didn’t come to patch up our life but to create for us a new one much more abundant than the old. This new life comes in the form of a new and better relationship with God through Jesus Christ, whereby we are led by the Spirit into new and better experiences with Him (Heb. 8). This is “new wine." When Jesus referred to “old wineskins”, He was referring to religious traditions and old ways of relating to God. His statements about what happens when we put a “new cloth on an old garment” and “new wine into old wineskins” were in response to the scribes and Pharisees criticizing Him for not doing things the way everyone else was. They wanted to know why His disciples weren’t fasting like everyone else. Jesus explained, the reason others were fasting was to draw near to God. Likewise, He explained the reason His disciples were not fasting was because He was with them (Mark 2:19). The presence of God changes things. He makes things new (2 Cor. 5:17).
The Spirit has new wine for us. The new wine of the Spirit leads to new ways, new territories, new activities, and new relationships that we must be willing to embrace in order to enter into what God has prepared for us. When we do, we will experience new freedoms, new life, new power, new and deeper revelations of Christ, and new experiences of God’s love. Jesus didn't come to simply patch up our relationship with God but to lead us into a new one. “New wineskins” and “new cloth” means God is doing new things in new ways. That means change is coming. Change can be hard but Spirit led change always leads to something better. Remembering this helps us let go and step into it confidently.
We cannot walk in God’s new way and our old ways at the same time and expect to experience the new life God has for us anymore than a new cloth can be put on an old garment. If you put a new cloth on an old garment, the new cloth will shrink the first time it is washed and tear the old garment making it worse. Likewise, trying to walk in the newness of the Spirit while holding on to old religious traditions and mindsets will make things worse instead of better and we will fail to experience the newness of what God has in store for us. Jesus is saying the nature of the cloth must be consistent with that of the garment just as our ways must be consistent with the Spirit’s ways.
“Old wineskins” are past experiences that have done all they can for us. Old wineskins have already been stretched to the place where they cannot be stretched anymore. If you put new wine in old wineskins, the gasses released from the fermentation process of the new wine will eventually put enough pressure on the old wineskin that it will break and the new wine will be lost. Failure serves as a catalyst to the fermentation process of new wine. Jesus wants us to embrace the new wine of the Spirit and new wineskins capable of experiencing it. Embracing change can be hard but following the Spirit of God in humility and letting go of the reasons and wisdom we have for doing things the same way we’ve always done them is the only way to experience the new wine and new life God has in store for us.