And this young miracle worker with the power of God is telling him none of it is any good. He’s got to lay down those old wineskins and out new wineskins on. He’s got to re-think everything he’s ever known and taught. Not only that, if he doesn’t re-think everything he’s ever known, if he’s not born again, if he doesn’t trade in his old wineskins of ritual and rules and regulation for Jesus’ new wineskins of love, mercy, relationship, and self-sacrifice, then he will never even see the kingdom of God. It’s a lot to take in for this old rabbi, because after all, How can a man be born when he is old? How can an old man just re think, re examine everything he’s ever known?
It’s a lot to take in for anybody, isn’t it? How could that old rabbi Nicodemus just re-think everything he’s ever known about Yahweh, about the Kingdom of God. Not just known, but everything he’s received from those who went before him, and passed down to those that came after him. It’s not just a part of his own very being, it’s a part of his people. It’s part of his culture’s very core. To re-think everything he’s ever known, to be born again, would just break the entire framework of his belief system, and render his entire life’s work a moot point. Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? I can’t go back and just re-live my entire life! I can’t just start over, can I? Nicodemus was picking up exactly what Jesus is laying down here…
But it’s just as Jesus tells us at the very end of Luke chapter 5 – And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good. Luke 5:39 ESV. When we are wearing our old garments, our old wineskins, our old ways of looking at the world, new wine might get poured in from somewhere, and it just doesn’t fit. It doesn’t belong. We can’t stitch the new cloth into our old fabric, No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. Or someone brings out a little new wine, maybe teaching a reading of scripture or tells the story of Jesus in a way we haven’t heard before, and we try to pour it into our old wineskins, our old ways of seeing the world, and the skins just burst and the wine is spilled all over the brand new carpets, just making a huge mess. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
New wine must be put into fresh wineskins. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. When we wear our old garments, and hang onto our old wineskins, sometimes we just can’t squeeze someone’s new idea into these old ways of seeing the world. Our paradigm just won’t allow it. Or maybe it’s best put like this – “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”” John 3:8 ESV.
When we are stuck with old wineskins and old garments of being, we can miss forever where the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, might be trying to take us. Because, as Jesus said, And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good. Some of us have been drinking old wine our whole lives, and it is good. We know our bibles, we know we are saved, we know we are going to heaven when we die. And we know that’s all that matters. Right?
We know a lot of things. But the spirit of God moves wherever it may go, has no boundaries, no borders. When I started doing this a few years ago, I really did not know why I was doing it. I still don’t. But reading Luke chapter 5, in David Bentley Hart’s New Testament- a Translation, has opened my eyes and given me a new understanding of myself and why I’m doing this.
I believe that I, like everybody, am looking for something. But like the old U2 song says, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Abraham was looking for a city built by God. He was looking for a city built upon live of neighbor and love of God. He was looking for a city built upon the foundation of Christ that was to come. “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”” John 8:56 ESV
So, what am I looking for? I’m looking for new wine. I’m saying this as a guy who has not had a drink in 5 years, but I’m looking for new wine. I’ve been born again (again). I’ve got the new wineskins, wearing some new garments, don’t need a patch.
I’m looking for new wine. New wine that’s available to all who thirst. New wine bringing hope over fear. New wine that cleanses all who come in contact with it. New wine where there is no “them”, only “us”. New wine made from the blood of one who chose to die for, not kill, his enemies. New wine that brings life to dry bones. New wine that brings life and not death. New wine that makes even the Dead Sea fresh. New wine that flows like a river of life.
New wine of a gospel that saves the world.
“And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'” Luke 5:33-39 ESV