“No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost along with the skin. Instead, put new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:22
On Saturday April 24th we had a work day here at church for “Spring Cleaning”, to move items into our new Family Life Center. Many of you showed up to help with this endeavor and I am especially grateful for how everyone found a place to serve! One thing that is always necessary when moving from an old space into a new space is discarding some items that are simply worn out or outdated. There were some things in our church kitchen that had resided there since we rebuilt after the fire of 1984. Although many items made the journey to the new kitchen in the Family Life Center, some items had to be discarded or donated elsewhere because they had no place in our new facility. Every time I’ve ever moved, I have had to discard or donate items that were no longer useful to me. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we seem to amass lots of stuff?
Jesus used this earthly principle to teach his disciples a spiritual truth. In Mark Chapter 2, Jesus wanted to help his disciples understand what must happen on the inside of a person who is saved. Jesus described it like being filled with “new wine.” Throughout the New Testament this idea of “new wine” is symbolic for the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of a disciple. What is at work inside of you? Is it the presence and power of the Holy Spirit? Or is it the desires of your carnal flesh? Jesus taught us that it is foolish to try to put new wine into old wineskins. The new wine stretches the wineskin as it goes through the process of fermentation. An old, worn out, wineskin cannot hold up to such stretching and will surely burst—ruining both the skin and losing the wine. In short, Jesus was making the point that the Holy Spirit can only enter a person who is a “new creation” in Christ. The Holy Spirit will not inhabit the life of one who is unrepentant and unregenerate. The Holy Spirit will move and shake, mold and make, stretch and press, as the Spirit works in our lives to make us more like Christ. This can only occur in a person who has been born new in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 teaches us, “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come.” When we surrender our lives to follow Jesus there are some things that simply must be discarded if we are to live a life of fully committed discipleship.
As we cleaned out our old kitchen at the church there were some things that didn’t work anymore or were so outdated that they wouldn’t serve us well. Sometimes we have to discard the overabundance of material “stuff” that we collect. When I thought about this, I came to a stunning realization--I’m so glad that Jesus didn’t throw us away! When we were at our worst; when we were of no use to the Kingdom’s cause; when we were lost in darkness; when we were deeply stained with sin and disfigured by our iniquity—Jesus died to redeem us. I heard a song recently by Anthony Brown which says:
“He thought I was worth saving, so he came and changed my life. He thought I was worth keeping, so he cleaned me up inside. He thought I was to die for, so he sacrificed his life. Now I can be free, and I can be whole, and I will tell everyone I know, that he thought I was worth saving!”
Thanks be to God who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord! He is able to transform my old wineskin into his new creation so that the Heavenly Father can deposit the new wine of Holy Spirit to live and work within me! Hallelujah! Glory to God!