By Pastor Ted R. House
In Luke 5:36-38, the Bible says: "And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.” Jesus told this parable to the crowd of people attending the feast at Matthew Levi's house. Why did He tell it, and what did it mean? He told it because of the conversation that had just taken place between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees. In John 5:30 & 33, they had asked Him two questions: "...Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?" and "...Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?" He answered both questions and then told them this parable.
Jesus was the master teacher. He told them about a Jewish wedding feast, then He told them a two-part parable. The first part of the parable was about a garment. He told them that no one takes a piece of a new garment and sews it into an old garment and expects the stitches to hold. Have you ever sown a new patch on an old pair of jeans? In a few days or weeks, the old material will begin to fray. The stitches will start to come out and the hole will be even bigger than it was before. The second part of the parable was about bottles. In Bible times, the bottles were made of animal skins, not glass. After the new wine was in the bottle for a long time it would begin to ferment and break down the material. So, if new wine is put into an old bottle, that had already been weakened, as it began to ferment, it would burst the old bottle. What was Jesus trying to teach them with this parable? First, in Luke 5:36, the old and the new garment were not in agreement.
The Pharisees and Jesus were not in agreement. Law and grace are not in agreement. Works and faith are not in agreement. Any religious system or faith that is not based on the truth that salvation is in Jesus Christ alone, that it was His blood which is the atonement for our sins, and it is by grace that we are saved through faith, is not in agreement with Jesus Christ! Anything other than the truth of the gospel is like trying to add the old to the new. The old system that the Pharisees were hanging on to was the old garment. But Jesus fulfilled the law 100%. He is the new garment, the sinless Lamb of God! False religions and old systems must be forsaken. They cannot be attached to the Gospel of Christ.
The stitches will not hold! In John 14:6, Jesus said: "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Second, the old cannot be reformed by the new. Luke 5:37 says: "And no man putteth new wine into old bottles...". We cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps! We cannot clean up ourselves. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse our sins. We cannot make the old bottle new by putting new stuff in it! But, when we accept Christ as our Savior, we become a new creature in Christ. II Cornitians 5:17 tells us: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The old does not need restoration, it needs transformation! Third, the old must be redeemed. Luke 5:38: "But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved."
The new wine, the blood of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that comes along with it, will create a new life, and it will be eternal. It will be preserved. I Peter 1:18 & 19 says: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things...But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"