In Matthew 9, Jesus had a conversation with unnamed disciples of John the Baptist. Their questions began on the subject of fasting, but ended with Jesus discussing “fresh wineskins.” He told them, “But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matt. 9:16, 17, NAS) The New Living Translation defines the process in a more precise manner: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins…”(Matt. 9:17, NLT)
“The old skins would burst from the pressure…” This statement gives me pause to think and wonder… am I prepared to carry and release the new wine that He will pour out in 2014…or will I “burst”? Am I keeping my personal wineskin new….or allowing it to grow “old” and inflexible?
The actual process involved in creating a wineskin illuminates how His Words apply to us, today. A traditional wineskin begins with the raw material of a carefully-chosen goat skin. Each hide is cured with vegetable extracts until it is soft and pliable. The skin is then cut to the specific shape needed. The pieces are sewn together in a manner that is airtight. Air is blown hard into the bag to inflate it, and with a practiced flick of the wrist the wineskin is turned inside-out. Hot sealing resin made from pine or juniper is applied to the interior of the bag, then allowed to cool. At this point, missing only the resin-drying time and insertion of a mouthpiece, the wineskin is ready for use.*1
Something about this process really stands out to me… a useful wineskin is not an out-of-the-package, microwave creation. It isn’t suitable for its designated purpose – it’s “destiny,” if you will – without preparation, time, process of “curing,” plus the care and design of a master craftsman.
…but are we willing to become soft and pliable? Are we willing to hold to the shape that reflects the Master Craftsman’s design? Are we willing to…well…be turned inside-out, following the breath of the Master Craftsman blowing His breath, His Spirit over and into us?
Those are weighty questions not facing the goatskin at the beginning of the process. But they are questions none of us can avoid…if, indeed, we desire a fresh wineskin, a non-bursting container able to hold and disburse what our loving Father wants to pour into us.
The alternative is described by an online author named Bob Grove who writes, “…when wineskins were not being used, they would toss them outside…as the wineskin would sit outside in the weather, the sun beating down on it, it would dry up and would become hard…the problem starts when they want to use this wineskin again. If they pour new wine in the wineskin, the new wine would start to ferment. And if the wineskin is dry and hard, then it won’t expand – it would only crack – thus damaging the wineskin and causing the new wine to pour out of it…” *2
The world brings us plenty of “weather,” and the “sun” of adversity welcomes every opportunity to beat down on us. Psalm 18:30encourages, “He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” Allow the Master Craftsman to freshen your wineskin with fresh oil…and to be your Refuge, gently blowing His breath over and into you…
*1 Online resource, Jesus Blasco, “The Traditional Method of Wineskin Making.”*2 Online website, “Life Illuminate” by Bob Grove