Mark 2:18-22 “Are You A New Wineskin Or An Old Whineskin?”

Posted on October 27, 2008. Filed under: The Gospel of Mark |

Mark 2:18-22 “Are You A New Wineskin Or An Old Whineskin?” 3 October 1999 AM



I. The Conflict

II. The New Wine of the Gospel

III. The Joy of the Wedding

IV. Ridding Ourselves of Old Garments and Brittle Wineskins




Introduction:  In a minute I am going to ask you to list some things that simply do not go together, such as oil and water; think about that for a minute. We are studying verse by verse through the Gospel According to Mark looking for some answers to some very important questions- What is the Gospel? What does the good news of Jesus have to do with me and my daily life? How should I respond to the Gospel? How can I relate the gospel to others?

            This morning’s text is about mixing things that do not belong together. The Gospel of Jesus is fundamentally new and different from the legalism of the Jews. The Jewish religion had degenerated to a works based religion of outward forms and laws about minutia, laundry lists of do’s and don’ts, a religion of human effort instead of God’s grace.

            What are some things in our day that just do not go together? Oil and water, avocados and ice cream…

            At the conclusion of this sermon I want you to know for sure if you are trying to mix the grace of God with your own religious works and are thus still lost in your sins. If you are sure you are born again, you may need to examine your life for areas of being an old and brittle wineskin, or whineskin, where God is trying to stretch you and you are resisting. Are you living a joy filled Christian life like a newlywed, or is your faith permanently in a sour mood?


I. The Conflict.

            Any time we examine the scriptures we must first examine what was going on with the people directly involved, what is the situation. The story immediately prior shows Jesus participating in a banquet with a new disciple, Levi (Matthew); a feast, a party (we see a similar situation when Jesus meets Zaccheus in Lk 19). The fact that Jesus was associating with notorious sinners was by itself a scandal. But apparently this party with the publicans was on a day that the Pharisees and John’s disciples normally fasted (Mon or Thurs). These disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees were therefore questioning Jesus about why his disciples did not keep these traditional fast days (the only fast day required of the Jews in the Law was on the day of atonement in late September, see Lev 16:24). Tonight we will study this question of fasting.

            One of the key themes of Mark’s gospel is the conflict that surrounds Jesus. In ch.1 Jesus is confronted with the temptation of Satan and the dangers of the wilderness and wild animals; then in Capernaum he attends synagogue and is confronted with a demon possessed synagogue member; next Jesus confronts the effects of the Fall by healing various diseases, including leprosy (symbolizing sin). In ch. 2 Jesus heals a paralyzed man but forgives his sin publicly first, thus causing the attending Pharisees to question Jesus in their hearts, accusing him of blaspheming God by taking on the prerogative of God. Now he has the audacity to choose a tax collector as a disciple and to actually eat with all those nasty sinners, and to ignore the fast days that were highly valued by the Pharisees. Jesus is just plain irritating to the Pharisees and in this text He explains why.


II. The New Wine of the Gospel

            Jesus uses three short parables to contrast what he is doing with what the Pharisees are expecting. First he explains why his disciples do not fast by saying there is no fasting at a wedding banquet. We will look at this aspect in a few minutes.

            Right now look at vss21-22. Jesus says that nobody sews a new patch on an old garment. The new patch would shrink up and tear the old garment worse. Nobody is going to put new wine into an old, brittle wineskin because the new wine emits gasses as it ferments, thus stretching the fresh, pliable wineskin into a proper shape, but causing an old wineskin to burst thus wasting the wine and the skin. What is he teaching? What is the meaning?

            Chrysostom, writing in the 4th century, says, “The souls of some are like an old garment, an old wineskin- not as yet renewed by faith. Not yet renovated in the grace of the Spirit, they remain weak and earthly. All their affections are turned toward this life, fluttering after worldly show, loving a glory that is ephemeral.”(ACCS, p.34)

            Jesus is here stating that he is bringing something entirely new onto the scene, he is announcing the coming of the Kingdom of God, and he is proclaiming the Good News. This could certainly be compared with his conversation with Nicodemus in John’s Gospel ch 3 where he tells Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the council that he must be born again.

            The legalistic Jews, like all of us, were in need of a new garment entirely. No mere patch will do. Because we are all lost in sin, totally depraved, radically corrupted in every aspect of our lives, separated from God by our extreme ungodliness, a simple patch will not do! People try to satisfy their soul’s needs with morals or immorality, education or the bliss of ignorance, worldly goods of prosperity or the poverty of asceticism, manmade religions of works and rituals or the secular escape of materialistic science. But in our spiritual darkness of sin we cannot ever fix the problem, we keep on sewing patches onto our worldly ways. In God’s eyes our clothing is in tatters, soiled and useless, filthy rags as Isaiah says about our best man centered righteousness. No, as sinners, we cannot be patched. We need a new garment entirely!

            In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he deals with the problem of trying to mix works with grace. The judaizers were trying to say the way of salvation was to become a Jew first then add the grace of Jesus. But Paul says, 3:1-3

“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?…6 Consider Abraham: He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness…11

Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, The righteous will live by faith.”

            In this confrontation with the Pharisees, Jesus is saying there is no mixing of the old ways of legalism with the coming of the Kingdom, for salvation by grace through faith is a brand new garment, a new wineskin that cannot be mixed with a man centered works righteousness. The works oriented religion cannot contain God’s grace that He is now pouring out. Grace requires new wineskins.

            We see this principle even in the old testament book of Ezekiel 36:26,27

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Notice that our keeping the law comes after we receive the gift of God’s Spirit, after we have been born again we keep the laws of God as a thank offering, a love offering back to God, not in order to earn our salvation or keep our salvation. Obedience follows faith and repentance. Obedience is an act of faith not the flesh. This is the new wine that bursts the old wineskins of the Pharisees.

            Have you repented of sin and placed your faith in Christ? Have you trusted in Jesus alone for your salvation? Or are you trusting in church membership, good morals, and religion?


III. The Joy of the Wedding

            Jesus uses the parable of a wedding to explain why his disciples do not keep the fasts. The wedding party and Bride and Groom had a week of celebration after the wedding and were officially excused from the weekly fasts. Joy was the characteristic of the wedding.

            The Jewish religion as distorted by the Pharisees was a somber and joyless system of legalism and man centered works. Jesus is now ushering in a new age of joy. Joy and the works righteousness of the Pharisees are incompatible. Joy comes with grace in the kingdom of God.

            Dr. R. Kent Hughes writes about this passage and relates an Erma Bombeck story of “how she was sitting in church one Sunday when a small child turned around and began to smile at the people behind her. She was just smiling, not making a sound. When her mother noticed, she said in a stage whisper, ‘Stop that grinning! You’re in church’ gave her a swat , and said, ‘That’s better’ Erma concluded that some people come to church looking like they had just read the will of their rich aunt and learned that she had given everything to her pet hamster!”

            With the coming of the kingdom of God, with the salvation that Jesus died on the cross to obtain for us, with the regeneration of our hearts by the Holy Spirit, comes a divine joy that ought to pervade our lives. We are the Bride of Christ, we are His betrothed not his bothered. Joy is a supernatural fruit of the spirit!

            In the church, just a few bitter, legalistic, nitpicky individuals can rob the joy of a whole congregation with their constant criticisms, complaints, and fussing. In essence they become whineskins instead of wineskins; containers of sour grapes instead of the joyful new wine that Christ intends. Just a few pharisaical saints can cause a church unending turmoil and run off pastor after pastor, run off member after member with their joyless, self centered religion. Christ brings a wedding party to us, a party of joy, peace and grace that cannot mix with the constant grumbling and murmuring that is a sign of immaturity and carnality. The Pharisees were the ultimate biblical example of this, but there is plenty of this in the church today as well.

            Are you rejoicing in the Lord? Are you joy filled? Do you come to worship in a spirit of joyful anticipation or of criticism and complaint?


IV. Ridding Ourselves of Old Garments and Brittle Wineskins

            The dominant meaning of this text is clearly that the new wine of the gospel replaces the works righteousness of the Pharisees distorted religion. The coming of the Kingdom of God requires a totally new garment, not a patch, a new wineskin for the new wine of God’s grace. If we want new life, lasting joy, we must let God change out our old wineskins and give us a new wineskin. This is what we do as we repent of sin and trust in Christ for salvation.

            But does this text also speak to established believers? Does this text also speak to our sanctification? Yes! I believe there is a principle here that helps established believers.

            Growing in Christ is a gradual thing as the Spirit sanctifies us one day at a time. Human beings are complex and multifaceted; we have several areas of our lives that must be submitted to the Lordship of Christ. We can grow in grace and become disciples but then one day a hidden area of our life gets challenged by the Word of God. When we resist the promptings of the Spirit in this regard, we act like an old whineskin don’t we? As the Spirit pricks our hearts with guilt over our sin it hurts, and we whine as the consequences of our disobedience mount. The new wine of the lordship of Christ is expanding into every corner and secret recess of our hearts and if we resist we become brittle, our hearts can harden, the garment of our new life in Christ tears. You see we must put on Christ every day, be refreshed by the Spirit every day, be made new every day.

            Barclay writes. (p62) “Jesus is pleading for certain elasticity in our minds. It is fatally easy to become set in our ways. As they grow older almost everyone develops a constitutional dislike of that which is new and unfamiliar. We grow unwilling to make any adjustments in our habits and ways of life. The Christian has no right to ask where he is going. Abraham went out not knowing whither he went.”

            When we become set in our ways so that we cannot find new ways to worship, make disciples and reach out to the lost that are biblical yet relevant to our society then we are like the old worn out garment or the wineskin that is about to burst. We become useless for the kingdom and waste the new wine of God’s grace in Christ. The world looks at our torn patched garment and has no use for it. We receive the biggest insult of all- we are ignored as irrelevant by this present generation. When God’s people are so stuck in the past that they fail to learn anything new it is time for the new wineskin of revival and renewal that can only come from the Holy Spirit. And if we resist the Holy Spirit, we continue to tear, and burst as an old wineskin.


Conclusion: Where are you this morning? Are you just religious, trusting in your morals, your church attendance, and your good works to save you? Have you dangerously tried to mix works and grace as the Galatians did? Have you repented of sin and trusted in Christ alone for your righteousness? Will you trust him this day? You may have been a church member here for 30 years, but are you truly born again?

            Look at your life this morning; are you full of the joy of the Lord that comes from the Holy Spirit? Or are you full of complaints, pride, murmurings and rebelliousness? Are you eager for a new work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you teachable, eager to learn, grow in grace and participate in the new works the Spirit is doing today? Or are you satisfied with your faith the way it has been for the past year, or 5, or 30?

            Do you want this church to be a new wineskin that expands, grows as the Spirit does his new work in our midst?

            We have the opportunity to be a new wineskin, or we can choose to be a brittle whineskin. What will this church choose?


This sermon was one of my favorites from the series in Mark I preached 9 years ago. The congregation was less than enthusiastic upon hearing it.


Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!


    Subscribe Via RSS

    • Subscribe with Bloglines
    • Add your feed to Newsburst from CNET
    • Subscribe in Google Reader
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    • The latest comments to all posts in RSS


Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: