And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins.’ Luke 5:37
When religious legalism and its pharisaical trappings reigned supreme, Jesus stepped down from the realms of glory to usher in the new age of freedom in His Name. He was the ultimate ‘New Wineskin’ spoken of in Luke 5:37.
His final gasp as He hung on the tree, “Tetelestai,” was a resounding and deafening roar in the spirit realm. It was finished! His work on earth was completed. It was time to return Home.
Death had been defeated, principalities pulverised; a new and Living Way had been secured to the Throne through His Blood. His mission as a human had been accomplished. His mission through His Spirit was about to commence.
What Jesus finished for our sakes, we now must finish for His. His final command was Go – to disciple, teach, baptise in His Name.
Unfortunately, many prefer to stay, and sign up for every class that teaches us what we should do, and how we should do it.
Reams have been written on methods of evangelism and missions; multiple programmes introduced annually – and yet, we still quake at sharing our faith coherently and passionately.
The psalmist bemoans in Psalm 119:83, “I am shrivelled like a wineskin in the smoke, but I have not forgotten to obey Your decrees.”
What did he mean? He was acknowledging that the trials of life can sometimes ravage us to the point of becoming dehydrated, wrinkled wineskins, charred from too much smoke absorbed.
Life can be difficult and painful, the stress of this fast-paced world can swiftly deplete our energy and equanimity. So who really has the time or desire to bother about others’ eternal destinies – especially in the angry and offendable social milieu we live in?
But, if we remember what our Lord decreed, “All authority in heaven and earth is Mine. So, Go! And I will be WITH you every step of the way”, then sharing the Good News takes on a whole new complexion.
No longer does evangelism become a set of do’s, don’ts, and how to’s, but a partnership and privilege of LOVE – our love for God, and His love for and in us, which we simply release on whomever the Spirit brings our way.
Love God, love your neighbour – it’s a pretty basic blueprint.
Love is the catalyst which allows the impactful sharing of Jesus and His salvific grace, because the crux of reaching out is to ultimately gather in, and make disciples for Jesus.
However, effective discipleship can only be built on the bedrock of an abiding and loving relationship.
Which is why there’s not much point going to distant lands to sing, speak, and lay hands on strangers if we won’t even bother to smile and greet our neighbour in the lift. Or recognise the foreign worker cleaning our rubbish chutes, leave aside offer a meal.
There are manifold opportunities to build Kingdom relationships right here in our backyards.
Sometimes He will nudge us to sow a simple seed in a random chat with a stranger at a café, other times He may send us with an empty sugar jar to our neighbour.
Other times, He may fly us to a refugee camp in the Middle East to release His love to a forgotten and traumatised people.
The bottom line is – when He sends us, will we go? Or will we give in to fear and apathy more than compassion and courage?
These are frightening times. Wars, and rumours of wars, pestilences and plagues, earthquakes and air crashes. How can a world spiralling down and careening into the Last Days ever know there’s hope in Jesus if we’re not there to tell and show them?
We must be like new wineskins – soft and flexible, spacious and accommodating as a whole new batch of grapes ripe for harvest.
And they’re all around us, in different colours and shapes, orientations and addictions; we only need to open our eyes.
Lord, help us to be ready and willing to receive and contain the new wine being prepared even now. Make us into new wineskins.