Thursday, September 3, 2009

Daily - 9/3/09

Luke 5:33-39

33 The Scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink."

34 Jesus answered them, "Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?

35 But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days."

36 And he also told them a parable. "No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.

37 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.

38 Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.

39 (And) no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, 'The old is good.'"

There are two teachings going on here. In the first (v33-35), Christ is saying that there is no need for fasting while HE is there. The time for fasting will come after he's gone.

The second (v36-39) is a parable describing the old and new covenants. The bottom line is that Christ is mediator of the new covenant, and is the "new wine." The new wine requires a new wineskin -- one that has become new by God's grace, through faith in Jesus.

Today we don't deal with wineskins, so we really don't know what Christ is talking about. I found the following cultural background on the web, it helps explain things.

Winemaking and Wineskins

The image of wineskins that Jesus uses in his parable is foreign to our culture. The only leather wine container we can imagine is the tear-shaped leather bota that Spaniards use to carry wine and squirt it into their mouth. But that is very unlike the wineskin Jesus refers to.

Wine was made by treading barefoot on the grapes in a wine press, a square or circular pit hewn out of the rock, or dug out and lined with rocks and sealed with plaster. The juice then flowed through a channel into a lower vessel, a winevat which functioned as a collecting and fermenting container for the grape juice or must.

In the warm climate of Palestine, grape juice began to ferment very quickly and there was no easy way to prevent fermentation. After the first state of fermentation had taken place in the winevat, the wine was separated from the lees (that is, sediment of dead yeast, tartar crystals, small fragments of grape skins, etc.) and strained through a sieve or piece of cloth. After four to six days it was poured into lined clay jars or animal skins for storage and further fermentation.

Fermentation in the wineskin might continue for another two to four months until the process slows down and stops. By that time the skin has been stretched to its limit. The alcohol is probably about 12%, and the collagen protein that gives the leather its stretching ability has been stretched out, and probably denatured by the alcohol, destroying its natural resiliency. The skin's ability to contract and stretch again has been lost.

New Wine in Old Wineskins (5:37-38)

While we aren't familiar with the details of wineskins, Jesus' hearers are. He didn't have to explain fermentation and the aging of leather. They know what he means.

"And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins." (5:37-38)

Here's the same contrast of old and new that we saw in the parable of the patched garment. His point is the same: you can't join the new to the old or you'll ruin both the new wine and the old skin. The gas pressure from the fermentation is eventually so great that the inflexible old skin ruptures, and the new wine gushes out onto the ground and is wasted. His hearers all know not to use old skins with new wine.

They understand.

Link For Cultural Background