Recoiling with Horror from the Word as Preached
22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
Jesus was teaching on fasting and he never condemned the practice. Actually, he fasted often but the way in which the Jewish authorities fasted was so compulsory that it didn’t fit with a life lived in the freedom of the Spirit. Chrysostom tells us that Jesus’ preaching, just as any fresh preaching may actually make people “recoil with indignity and horror from the word as preached.” This is because the message that Jesus preached was one of servanthood and accountability before God, and not for the benefit of the religious authorities.
The Jewish leaders had become stiff, just like old wineskins and they could not stretch to adjust to the new wine that Jesus brought with him. His message of servanthood was not something that they wanted to hear and nor could they celebrate his presence as their Messiah. He didn’t fit the paradigm and they simply found themselves frustrated with him and the activities of his disciples. They seemed to be constantly breaking the rules, pushing the wineskins beyond the bounds. The leaders were about to burst because they truly did “recoil with…horror” when they heard him preach.
When the Holy Spirit is poured out among God’s people there can be a time of stretching and growth that seems to pus the boundaries. It’s when one of those sermons hits a little too close to home and a bit of conviction begins to gnaw at us that we too may recoil with horror. What do we do? We try to justify ourselves or our responses. We attack the preacher of the word and convince ourselves that he/she was wrong. This is exactly what the religious officials did to Jesus!
God wants to pour out his Spirit today on all flesh and in doing so the new wine may not take on the same shape as before. If our wineskins become old and inflexible then they will burst when filled with new wine, but if we remain spiritually fresh our wineskins will remain pliable. It is then that we can take on a new shape and new channels will be exposed for the Spirit to work in and through us. We may not fast when others fast. Instead, we may feast when they fast!
“Our Daily Homily” by F. B. Meyer says that if we live and work within the new wineskins we may even frustrate those within our churches. He goes on to say, however, that we must not think that new wineskins are of our own making. We are not to “follow the promptings and suggestions of our undisciplined wills.” We are to ask the Lord to show us what we are to do and “let the methods in which our hearts’ devotion shall express itself be so lovely, so befitting, so helpful to the world, and so full of God, that men [and women] may recognize” the hand of God and adore him alone! God’s love is not to be spilled, but stored up in our new wineskins for the “refreshment of others through our lives.” This wine which fills the new wineskins is the overflowing love of God…and our prayer is that God might give us that love so that we do not recoil with horror at the true Word which is preached.
Lord, please keep my pliable to your leading. Amen.