by Fr. Tommy Lane
“The world will never be the same again.” We could say that about many events in history that the historians tell us launched a new era. We could think of 9/11 in this country, the accident in Chernobyl, the world wars. We can think of new eras for the better, the ending of apartheid in South Africa, the ceasefire in Northern Ireland, the discovery of penicillin which came just a small bit too late for my grandfather who died from blood poisoning apparently due to a bee sting.
When Jesus came it was the greatest new era the world would ever see. This new era of Jesus would need new wineskins. The old wineskins could not contain the new wine of Jesus. At Jesus’ time wine was not stored in bottles but skins and the new wine still fermenting was poured into fresh skins. The gases emitted during the fermentation put pressure on the skins but as the skins were new they could expand under the pressure. Old wine skins had become hard and would burst under the buildup of gases if new wine were put into them. So new wine had to be put into new skins (Luke 5:37-38)
The Old Testament and Old Covenant gave way to the New Testament and New Covenant. Instead of the land of Israel having such importance as it did in the Old Testament, now in the New Testament the land is spiritualized, the Promised Land is not here on earth, the Promised Land now is heaven (Heb 3:7-4:11). The journey from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan is now a journey from our own personal sin to the Promised Land of Heaven. The new wine of that type of thinking would help solve problems in the land of Jesus today. One of the pillars of Jewish spiritual life in the Old Testament was the temple and its sacrifices and worship, but Jesus said he was greater than the temple (Matt 12:6) and at the moment of his death the curtain in the temple was torn in two exposing the Holy of Holies indicating that the way to the Father is now open to all, Gentiles as well as Jews (Matt 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). The old wineskin in the temple burst under the pressure of the new wine. Another pillar of Jewish spiritual life in the Old Testament was circumcision but circumcision is replaced by baptism in the New Testament (Col 2:11-13; Gal 3:23-27). Therefore as we heard today, when Jesus was launching this new era it was not the time for his disciples to fast, that time would come when Jesus had returned to the Father again (Luke 5:33).
The new era of Jesus and the new wine of Jesus is to effect all of creation, the world will never be the same again. The new wine of Jesus is to ferment in us and expand our wineskins to new vision every day, the vision of Jesus for us and our world.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013