Come and explore a study on the Parable of the Wineskins. (Luke 5:36-39). The purpose of this parable is the importance of being a flexible wineskin. The Parable of the Sower expresses responding to God’s word in order to grow.

Parable of the Wineskins | Scripture and Introduction

36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5:36-39).

Not many words, but this parable is a vital key for the church and the growth of the believer.

It is interesting to note this may be the first parable spoken by Jesus. Luke mentions the word “parable”. While both the gospel of Matthew and Mark do not mention the word “parable”; it is basically the same account and thus, gives credence to being a parable.

Parable of the Wineskins | No Limit to God

The image of wineskins, which Jesus uses in this parable is foreign to our culture. Typically, we imagine the pear-shaped leather one the Spaniards used to carry wine and squirt into their mouth. This is not the wineskin Jesus refers to. Wineskins were made of whole tanned goatskins. They were tanned over fires of acacia wood where the legs and tail were cut off and have been sealed (1st Samuel 1:24; 10:3; 16:20; 25:18; 2nd Samuel 16:1). Picture this: here you have these whole goatskins with these “endlings” bulging out where the legs once were. The neck is tied off where the wine has been poured in, the whole large skin bulging almost to bursting as the carbon dioxide gas generated by the fermentation process stretches it to its limit.

There is no limit to God. And if we do not keep our heart soft, we can begin to limit God or at least His work in and around us. His hearers all know not to use the same existing skin with new wine. Thus, the wineskin of our heart must be kept soft in order to remain tender to the heart of God.

Parable of the Wineskins | The Power of God’s Word

Question: What is “new” that would affect the old or rather I should say, “the existing?” Is it “new” he is talking about or is it “different”, perhaps both? What is Jesus getting at?

Firstly, God’s Word is extraordinaire. Its power, truth and life is unlike any other. If one does not know Jesus as personal Savior, God’s Word is presented as “new”. It confronts us to let go of our old life and accept this new life God has provided in His Son, Jesus Christ. The bible reveals life without Jesus is old, stale, and crumbling. It boils down to this: “The gospel of Christ is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16).

No, Jesus did not throw out the Old Covenant. He makes this clear in the Sermon on the Mount. “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:18). Neither was Jesus always critical of the old. He tells his disciples, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matt. 13:52).

Second, God’s Word reveals to us He shows up and demonstrates His power before and in the lives of His children. We see this throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. Finally, we see it in church history. God’s Word and power are inseparable. (Ps. 62:11).

Parable of the Wineskins | Radical Gospel

Secondly, Jesus has come with a radical gospel. Indeed, this is the heart of the matter for Jesus teaching this parable. The Gospel of the Kingdom is liberating. It’s authority rules in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) and is greater than anything man has to offer. However, this kingdom Jesus brings is filled with signs and wonders. Particularly, Jesus allows place for the Spirit’s direction, power and life, not something dead that offers people nothing: no freedom, no healing or no deliverance. The Lord wants to see lives transformed and made whole. In fact, this is the message Jesus conveys earlier to his audience in the synagogue in Luke 4:18-19. Specifically, Jesus is describing what his ministry will involve or look like.

Parable of the Wineskins | Ministry

Healings and Deliverance The Sabbath

Jesus casts out an unclean spirit. (Lk. 4:33-37)

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath. (Lk. 6:5)

Peter’s Mother in-law is healed. (Lk. 4:38-39)

Healing on the Sabbath. (Lk. 6:6-11)

Many healed after Sabbath sunset. (Lk. 4:40-41)

Four fisherman become disciples [starts through a miracle].  (Lk. 5:1-11)

Jesus Cleanses a Leper. (Lk. 5:12-13)

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic. (Lk. 5:17-26)

Parable of the Wineskins | Flexibility is Key

This parable is mentioned in each of the three gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In addition, within each of those gospels the parable is placed in between the healings and deliverance and yet before Jesus decrees He is Lord of the Sabbath.

The focus (key) is the wineskin. The wineskin must be flexible to anything which may be new or different to us. In this case, the ministry of Jesus is the newness for the wineskin. Because we see or observe something different does not mean it should be rejected. The scripture passage affirms one does not “immediately desire the “new” when having drunk the old.” However, we must resist and fight against such a heart or mindset. More importantly, we should not express contemptuous language or direct non-Christlike behavior toward anyone or at anyone if their ministry involves signs and wonders. Yes, there are extremes one should be aware of, but there are also those who convey a healthy balance.

However, typically it is the manifestations that make people uncomfortable. But once again, our wineskin should be flexible to anything new or different as it relates to the context of scripture. Let us examine two scriptural passages.

Parable of the Wineskins | Biblical Passage Support

Jesus drives out an unclean spirit from a man in the synagogue. But that alone is not what totally happened. That spirit threw that person in their midst (convulsed him) and also cried out with a loud voice.” What would we do with that? Would our wineskins be inflexible? Oh, that is not God. I don’t accept that. But something “new”, something different has arrived. Listen to the response in Mark’s gospel.  27 “Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this?” (Mark 1:27).

Next Jesus says, “He is Lord of the Sabbath.” Within that context and with this parable in mind, being Lord of the Sabbath means it is a time where God gets to be among His people and it is also where He gets to call the shots. Therefore, the Lord decides how he wants to minister and set people free. Sadly, when the man actually gets healed on the Sabbath (Luke 6:6-11) some people really got bent out of shape. The religious leaders sought to govern what was done or allowable on the Sabbath, but them getting bent out of shape represents an inflexible wineskin.

New Wine may not be a smooth taste to the tongue as finely aged old wine. Sometimes it is a bitter messy, radical and unrefined taste to the tongue. It may be a bit different, but it is “alive” and transforming.

Parable of the Wineskins | The Truth

The parable is painting a picture. Luke, Mark, and John record manifestations in their gospels; while Matthew tends more to emphasize faith though of course it has some manifestations in it. But people weep, fall over, or rejoice among other things. Are we going to focus or get bent out of shape or resistant like an inflexible wineskin when we observe such manifestations? Or are we going to be thankful and trust God is setting lives free? Basically, just let God do his thing.

What happened to the religious leaders? Why are they so inflexible? This was “new” to the religious leaders; yet it was not. They were familiar with expelling evil spirits. Matthew 12:27 reads, “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?” They heard prophecy. Caiaphas being high priest, prophesied that one should die for the nation. (John 11:49-52). The real issue is Jesus “gave way” for the Spirit’s place, direction and guidance. Therefore, it made them an inflexible wineskin. Additionally, they were no longer calling the shots.

Parable of the Wineskins | The Message

The message for the disciples and us is to be uncompromising about our faith and the work of the Spirit in our lives. If our honored customs, habits, and structures stand in the way of anything “new”, it warrants the question of whether or not we are becoming an inflexible wineskin. When we become an inflexible wineskin, we have already begun to “quench” the Spirit of God. God can no longer pour forth into our lives and through our lives freely. By the way there are 3 ways we can quench the Spirit and this is one of them. Certainly, we cannot stop the Holy Spirit, but we can obstruct his flow. Think about Jesus in his hometown. The unbelief was resistant rejection. Consider, the implications. It leaves lives untouched and unchanged. Are we beginning to see the importance of this parable?

As a side note, please understand this does not mean the things are not “done decently and in order” as Paul stated in the book of Corinthians. The context there is “love” not inflexibility or place for the Spirit. Paul is dealing with “balance” Love is the guiding and abiding factor. There is no place for arrogance, pride or disrespect. We are to glorify God and love one another.

The answer is “Yes”. God will prompt you to step out and do things that are strange, new, and different. That’s the “power” of God. Personally, I am amazed about how some get bent out of shape or resistant, but they will not be convicted or concerned about their inflexibility or lack of change to the nature and character of Christ. Specifically, their anger and attitude does not bother them. Finally, why resist when the bible shows us the beauty and power of God.

Parable of the Wineskins | First Observation

There are three (wineskin) observations. First observation: Wineskins are not meant to be empty. We were created to be full of the Holy Spirit, His freshness, His life and His power.

Nothing is more disappointing than an empty wineskin. Some Christians drag around the empty skin not being sensitive or moved by the Holy Spirit that lives inside of them their entire Christian life. What they have is nominal Christianity. They are missing out on the best God has for them and the opportunities to minister to others.

Accept no substitutes. Go after the real thing. Don’t look elsewhere when God is “in” you and “next” to you trying to get your attention. You were meant to live being filled with the Spirit of God. Paul prayed for the Ephesians, “16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Parable of the Wineskins | Second Observation

Second observation: Wineskins need to be flexible. Think of Paul. Paul’s wineskin is flexible. God’s Spirit moves and bursts into Paul’s life like NEW WINE over and over again! The same with Peter and the early church. At each turn in the book of Acts, believers were open, directed and moved by the Holy Spirit. In fact, they prayed for it. (Acts 4:29-31).

Parable of the Wineskins | Third Observation

Third observation: The POINT of having a wineskin is to pour. The wineskin is a container. Its ultimate purpose was not used for preserving wine, but for pouring wine. We are filled with the Spirit so that we might minister to others. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit. . .” (John 7:38-39a).

Parable of the Wineskins | Application

We’re not a safety deposit box for the Spirit of God. We are to pour out what has been placed in us. None of this is to build our ministry as much as it is to build God’s kingdom.

Parable of the Wineskins | Conclusion

In the Parable of the Wineskins, a wineskin full of new wine is a picture of a spirit-filled Christian who is open (flexible) to God’s will and ways.