Mark 2:22, New Wine in Old Wineskins

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

//Wine is an important symbol in the Bible, well understood by its original readers and writers. It is a symbol of the messianic age, when there would be wine aplenty. It is impossible that the symbolism of Jesus’ parable could have been misunderstood by his audience. This promise of abundant wine can be interpreted metaphorically as well as literally, as wine represents the Spirit in the messianic age.

It’s interesting to note, however, that when Matthew repeats this parable, he adds a little something to the end. Both are preserved together, Matthew notes. Why this redaction? Why is it important to emphasize that the wineskin is preserved alongside the wine?

Probably, it has to do with Matthew’s respect for the Law. For example, it is Matthew who reports that not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law, until all is fulfilled. So Matthew makes sure we understand that the wine cannot survive without the wineskin; the Spirit cannot survive without the Law.

Yet there is a difference. This is not the old law, and this is not an old wineskin. The Jewish expectation was that when the Messiah arrived, he would bring a new law. (Check out my books along this topic here if interested). Thus, Matthew tells of Jesus standing on a mountain, like Moses on Sinai, dictating a new law (Matthew 5-7).  It’s during this sermon on the mount that Jesus says not one jot or tittle will disappear from the law until all is fulfilled. The key word here is fulfilled, as the verse before makes clear:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.–Matthew 5:17

The point is, in Matthew’s theology, Jesus did fulfill the law, and then he presented a new law. You might say that in the new age we do not flit around willy-nilly at the whim of the Spirit (or, perhaps, how we believe the Spirit to be leading us)—we must still remain grounded in Law. The new law.

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