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Stubborn Old Wineskins

Do you have a problem with change? I know I do. 

Even now, as I’m writing this, it's hard to switch over from Designer Maddie (I’m trying to make a Handiworks business card) to Writer Maddie.

So if I drift off and start writing about font sizes and centering images and a bunch of digital mumbo-jumbo… 

Well, you can’t snap me out of it. Because you are not here with me as I’m writing this. But you are my faithful readers, to whom I am grateful.

(Don’t worry, Writer Maddie will adapt as Designer Maddie takes a break). 

So after that sloppy segway, I guess we’d better change gears (see what I did there?) and talk about change. 

Do you like change? Because seriously, even the good changes - a new job, house, relationship, etc - are kind of tumultuous for me. 

I’m stubborn, stuck in my own ways, and it’s because I cling to control like a lifeline. 

Even if God is doing something new and good in my life, a part of me still wants the old and bad. Because I’m used to it. And truth be told, I’m more comfortable there… where I know the rules and regulations and rule the roost. 

Somehow, I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle. Surrendering to God is tough, and it’s certainly not a new thing humankind has to wrestle with. 

Last night, my Bible study group was looking at Mark 2 and wow, was it fascinating. You see, basically the entire chapter is scene after scene of altercations between Jesus and the Pharisees (aka, the fancy religious teachers). 

From healing to feasting, fasting to resting, these twenty-eight verses are full of conflict.

What my group kept noticing was that, no matter what good thing Jesus did, he was getting bashed for it. You know why? 

The Pharisees despised Jesus because he did not follow their rules. 

He healed when they said He had no authority (He’s God; of course He does!), feasted with people they didn’t like (everyone needs a Doctor, after all), didn’t fast but feasted (hello? The Son of God is in the house! It’s celebration time!), and wasn’t resting to their standards.  

Now, who does that sound like? Maybe us? Just a tiny little bit? 

Jesus’ response to the Pharisees' stubborn criticism is kind of odd, honestly. He says…

“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” (Mark 2:22). 

(If you have no idea what He’s talking about, don’t worry, I didn’t either.)

So, for some quick context, back in Biblical times, wineskins lasted once; the grapes’ fermentation process would stretch the skins so much that, if you tried to use them again, they would literally explode. Everything would be ruined

Now, it is common to interpret the old wine as the Old Testament laws, brushing them aside because Jesus is on the scene. But, Jesus says that He did not come to “abolish the Law or the Prophets… but to fulfill them” (Matt 5:17). 

So, if the Old Testament still has its value, what on earth are these old wine skins?

They are the Pharisees' legalistic, self-righteous ways, of course!

They boast about following all 600-something laws, thinking they are better than everyone else because of it. They are haughty and controlling, viewing themselves as gods. 

Jesus offers them new wine - His sacrificial blood shed for us, His eternal life and freedom, His transformative work - and yet, they reject Him because of their own old ways

All too often, we are like those Pharisees, aren’t we?

We have made rules and shortcuts to make sure that we never fall short. We keep ourselves tucked away in a nice little comfortable (confining) box, elevating our plans and thoughts and adoring our truth… 

Instead of His. 

Truth, plans, ways. All of which are higher than ours. 

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I don’t wanna be stuck with some stinky old wineskin. God has offered us new, wondrous, life-altering wine. Why on earth would we turn Him down? 

If we don’t like change, well, guess Who’s constant? And if we don’t want to give up control, we should probably think about how our plans are turning out (if you’re like me, not very well!). 

We are not God. We are not in control. Change is unavoidable. And thank goodness for that.

Because changing the old wine into new wine? What a marvelous change that can be. 



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