Jesus is called the Messenger of a New Covenant that would emerge from the Old.
Still at the dinner with “tax collectors and sinners,” probably at the home of Matthew, newly chosen as a disciple, Jesus taught about the New Covenant using the analogies of new and old wine and wineskins. We are told that wine, the fermented juice of the grape, was a safer thing to drink than water in the first century. To keep the wine at peak potency, animal skins were used as containers. New wine was still in the fermenting process and would burst old wineskins that could no longer expand. New wine required new wineskins that were still soft and stretchable.
Power but not Flexibility
The Covenants before the Jesus Covenant, those of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and King David, could not rightly be called flexible. Worship happened in specified times and places with prescribed sacrifices given in great detail. Like old wine, it was powerful stuff but there was little room or need for innovation. Old wineskins were required.
Jesus changed all that when He said “a time was coming and now is” when true worshipers would worship God not in time and place but in Spirit and Truth. The Old Covenant structures of the Tabernacles and Temples would be replaced by a spiritual house—the Church—the Calvary-cleansed People of God, the Habitation of God by His Spirit. Churches have sprung up in the strangest places all over the world because of this flexible New Covenant which adapts itself to the cultures and languages of the believers. This New Covenant wine—the moving of the Holy Spirit—is such powerful stuff that new songs and methods and signs and wonders are needed to transport it from place to place.
The Disciples of John
Those who had repented in response to the call of John to prepare for the Kingdom of God asked Jesus a sincere question about fasting. These were not critics or cynics; they were sincere seekers of the Kingdom. They had patterned their lives after the serious message of John: a life of repentance and the disciplining of fleshly desires for the sake of the Kingdom. They were confused by the joy they saw in the followers of Jesus. It was like a new and potent wine leading to laughter and celebration. Why this difference in lifestyle?
Jesus was with them every day! His joy was complete and infectious. Blind people were seeing again and deaf people were hearing as people who once could not speak were singing. Those once lame were dancing as those formerly possessed by demons sat smiling in the presence of Jesus. This was a time for celebration, for feasting not fasting. Those times would come and the disciples of Jesus would do their duty, but not yet.
The New Covenant supplied garments of praise made from the new cloth of redeemed lives. The Spirit flowed from vats in the hearts of those whose sins were forgiven and the old ways could not contain the new.
The dinner at Matthew’s house was a foretaste of the Kingdom to Come, the one Jesus told them to pray for every day. For a moment it was on earth as it was in heaven.
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
“Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts.
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Lord Jesus, You are the Messenger of the New Covenant! You made this covenant in Your own blood, making it possible for us to worship in spirit and truth. You cleanse our hearts from sin, making them fitting hosts for the residence of the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is peace and freedom and joy! This the new wine of the New Covenant! Help me to never substitute earthly wine but to drink deeply of the New Wine kept in these wonderful, creative new wineskins! You are the Joy of My Desire! I Love You, Lord Jesus!
Joy of My Desire
Words and Music: Jennifer Randolph
Joy of my desire, all-consuming fire.
Lord of Glory Rose of Sharon Rare and sweet
You are now my peace, Comforter and friend,
Wonderful, so beautiful, You are to me.
I worship You in spirit and in truth.
Lord, I worship You in spirit and in truth.
There will never be a friend as dear to me as You.