“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17
God was not able to pour out His Spirit in fullness under the Old Covenant. In fact, He put a veil between His manifest glory and mankind because of their sin. If sinners got too close to His holiness, judgment would break out as it did many times when they were under the cloud of His presence in the wilderness.
God didn’t love His people any less under the Old Covenant, but His touch of blessing was limited to people’s obedience to the law. The law was the old wineskin and the wine it held was limited to a few people (kings, priests, and prophets) and was only poured out while they performed their functions.
In our text, Jesus is answering a question the Pharisees had. They wondered why Jesus’ disciples weren’t keeping the fasts they kept. Jesus announced that a change had taken place with His coming. After He was gone His disciples would fast again, He explained, but it would be for a different reason. Under the Old Covenant one fasted in hopes of receiving favor; under the new covenant a person can fast as one who already has favor.
The new wineskin is the new covenant Jesus made with the Father. He died in our place so that we can be forgiven and be adopted as the very children of God. The new wine can be abundantly poured on anyone who believes in Jesus because His shed blood removes the judgment our sin would have automatically triggered under the Old Covenant.
Jesus’ death and resurrection frees His Father to pour out the Holy Spirit and allows us to receive more of Him as often as we ask. Jesus said: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (and continue to ask) Him.” (Luke 11:13)
Own your identity as a child of God and use this favored position to ask for more of heaven’s wine. This wine is key to lasting joy and healing unlike the stuff that can only give a short buzz and is often followed by a hangover.