16 “But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. 17 “Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Jesus just got done pointing out that because he is now on the scene, things are changing in man’s relationship with God. The religious elite and John the Baptist’s disciples couldn’t understand why Jesus’ disciples weren’t fasting as was custom and He said, “because right now I am with them, but when I leave, then they will fast.” In this follow up example, Jesus is explaining to them that when we are in Christ, everything changes. To quote the Apostle Paul’s way of explaining it in 2 Corinthians 5:
14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
When we hear the call to accept Christ into our lives and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior, we are reborn: born from above. If we have taken this step it is because He has named us to receive His saving grace. We must understand the wonder of this miracle. In reading what Jesus said in Matthew, we need to understand that our lives not only will be different, but must be different. Too often “converted Christians” use our newfound relationship with God through Jesus as a get out of jail free ticket into heaven when we die. But Jesus is telling us here that it is life changing. It changes the way we live life here and now, it doesn’t just change the end of our story. It’s a whole new story altogether. This is what we call the “good news.” We get to live in freedom today. If all we have to look forward to is our death, that’s not living…that’s sad!
When we are “born again,” we can no longer live the old way of life with the new. Our receiving of Christ in our lives is the beginning of a wonderful transformation and restoration to the way God intended us to be before sin entered our lives. “Yeah right,” I can imagine some of you are thinking, but this is the purpose of the Holy Spirit that now resides within us. When Christ ascended into heaven, He sent His Spirit to dwell in us as our personal connection to Him. He is our counselor, comforter, healer, and guide in life. We ask Him what to do and He tells us. Our choice is whether we decide to be obedient or not. You will find, however, that the more obedient you are to His voice, the more freedom you will experience.
Sometimes we are afraid to let go of what we have always known. Change is scary and as humans we don’t like it. But we cannot go on trying to live a mixture of the two. Jesus tells us that if we try to hold onto the old life and adapt to the new, our lives will actually get worse than it was before we knew Jesus. Why? Because the Kingdom of God does not work that way. You are now filled with what Jesus calls the “new wine.” Don’t be foolish by trying to hold it in an old wineskin.