top of page
  • Writer's pictureChristian Insights 4 You

Wineskins: Jesus' Radical Call to Renewal

Description: Old wine skins can’t take new wine – and God's kingdom is life-changing wine. Discover the messages for today behind Jesus’ simple parable.


In the bustling streets of ancient Palestine, amid the whispers of tradition and the weight of religious legalism, Jesus walked, teaching profound truths that challenged the status quo. Among his many teachings, one stands out as both metaphorically rich and profoundly transformative: the parable of the old wineskins and new wine.

Wine and wineskins

In the Synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – Jesus warns against the folly of pouring new wine into old wineskins. In those days, wine was often stored in wineskins – animal hides that could stretch as the wine fermented. Unable to handle the pressure of fermentation, old and brittle skins would burst, spill their precious contents and render both wine and skins useless.

This simple metaphor speaks volumes about the nature of Jesus’ ministry and the essence of his message. He would impart powerful wisdom that transcended the rigid structures of religious tradition. His talk would be of new beginnings, radical transformations, and the need to embrace the realities of God's kingdom.

Behind the parable

New wine emphasises this radical aspect of Jesus' teachings. By the time he began his ministry, generations of Jewish religious leaders had crafted elaborate systems of rules and regulations. These traditions had become deeply entrenched, burdening the people with heavy yokes of legalism. But Jesus had come to fulfil the law, not add to it. He challenged the religious establishment by embodying a message of grace, love, and liberation.

This embodiment could be clearly seen in Jesus' ministry. It was strongly marked by inclusivity, compassion, and a relentless pursuit of justice. He healed the sick on the Sabbath, dined with tax collectors and sinners, and challenged the religious elite to examine their hearts and motives. His teachings cut through the layers of man-made tradition, revealing the heart of God's intentions.

Flexibility and openness

The parable also reminds us of the importance of flexibility and openness to change. Just as old wineskins couldn't contain new wine, rigid adherence to tradition can stifle the movement of God's Spirit in our lives and communities.

We’re called to be like new wineskins, flexible and receptive to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit. This means letting go of preconceived notions, embracing diversity, and being willing to step out of our comfort zones.

This is very easily said, but not always so easily done. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to give us courage, humility, and the willingness to let go of the familiar. This means questioning our assumptions, listening to voices that challenge us, and allowing God to work in unexpected ways. In short, our resistance to change has to be overcome by weightier matters – love, justice, mercy, and faithfulness among them.


The parable of the old wineskins and new wine serves as a powerful reminder of Jesus' radical call to renewal. It challenges us to break free from the constraints of tradition and legalism, and to embrace the realities of God's kingdom.

In a world so desperately in need of hope and healing, we can be like new wineskins, filled with the new wine of God's Spirit. We can overflow with love, grace, and God’s power. Like this, we can transform the world – even if it’s just one person at a time.

Picture attribution: Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing, and FreeBibleimages.


Related Posts

See All


bottom of page