Needing a couple of days of rest from work and ministry, I along with Julie, Hugh and Monte made the trek through the Hill Country to Fredricksburg. This is a Central Texas town that hosts a variety of wineries and is just the sort of place you want to go to when you need a weekend to rest.
We sampled several wines. Some were made in Texas with locally grown grapes. Others were imported from wineries around the world. My favorite was a Mar-Red, imported from Israel. At one stop, we visited with a well-known winemaker who gave us an education for one hour about wine making. Par for the course, I had many off the wall questions and he was gracious to answer them all. I wanted to know about the entire process from start to finish -from seed to the glass. As always for me, the natural way of things tend to
point to a greater understanding of spiritual things. Here’s what I learned.
What happens when you pour water into a wineskin? You’re right…nothing! The water just sits there wet and still. But what happens when you pour water into an empty vessel that’s meant for sanctification? With Jesus, that water turns to wine. In the same way, to be born again is as drastic a change as dark to light or even water to wine. The old pattern of thinking has gone and the new transformation has come.
However, if you try to pour new wine into an old wineskin, being stiff and dry, the skin will break and all the wine is spilled out on the ground and lost. The old wineskin now becomes useless which leads me to believe an old wine skin is only good for holding old wine or perhaps even just hanging on the wall. On the other hand, a new wineskin is moist and soft and pliable. As the fermenting process continues with the fresh wine, the new skin is able to move and expand and stretch with the effervescence of the wine. So too, the born again believer is able to stretch and grow with the effervescence of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God within.
Characteristics of a new wine skin are humility, thankfulness, childlike wonder, a repentant heart, a desire for change and a heart for others. The evidence of new wine is the outpour of love and mercy that can only come from a thankful, repentant heart. Suddenly, a shift from self and selfishness moves us to a new place of honestly loving and caring and stopping for those in need. The effervescence and percolating wine within bends and shapes us back to our original design. We become more outward focussed instead of inward focussed.
Worldly pride, as well as religious pride, will walk by the unclean every time, hissing, accusing and justifying. But new wine sees into the darkness without fear and willingly sacrifices time and money and self without limits or constraint. Quiet and powerfully, the new wine in us motivates us to seek out the lost and hidden treasure in people everywhere. Something in us like grapes to wine has definitely changed. Jesus painted the ultimate masterpiece of selflessness for us by willingly going to the cross, taking the punishment due us upon himself and offering His life as a sacrifice in place of ours.
Today, He offers us a drink of new wine. New wine is freedom. New wine is hope. New wine is purpose. New wine is significance. New wine is life. New wine is love. New wine is joy. New wine is peace. New wine is healing. New wine is salvation. The way is simple and without cost. The corkscrew to new wine is placing all your faith and trust in Jesus. He beckons us to come to Him as an empty vessel longing to be filled. Scriptures teach that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Please hear my desperate and loving shout, you must be born again. Faith is the key. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. New wine is just a prayer away. Where do you start? On your knees is a good place, saying Jesus, I want to be born of the Spirit. New wine is knowing and walking with Jesus. It’s good news and all are invited. All are welcome. Jesus has saved the best for last!
So together we raise our glass to honor, to remember and to give thanks to the only One, Jesus Christ who gives us eternal life.
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.