New Wine in Old Bottles!

Mark 2:22 (1899 Douay-Rheims Bible)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The photo above is of an exploding bottle of red wine! I chose this photo to illustrate a Bible verse which is our featured Scripture, Mark 2:22 (1899 Douay-Rheims Bible):

     And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: otherwise 
     the wine will burst the bottles, and both the wine will 
     be spilled and the bottles will be lost. But new wine 
     must be put into new bottles.

I chose this translation because it mentions bottles instead of wineskins which is the correct translation of the wine containers in use in Jesus’ day. Of the seventeen Bible translations on my computer Bible program, e-Sword, only two translate wineskins as bottles 1889 Douay-Rheims and the King James Version. But since today we are more familiar with bottles rather than wineskins, and since bottles of wine actually can explode, bottles it is!

But what is the point? The point is that what you are going to put into the container, especailly if the it is volital, that container must be able to withstand the pressure! How does this apply to what Jesus was teaching in Mark 2:22? For a better understanding, let’s look at the expanded record of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 5:36 through 38:

     Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from 
     a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, 
     and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not 
     match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; 
     or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, 
     and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put 
     into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Jesus main point in this teaching is not about wine, bottles, or wineskins. He is emphasizing the new teaching concerning His Father’s work through the Son, and the hearts and minds that must be prepared to receive it!

What is the new work (new wine) Jesus is emphasizing?

  • First, we must understand the old work (old wine) – that which Jewish people were told to accomplish by their religious leaders! They were instructed by the Pharisees to keep the Old Testament law given through Moses at Mount Sinai (as presented in Exodus through Deuteronomy). However not only were they to keep the 613 Biblical laws the legal experts found in the Pentateuch, but the rabbis and scribes through the centuries had added so many more requirrments to the Biblical laws that, by the time of Jesus, the Jews were expected…to adhere…also to…literally thousands of additional laws that had been formulated in order to elucidate the preexisting 613 commandments.” (https://bartleylaw laws-did-the-pharisees-add.html). Here are just a few examples from rules-and-the-true-meaning-of-torah/
Hunchbacks must not bend near a church even if it hurts.Lice must not be killed on Shabbat [Sabbath].

     ✡   Hebrew newspapers must not be read on the toilet – 
          English is allowed.Jews must not donate organs to a Gentile – receiving is 
          allowed.It is permissible to degrade a woman on the kosher bus 
          lines.Violence may be used against those who distribute 
          material contrary to the Torah.

When my wife and I were in Israel years ago, we were warned not to take the Shabbat elevator on the Sabbath to or from our seventh floor room. This particular elevator was programmed to stop at every floor, doors then opened, and after three minutes they closed, and the elevator went to the next floor. This happened when the elevator was either ascending or descending. Why? According to Jewish Pharasaic law it is unlawful to light a fire on the sabbath. So an observant Jew is not permitted to press an elevator button on that day. This might cause an electrical spark, which is considered to be lighting a fire!

  • The new work (new wine) of Jesus freed the one who followed Him as Savior and Lord from trying to keep all the requirements of the law.
     Romans 3:20 (Easy-to-Read Version) – “ one can 
         be made right with God by following the law. The law 
         only shows us our sin.Galatians 3:10 (Contemporary English Version) – 
         “Anyone who tries to please God by obeying the Law 
         is under a curse. The Scriptures say, ‘Everyone who 
         doesn't obey everything in the Law is under a curse.’Galatians 3:13 – “Christ has redeemed us from the 
         curse of the law, having been made a curse for us 
         (for it is written [in Deuteronomy 21:23], ‘Cursed 
         is everyone who hangs on a tree.’)” Here, the tree 
         means the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.
  • God prophesied the coming of the new work (new wine) twice in Ezekiel, more than five hundred years before it was actualized by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Here is Ezekiel 36:26 and 27 (see also Ezekiel 11:19, 20):
        I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within 
        you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and 
        give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit with-
        in you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will 
        keep My judgments and do them.

Back to Jesus’ parable of wine and bottles: New wine (that which is unfermented) will pressurize its container as it builds up fermentation gasses! That pressure can rip apart the wineskin container of Jesus’ day, and today occasionally explode a bottle (as shown above)!

If the Holy Spirit (the third Person of the all-powerful Trinitarian God) were to come in and abide in an unprepared person, that one would be destroyed! However, if by His coming, He prepares “…a new heart and puts a new spirit within …,that one becomes a new creation in Christ, forgiven of his sins, and enabled to obey the Lord, and live in the power and holiness of that indwelling Holy Spirit! As it is written in II Corinthians 5:17, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Now, what does this mean as the New Year approaches?

  • Will you, by your own power and ability, make a resolution or two, that will probably be broken before the end of January?


  • Will you open your heart to the Lord Jesus, and let His Holy Spirit come in as new wine poured into a prepared container…YOU!

A Biblical Christmas

Luke 2:1-7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, filled with family gatherings (taking place or remembered), traditions (handed down or made new), and the giving and receiving of gifts. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, let’s not forget that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, when God came into the world as a human being to give us salvation! But even in the religious celebration of Christmas, there has crept in over the centuries a lot about the birth of our Lord that is not in the Bible! Let’s look at the event as recorded in the Bible, and see what is and what isn’t there. Our featured Scripture is seven verses, part of the most well-known Christmas story, Luke 2:1-7:

     And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out 
     from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be regis-
     tered. This census first took place while Quirinius was 
     governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone 
     to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of 
     the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, 
     which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house 
     and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his be-
     trothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while 
     they were there, the days were completed for her to be 
     delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and 
     wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, 
     because there was no room for them in the inn.

There is more to the birth narrative than just these seven verses. Here are all the references in chronological order:

  • Luke 1:26 through 38 – The angel Gabriel announces the holy conception and birth to Mary.
  • Matthew 1:18 through 25 – An angel instructs Joseph in a dream to take Mary as his wife.
  • Luke 2:1 through 7 – Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem where Jesus is born.
  • Luke 2:8 through 14 – The angelic announcement to the Bethlehem shepherds.
  • Luke 2:15 through 20 – The shepherds visit the stable to see the baby Jesus.
  • Matthew 2:1 through 12 – The wise men visit the young child Jesus.

Now, let’s look at what is and what isn’t in the Biblical Christmas story:

How old were Joseph and Mary when all this happened?

  • Joseph was not an old man, as is sometimes depicted in artistic representations. He was probably in his mid to late twenties, no more than thirty years old. He may have been a widower, and there is an interesting theory concerning Jesus’ siblings named in Mark 6:3. The Jews were amazed at Jesus’ teachings, and remarked, “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us? These could be the children of Joseph by an earlier marriage! Jewish males were often married in their later teenage years!
  • Mary was most likely a teenager, perhaps as young as thirteen, or as old as seventeen.

Jesus is called…the carpenter’s son…” in Matthew 13:55. And (see directly above in Mark 6:3) He is called “…the carpenter…” Himself.

  • Joseph is most often depicted as a wood-working carpenter. But wood was not a common building commodity in New Testament times. The Greek word for carpenter is τέκτων (pronounced tek’-tone) and while it can mean “a worker in wood,” it can also be translated “a builder.” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). It may be that Joseph was more a builder in stone than in wood!
  • Joseph had an established reputation as a builder. For in John 6:42, as Jesus ministered in Capernaum (which is twenty miles northeast of Nazareth), the people said of Him, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” In those days, twenty miles was a long distance! Many people didn’t travel that far from home during their whole life. Yet the people were quite familiar with Joseph! Apparently, Joseph was in some demand as a builder in Galilee, and he traveled to where the work was.
  • An established builder would earn about twice what a common laborer would earn. So Joseph was not a poor man, more like approaching middle class. But when Joseph and Mary offered the required sacrifice at the Jerusalem temple for Mary’s purification forty days after birth of Jesus, they offered “…a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons…” (Luke 2:24), the least expensive offering allowed under the Jewish law! (see Leviticus 12:1-4). I don’t think it was because they were so poor, but this was when they were still living in Bethlehem (away from Joseph’s job-base), and they might have been conservative concerning their resources!

The angels didn’t sing when they appeared to the shepherds! We are told in Luke 2:13 and 14, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (emphasis by underline, mine.) Still, it must have been beautiful to see and hear the angelic announcement. By the way, according to Revelation 5:9 and 15:3, there is singing in heaven!

Jesus was not born to an unwed couple!

Jewish marriage tradition required an engagement of six months to a year before the wedding took place. That would allow time for the groom to get all things in order to bring his new bride to her new residence her husband had established for her and future family. But the engagement was so binding that it was considered a part of the marriage, and could only be broken by divorce! However, the marriage was not to be intimately consummated until the bride was escorted to her new home.

  • In Matthew 1:18 through 25 we have the record of when “…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream…,” telling him to “…take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20). Joseph had planned to send Mary away secretly to avoid the humiliation of a public divorce because of infidelity! He is called “…a just man…” in Matthew 1:19 – one of only five people in the entire Bible who are called just! Being just, he wanted to save embarrassment for Mary, and even her life! For it is written in Leviticus 20:10, “…the adulterer and the adulteress…shall surely be put to death.
  • However, the tale of Mary’s infidelity seems to have been widely known! In John 8, the Pharisees were angrily conversing with Jesus. The Lord accused them in verses 40 and 41, “…now you seek to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God….You do the deeds of your father [meaning the devil – see John 8:44].” The Pharisees’ snide reply seems to hearken back to that infidelity rumor:We were not born of fornication; we have one Father — God.” (John 8:41).

There is no innkeepermentioned in the birth narrative! It is only written in Luke 2:7 that “…there was no room for them in the inn.

  • Private homes were sometimes used as inns when accommodations were needed. Also, many houses in Jesus’ day had two levels: the upper level for family living, and the lower level for the animals. It could be that Joseph and Mary found themselves in the only space available in the stable, the lower portion of a house!
  • And since “…Joseph…was of the house and lineage of David…” (Luke 2:4), perhaps they found their lowly accomodations at the home of a distant relative.

Also, there is no donkey mentioned in the whole telling of the birth of Jesus! It is just a supposition that Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem.

While the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem (about ninety miles) would not be easy, especially for a pregnant woman, the narrative does not say Mary was nine months pregnant and in labor as they approached Bethlehem! What it does say in Luke 2:5 is that “…Mary…was with child.” In the King James Version, it says she was “…great with child.” That only means that Mary was far enough along in her pregnancy that she was showing! It was probably not long before the birth that they arrived in Bethlehem, but not necessarily that same night of their arrival!

The wise men did not come to the stable! They came up to two years later! I’m not going to present all the Biblical proof for this claim. That has already been done in several Gems. A synopsis of these proofs is found in the Gem, The Timeline of Christmas – XI (December 27, 2013).

This Gem does not cover all the facts of A Biblical Christmas. And I hope what I have presented here will not take away from the holiness, splendor, and majesty of this wonderful season!

Have a blessed Christmas!