A man of folk-lore and legend in the Midwest is John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. During the 1800’s he wandered the country-side of large parts of Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia planting apple orchards…some of which still stand today. This American pioneer nurseryman spent his lifetime scattering seed in hopes of a harvest someday. In these verses, Jesus is likening the kingdom of God to the mystery of germination and growth and what man’s responsibility is in it all. We are told to plant or scatter seed…the Good News of the Gospel Message, and then to allow God to do the rest. For God’s kingdom grows in His time, in His way…always moving forward. So just like Johnny Appleseed, we are to be sowers of hope and leave the progress up to God.
Old wine-skins were hard, rigid, stiff, and unyielding. Does that sound like you or someone you know? On the other hand, new wine-skins are flexible and malleable…able to receive the newly pressed wine. They change as the fermentation process happens…they expand as the wine ferments…finally stopping when the wine is perfect inside. As Believers we must never stop growing until the God-given purpose inside us is perfected. At the wedding feast in Cana what did the Master of the Banquet tell the Bridegroom after tasting the water Jesus had turned into wine? “You have saved the best for last!” I originally wrote this back in 2008…but it still remains pertinent today. Just as you don’t pour new wine into old wine-skins, you don’t sew a new patch on an old garment, (Mark 2:21)…or both will be destroyed. The journey of a Christian is a pathway of newness…new covenant, new hearts, new minds, new selves…of the process of constantly putting off the old and putting on the new. For when we stop growing in the Lord, we become stagnant and unusable. The Lord is looking for new vessels to contain His new works. The question is, are you willing to be that new wine-skin?
In this verse it tells us how we should approach evangelism and share the Good News of Jesus with others. It’s about being encouraging not convicting…listening not preaching…and having conversations not sermonizing. It’s also about not having an “us versus them” mindset, but rather thinking “we” as a group. Finally, it’s about living with integrity but also being vulnerable and transparent about our own struggles. For none of us is a perfect Christian without faults and flaws. And when we can show this side of us…we become more believable.