Let’s read those interesting verses: “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine be put into new wineskins” (NKJV). The Lord loved to illustrate spiritual truth with simple examples from everyday life and in these two practical illustrations He was teaching us that you can’t mix the OLD COVENANT OF LAW with the NEW COVENANT OF GRACE.

In verse 18 we get the background which led the Lord Jesus to give these parables: “The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were FASTING. Then they came and said to Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples DO NOT FAST?’” The disciples of John and the Pharisees were still practicing FASTING because under the OLD COVENANT OF LAW they were taught to “deny themselves” in times of sorrow (see Leviticus 16:29; 23:26-29). In verse 19 the Lord tells them why His disciples didn’t fast: “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.” His presence with them was a cause for JOY, NOT SORROW, so the Law was not in force when they were occupied with Christ and thus they did not fast. The Lord had come to introduce His followers to the NEW COVENANT OF GRACE and fasting, as prescribed by the LAW, would be “out of place.” This reminds me of John 1:17, “For the LAW was given by Moses, but GRACE and truth came through Jesus Christ. In short, with the coming of Christ LAW was going to be replaced by GRACE!

The Lord then used this occasion (where some were still “under the LAW”) to show them that just as you can’t patch up an OLD GARMENT with a NEW PIECE OF CLOTH, you can’t add GRACE to LAW, for in doing so both will be useless and ruined. The NEW COVENANT OF GRACE was not intended to be “added to the LAW” in order to make men righteous before God. The LAW served its purpose in revealing man’s sin and their need of a Savior, as we see in Romans 3:19-20: “Now we know that whatever THE LAW says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in His sight, for BY THE LAW IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN.” But it was GRACE that would provide men with the righteousness of God, as we see in verses 21-24: “But now the righteousness of God APART FROM THE LAW is revealed…even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

The NEW WINE and the OLD WINESKINS teach the same lesson, for if one tries to MIX GRACE and LAW together, it will only lead to RUIN. Again, Christ came to show men that salvation is now possible through GRACE alone, “apart from LAW.” To mix these two together will leave men without God’s salvation and in the end they will face ETERNAL RUIN in the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:15). In Luke’s account Jesus added these words, “And no one, having drunk OLD WINE, immediately desires NEW; for he says, ‘The OLD IS BETTER’” (Luke 5:39). This is a sad commentary on the human heart, for it teaches us that man prefers to be “under LAW” instead of “under GRACE.” The PRIDE of their heart convinces them they can keep the law and make themselves righteous before God. In essence they are choosing LAW over GRACE and are basically saying, “The old is better.”  (436.1)  (DO)