The New Wine Given to Each Generation

A Sermon given on the commemoration day of St. John of Shanghai, Pskov Cave Monastery, July 2, 2021


In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The task of an Orthodox Christian living a life filled with trials and acquiring the knowledge of God, is the preservation of his faith, and the acceptance of everything new that the Lord Himself gives us in our lives. This is not a simple task. Today the Lord Jesus Christ teaches His disciples about this in the Gospel reading we heard—that it is necessary to preserve the old, which was handed down to us by our fathers, but also to accept the new that the Lord gives to our generation in this life.

The Lord gives us this example: And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles (Mk. 2:22). Everything is falling apart—it’s all spilling out and being destroyed. Christ’s contemporaries understood very well that newly made wineskins are supple and elastic, while old wineskins are dried out and crusty. Old wine no longer ferments, and so you can pour it into old wineskins. If the wineskins are not elastic and do not stretch with the fermentation of new wine they will crack, and the wine they contain will spill out and go to waste.

According to the Savior’s words, we are called to preserve all that God Himself, the Church, and our fathers have given us as an inheritance. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (Mt. 5:17). Every generation must come to know something new from God that is given to that generation as new knowledge, new experience; it is as if we must have the feeling of it run through our souls, and apprehend it. Before us is the task of understanding what is from God and what is from this world and the devil, then accept what is God’s and reject what is from the enemy, what is harmful to people’s souls. It is very frightening when a generation does not apprehend the revelation and knowledge from God that He gives to that generation—which is what happened with the Jews, Pharisees and Sadducees who did not accept the revelation that God sent down to them. These wineskins were crusty and old, and they broke open. The Old Testament people did not accept the most important thing, thinking that they were preserving piety and faith. And they destroyed it! They themselves perished, and drew along with them all those who trusted them.

New wine always comes to a new generation. We are called to accept the grace of this new wine through the spirit of discernment and faith. And woe to us if we reject this grace, because we thereby reject Christ—as it happened in history to the Pharisees and Sadducees, the priests, righteous ones and ascetics who did not see what the Lord was manifesting to them. This is precisely why our great elder, Archimandrite John (Krestiankin) said, “The main thing in spiritual life is faith is God’s Providence and discernment with counsel.” May we all have this continually. Amen.

Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Pskov and Porkhov
Translation by Nun Cornelia (Rees)


Here you can leave your comment on the present article, not exceeding 4000 characters. All comments will be read by the editors of OrthoChristian.Com.
Enter through FaceBook
Your name:
Your e-mail:
Enter the digits, seen on picture:

Characters remaining: 4000

to our mailing list

* indicates required