In chapter 9 we get the analogy from Jesus of “new wine in old wineskins.” The religious leaders challenge Jesus celebration with sinners. He points to the wedding celebrations of the day and compares what’s taking place to that. As the Pharisees were fasting Jesus and his followers were feasting. In his explanation he says in verse 17 that you can’t put new wine into old wineskins because it will burst and the wine will be spilled out. Jesus did not come to offer the world another religion. He came to solve the relationship problem between God and man to bring abundant life and living water and joy and fullness. But most people just see Jesus as offering another religious system.

Josh McDowell’s testimony is a perfect illustration of this. A former agnostic, his two-volume apologetic work “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. In an appendix in Volume 1, Josh McDowell shares his testimony of his pilgrimage from agnosticism to Christianity. While he was a university student, he went and sat down at a table in the student union with six other students and two faculty members. Josh had noticed this group that met regularly at this table, and he was intrigued by something he saw in their lives. He sat down and began visiting with the female student next to him, “Tell me, what changed your lives? Why are your lives so different from the other students and professors? Why?” Josh said that woman looked him right in the eye and said two words he never thought he would hear as part of the solution to any problem, especially at a university. She said, “Jesus Christ.” McDowell said he responded, “Don’t give me that garbage. I’m fed up with religion; I’m fed up with the church; I’m fed up with the Bible. Don’t give me that garbage about religion.”

She shot back at him, “Mister, I didn’t say religion, I said Jesus Christ.” McDowell summarized the remainder of their discussion that day: “She pointed out something I’d never known before, Christianity is not a religion. Religion is humans trying to work their way to God through good works. Christianity is God coming to men and women through Jesus Christ, offering them a relationship with Himself.”

Is your faith a religion or a relationship? He’ll never fit in that old wineskin.

“Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2