Persevering to Breakthrough

Living in a northern climate, we are in winter already. Having the blessing of a wood burning fireplace in the family room I have spent some time lately splitting wood. I had some large pieces of birch aging in my backyard for a couple of years. These large logs averaged about 30-35 centimetres across (12-14 inches) and were about 45 centimetres (18 inches) high. I waited until the weather was below freezing to do my splitting because even though there is very little moisture in them, they are easier to split in colder weather.

Given the size of these logs it was a real challenge and I considered getting out the chainsaw to cut them into shorter pieces. However, I never did, I just persevered in my splitting. It is hard work and I split about ten large logs over two sessions. At times I concluded some would simply not split as they had large knots from branches, but then as I persevered, they did. 

If you have spent any time splitting logs you are aware of how difficult it can be. At times the axe gets caught in a log and is hard to extricate. There can be a feeling of futility at times, yes, I felt this. However, the encouragement comes when you see a small crack appear down the side of the log. Even if it is only a quarter of the way you know that if you continue it will get wider and longer and the log will split. At times you will have a very stubborn unyielding piece of log that seems like it will never split and then you strike just the right blow and the pieces seem to burst apart and you now have two or three smaller pieces rather than one large one to deal with. It is much easier to split the remaining smaller pieces.

So, now let us look at how we can draw something of spiritual value from a log splitting experience. In writing this I was thinking of David. His story begins in 1 Samuel 16 where Samuel anointed him as king to replace Saul. In spite of being mocked by some of his older siblings he soon starts his journey to the throne by killing Goliath and subsequently serving Saul. In time out of jealousy Saul drove David away and then over a period of years pursued him to kill him. David had opportunities to kill Saul but refused, trusting the Lord to deal with him.

We pick the story up in 1 Samuel 29. David had fled to seek refuge among the Philistines with king Achish and now all the Philistines were gathering together to battle Israel and David and his men were set to go with them. To this point while seemingly serving Achish David had secretly been venturing out and raiding the enemies of Israel. David however has no way out of this battle with Israel. That is until the other Philistine lords refused to allow David and his men to go with them into the battle against Saul and David and his men are forced to separate from the Philistine army and return to Ziklag.

It is in this pending battle between the Philistines and Israel that Saul and Jonathan will die and the army of Israel will be defeated. David of course does not know this. When he and his men return to their stronghold at Ziklag they discover that the Amalekites have raided their camp, burned their fortress and taken everyone captive, including the families of the men with David.

Consider what David has been through. As a youth he was anointed king, became a warrior, served Saul and served the Lord. Hs loyalty has been rewarded by betrayal, a king hunting him to kill him and being forced to live at various places in the wilderness. In addition to his family and some loyal warriors he has also had the privilege of providing leadership to the discouraged and disgruntled who have come to him from Israel. At this point he is about 30 years of age so it has been well over a decade since he was anointed king and while he now has wives and children he is still a fugitive.

Though David has been faithful in following the Lord what was promised when Samuel anointed him king has certainly not been realized. Now we have the response of those he has been leading when they find their families have been taken captive and their camp burned.

6  Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6 (NKJV)

David’s own men want to stone him! However David continues his pattern and looks to the Lord. Like trying to split a stubborn log, after all David has been through, though he is unaware of it, his perseverance and faithfulness are about to lead to breakthrough. The Lord is about to undertake on his behalf and deal with Saul. This is David’s final test before becoming king.

In our own lives we likely have unfulfilled promises from the Lord and have had various tests and trials. If we have been faithful to steward these promises then we can anticipate a breakthrough. Let’s look for just a little crack in the log and persevere until we see His hand move on our behalf!

Sowing in any Season

Scripture tells us the following.

12  Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. Genesis 26:12 (NKJV)

The latter part of the verse, ‘and the LORD blessed him’ is one of those ‘no kidding’ statements. To sow seed in a time of famine and reap an abundant harvest requires the Lord’s blessing. Some context is helpful. As the region entered into famine Isaac received a specific word from the Lord.

2  Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. 3  Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4  And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5  because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:2-5 (NKJV)

Isaac was being blessed because of the obedience of his father, Abraham. His later natural harvest was a prophetic picture of the spiritual promise, ‘in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.’ We know this was fulfilled when through Jesus salvation was made available to the nations. Applying it to our lives, Jesus our elder brother sowed His life on the cross and reaped the lives of all believers – past, present and future, as a harvest.

Jesus may call us to sow no matter our season. Decades ago I heard a missionary share how the Lord sent him into Cambodia in the late 1970’s when the Khmer Rouge were slaughtering everyone and all the Westerners were fleeing the country (the Khmer Rouge killed 1.5 – 2 million people, roughly a quarter of Cambodia’s population from 1975-78). He saw a great harvest of souls from sowing the gospel in the country against all natural odds.

Jesus calls us to sow seeds and stated the following regarding sowing His own life in the crucifixion.

23  But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:23-25 (NKJV)

As we hear Jesus heart and make a decision to lay down our own lives and agendas let us seek His wisdom for where we are to sow. As we seek where to sow we can reflect on the incredible capacity that lies with seeds. In the image below we see the ongoing fruit of a small seed being sown in a difficult place.

A Right Harvest

Growing up there were nine of us in a small house. There were six of us children, my parents and my grandfather. We lived on the edge of small town and my grandfather had us plant about half an acre of garden every spring. Half was potatoes and the rest a variety of vegetables ranging from corn to cucumbers. Harvesting cucumbers is an unpleasant task, particularly if like me you find even the smell of a fresh cucumber hard to take. However, the harvest was important as we stored carrots, potatoes, turnips and other things over the winter to sustain us and my mother froze or canned many things from the garden.

Just as we do naturally, so spiritually we should desire a bountiful harvest. In our walk with Jesus we will reap what we have sown so being wise in sowing is critical in the process leading to harvest.

So let me go back to growing up and how we arrived at a harvest. As a young boy I much preferred playing with friends or hanging out in the forest by myself rather than working in the garden. Yet there were choices to be made and my mother was good at making them for us! We engaged in a process – the preparing of the soil, the planting of the various seeds, then the weeding and watering that took place over the summer. If all of this was done well and the weather cooperated there was a bountiful harvest in the fall.

Obviously the primary factor in what we harvested depended on what was sown. I like raw rutabaga. If you have never heard of it the vegetable is like a small turnip with, in my opinion, better flavour. However, if we never planted any there wasn’t much point in looking forward to consuming some in the fall.

So now let us look more closely at what we see in scripture about spiritual sowing and reaping. For our purposes the main thing we learn is in Luke 8. Here Jesus placed before us the principle of sowing and reaping and said that what was sown in our hearts was the word, His word.

11  “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:11 (NKJV)

When we look at the scriptural practice we are assured that when we sow to the spirit we will reap a spiritual harvest if we remain faithful. Paul put it this way.

7  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:7-9 (NKJV)

Paul said we will reap what we sow and Jesus said that what we sow is His word. In being very practical we can look at what we are sowing into our lives regarding healing, revival, holiness or a variety of other spiritual areas. If we are called to evangelism, teaching, intercession or pastoral ministry we will reap in those areas as we sow into them in our lives. We can look at whether we are planting seeds that will produce a harvest of maturity and what we are sowing into our spirit and the lives of those we come in contact with.

One of the things my grandfather did was that coming out of harvest he would begin selecting and preparing seeds for the following spring. He selected the best seeds from the fall to be used in the spring for the next crop. As we reap a spiritual harvest we can look at how we can reinvest our seed through time in His word, in prayer, in sitting with Him and in loving Him.

We choose our harvest by selecting where and what we sow.

Love and Truth

In our current rancorous and escalating culture wars the greatest casualty seems to be truth. Jesus walked in unconditional love. John said that God is love and I think that those of us who know Him would agree. Even many who don’t know Him extol Jesus as an example of love. What I think we can miss if we are not careful is that Jesus also walked on the earth in uncompromising truth! The idea of truth is highlighted in the scriptures below.

10  Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. 11  Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven. 12  Yes, the LORD will give what is good; And our land will yield its increase. 13  Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway. Psalm 85:10-13 (NKJV)

16  And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:16-17 (NKJV)

In Psalm 85 above truth and righteousness are linked. Righteousness conveys the idea of right conduct but it is right conduct based on His standards not ours, for example the moral precepts in the Ten Commandments or the calls to godly living in the Sermon on the Mount. We see examples of this in Jesus earthly ministry. He called us to hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6) and said our priority should be to seek above other things His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). When we do this we are embracing truth because we cannot separate truth from righteousness.

We can see more in the gospels because Jesus didn’t avoid difficult truths. In the reference from John grace and truth are linked. Jesus graciously offers forgiveness if we fail and sin but He provide no license to continue in it. In the well-known example of the woman caught in adultery we see Jesus grace and mercy when He does not condemn the woman but instead offers forgiveness. However consider His parting words to the woman “go and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). Jesus called her sin what it was, sin.

Another example from John is the man who was healed at the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus healed the man and left but later sought him out and challenged him.

14  Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” John 5:14 (NKJV)

The truth is that sin has consequences and in a season when we are being told by our culture to not judge or challenge popular cultural we need to embrace our calling to follow Jesus and speak truth. As Jesus did and Paul exhorted (Eph. 4:15) we are to speak the truth in love, but we are called to speak. When we respond to the call of Jesus to demonstrate both love and truth then truth springs out of the earth and righteousness looks down from heaven.

The Place of Perspective

In this season we have need of perspective. In 1 Samuel 17 we have laid out for us a key to victory in the battles we face. In this encounter the Philistines gathered to battle Israel and Goliath was coming out every day and challenging someone to come out and fight him as the representative of Israel.

As a nation, from King Saul on down everyone was hoping someone would take on Goliath, and win. They, like Goliath, seemed to view themselves as the armies of Israel. Part of Goliath’s ongoing taunt was as follows.

10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 1 Samuel 17:10 (NKJV)

In essence Goliath said we have our army and you have yours. Goliath saw the armies as representing two different nations or people groups.

David had a different perspective.

26  Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 (NKJV)

David referred to Goliath as ‘this uncircumcised Philistine (circumcision was the sign of the covenant) and he referred to the army of Israel as, ‘the armies of the living God.’ Israel had a covenant and God was their defender. This perspective gave David great confidence.

So in view of what is happening in our culture there is clearly a need to shift our perspective. The result of David coming and bringing a different perspective was that a nation was shifted into action and they routed their enemies. This type of experience is not unique to David, it is a pattern in scripture. We can also look to John the Baptist. He came to a nation that was awaiting their Messiah but it was all future based. John came with a different perspective.

1  In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2  and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:1-2 (NKJV)

While everyone else was waiting for the kingdom to come John showed up and said, ‘It is here!’ It was right at hand, people just needed eyes to see. John did no miracles but there was such an anointing on his message that the nation came out to the wilderness to hear him.

4  And John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5  Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6  and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:4-6 (NKJV)

Again, one man with a different perspective impacted a nation. A commonality with David and John was that they had a different perspective and an anointing to shift a nation. However, more importantly they had a hidden life in God that was the source of their different perspective. They modeled what Jesus taught.

6  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:6 (NKJV)

We need a perspective that will shift our cities and our nation but we need to get this perspective not from a renewed vision but from a hidden life encountering God in the secret place.

Waiting with Wisdom

In our frenetic high pressure culture let us take a look at verse in Isaiah that provides a much needed perspective.

16  Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.” Isaiah 28:16 (NKJV)

This verse, in particular the phrase, “Whoever believes will not act hastily.” impacted me about 30 years ago when I was listening to a teaching series on discernment. The speaker’s point was that when we are paying attention to His voice we don’t rush into things – we make wise decisions. As someone who has many times placed unnecessary pressure on myself from taking on too many things I speak from the place of experience. Yet while knowing this in my head frequently a gap appeared between my knowing and doing. Over time I have come to a deeper appreciation of what Isaiah wrote and have learned to walk more fully in what the verse is about. Following His leading rather than my own wisdom.  

The idea of not acting hastily doesn’t’ mean we never need to make quick decisions or react quickly in a crisis. It instead focuses on the bigger picture. In context Isaiah is pointing to the eternal reality of Christ as the cornerstone in contrast to the false gods the leaders in Jerusalem had made a covenant with. We need to look to Him for wisdom rather than relying on our own wisdom.

A great example in scripture of someone ignoring godly wisdom, acting hastily and it leading to disaster is King Saul. He knew the proper protocol from his first encounter with Samuel. Here is what was told to Saul before he first met Samuel.

13  “As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him.” 1 Samuel 9:13 (NKJV).

Saul was told of the need to wait for Samuel’s blessing. That reality is reinforced here in what Samuel later said directly to Saul.

8  “You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.” 1 Samuel 10:8 (NKJV)

Later he lost everything because he ignored this protocol and failed to wait.

9  So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10  Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11  And Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12  then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” 13  And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14  But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:9-14 (NKJV)

There are some critical points here. Saul acted in haste and not wisdom because he ‘felt compelled.’ In verses 13-14 we find that the covenant God later made with David was available to Saul and lost because he refused to wait. Now clearly not every hasty decision carries this degree of consequence. However the principle is there.

In our era we are called not to wait for Samuel but to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We need His leadership in our lives. This means learning what it is to wait upon Him and putting it into practice. Scripturally waiting is not a passive acquiescence to circumstances, it is a heart looking expectantly to Him and waiting for His inner prompting and guidance. We pray, lay things before Him and go about our lives. However we don’t make major spiritual decisions without a sense of His inner leading.  

In my own practice of seeking His wisdom I often turn to and pray two particular verses from Psalm 25.

4  Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. 5  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:4-5 (NKJV)

I want to walk in His paths and truth, so I wait for Him and trust Him to lead me in His paths and to reveal His perspective on truth.  

New Wineskins Part 6

Let us close this off by looking at the wineskin of leadership as demonstrated by Jesus. Jesus walked in authority and confidence but an attribute that stands out for me is an important statement Jesus made.

27  For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. Luke 22:27 (NKJV)

‘I am among you as one who serves.’ The context was the disciples arguing about who was greatest and jockeying for positon. Think of where the image of ‘jockeying for position’ comes from. It is drawn from horse racing. Envision a group of horses tight together and each jockey trying to get his horse to the front to win the race. In the wineskin of an upside down kingdom Jesus said the way to win the real race is to help others in the race the world is in. Be a servant. Help the other jockeys.

Look at who Jesus served. If asked most of us would likely note that Jesus served people, which is clear from the verse above. However, Jesus primarily served His Father and He served people as an extension of that mission. It is evident in the gospels that Jesus came as a servant of His Father’s purpose.

38  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38 (NKJV).

Jesus larger purpose was going to the cross to redeem us to His Father. In walking that out Jesus demonstrated the new wineskin of servant leadership in all that He did. His authority was used in the service of the greater good. Leadership in the kingdom is about serving others and releasing them into their gifts and callings.

Paul caught what Jesus taught and modeled. Paul taught on and modeled servant leadership. He was willing to use the leadership authority he had been given for discipline but when we read his letters his heart was to use his leadership role to release people into their gifts and calling and build up the body.

 26  How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NKJV)

This verse is a good example of how to function in a gathering of believers. The wineskin of servant leadership is also inherent in it. Paul says the purpose of functioning in this way to is to edify, to build up others. We build up one another by making room for and encouraging the exercise of their gifts. A key role of leadership embracing a new wineskin is being flexible enough to make room for the gifts of other to see all that Jesus desires released in any given gathering. Let’s follow Jesus.

New Wineskins Part 5

In the last post we looked at the parable of the sower in Mark 4 where Jesus explained that the seed is God’s word and the soil is our hearts. Part of forming a new wineskin, a new way of thinking, is paying attention to our hearts. While there are varied ideas around what the heart may be, in scripture we can see that Jesus viewed it as a treasure chest. That may not be the first idea that springs to mind but let the scriptures speak.

21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)

It appears from Matthew 6:21 that our heart is our capacity to value or treasure things. Later in Matthews’s gospel Jesus is more explicit that our heart produces good or evil depending on what we treasure or value.

35  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. Matthew 12:35 (NKJV)

So part of developing a new wineskin means developing a right heart, valuing the right things. In connecting the idea of valuing right things consider how we structure our meetings as the body of Christ. Recently in reading an article I was reminded of the old architectural idea that ‘form follows function.’ That is, the design of a building should be to facilitate the purpose of the building. Considering that one of the metaphors for the body of Christ is that of a building or temple I want to consider what wineskin facilitates the effective use of the building.

We can think of natural or spiritual buildings but come back to the same idea – understanding the purpose. The purpose of the church is to display and release the life of Christ. I contend that doing that requires a flexible wineskin that remains new and fresh. A wineskin that can stretch to accommodate different expressions of His life at different times. Paul described what he saw as a typical church meeting in 1 Corinthians.

26  How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27  If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28  But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29  Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30  But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31  For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 1 Corinthians 14:26-32 (NKJV)  

The wineskin Paul was promoting was a flexible one. Different members of the body had different gifts and Paul thought that they should be expressed. Part of this wineskin inherent in these verses was the idea of mutual submission and respect. Elsewhere in his writings Paul is very clear about the place of leadership in the body and he is not denying that here.

My view, for decades now, has been that the role of leadership is to facilitate the development and release of His gifts in and to His body. In a future post I will develop more of the how. At present it is more of question of what we value. So here are some reflective questions to get us thinking about what wineskin we embrace.

Do our hearts value a wineskin that is flexible, looking for the gifts in our brothers and sisters and seeking to see others released in their gifts and callings? Is this how our building, our expression of His body functions? If not can we do things to see this expression realized?

New Wineskins Part 4

The parable of the four different types of soil is found in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20 and Luke 8:4-18. There are some common and different details in each version. A comment unique to Mark’s account is Jesus statement about the importance of this parable. A group of His followers asked Him to explain the parable, which He did, and then asked them a question.  

13  And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” Mark 4:13 (NKJV)

This is a wineskin comment. Jesus was letting them, and by extension us, know that there is a significant principle in the parable of the sower that unlocks truth in the other parables. The principle Jesus was communicating is often presented as the idea of sowing and reaping. While I believe this is inherent in the parable I believe Jesus was communicating something more significant. I call this The Principle of Purpose. In Mark the parable of the sower is followed by the lamp on a lampstand, the need to pay attention to how we hear and two more parables. One about sowing and reaping regarding the power inherent in seeds and the second the parable of the kingdom being like a mustard seed.  

I believe Jesus is saying in each of these there is a Principle of Purpose. In the Parable of the Sower, there is purpose connected to the seed and the soil. Jesus is clear that the seed is His word and the soil is our hearts. Isaiah says His word will not return void (Is. 55:11). It will accomplish the purpose for which it was intended. The key to our fruitfulness is not the quality of the seed, the seed is good. Fruitfulness is connected to the quality of the soil, our hearts.

If we want to see good fruit then we need to embrace our responsibility to prepare the soil. Solomon highlighted the importance of good soil in a number of places. Two examples are below.

23  Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)

1  The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:1 (NKJV)

It is clear that our hearts are designed to receive His word and outwardly produce the fruit of His inward work in our lives. We are called to live in and from His presence and release truth, life and hope wherever we go. When we do our heart is accomplishing the purpose for which Jesus designed it.

New Wineskins Part 3

Here is a look at the wineskin we need to embrace regarding how we see others if we are to walk like and with Jesus. In Luke 10:30-37 in response to a lawyer’s question Jesus shares the story of the Good Samaritan. The dialogue concludes with Jesus question and both of their responses.

36  “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37  And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37 (NKJV)

While the conclusion is that those in need are our neighbours, the story highlights different wineskins. We have the perspective of the thieves, the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan. The wineskin of the thieves was that they were free to take advantage of others to gain what they desired. Now we may not rob and beat people to steal from them but if we seek to take advantage of the vulnerability of others we may have unconsciously embraced this wineskin.

The priest and Levite (for a distinction, all priests were required to be Levites, not all Levites were priests, some had other duties). Their wineskin said they were not to get involved with those who could make them unclean. They may have thought the man was dead, we don’t know. What we do know is they crossed the road to avoid getting too close. They were experts in the law and knew they were to care for their neighbour (Lev. 19:18) but either ignored the Law or chose to not see the injured man as their neighbour. When seeing those in need makes us uncomfortable and leads to avoid getting involved perhaps we are not actually loving our neighbour.

Lastly we have the Samaritan. The Samaritans were a mixture of Jewish and other races and were despised by the Jewish community for their mixture and the two groups disagreed over who to worship. Jesus uses someone rejected by the lawyer to show a right heart. The Samaritan not only gets very personally involved he, like Jesus, bears the cost and inconvenience of getting involved. If we see those in need as our neighbours then we have embraced the wineskin of the kingdom, thinking and acting like Jesus.

In summary, here are the different wineskins Jesus presents. The thieves, take advantage. The priest and Levite, don’t get involved and don’t become defiled. The Samaritan, help those in need 

Let’s walk with Jesus.