The story is told of George and his wife cleaning out the attic, where they discovered an 11year-old claim ticket for the local shoe repair shop. They both laughed and wondered which one of them had forgotten to pick up the pair of shoes more than a decade before. “Do you think the shoes would still be in the shop?” George asked, “Not very likely,” his wife responded. But George thought it was worth a try, so he hopped in the car and drove on down.
With a straight face, he handed the clerk the ticket, expecting him to say, “You have got to be kidding!” With a face that was just as composed as George’s, the clerk said, “Just a minute,” and went to the back room to look. Two minutes later, the man called out, “Here they are!” “No kidding?” George called back. “WOW, that’s amazing! Who would have ever thought they’d still be here after all this time?” The clerk came back to the counter—empty handed—and calmly said, “They’ll be ready this Thursday.”
Boy, isn’t that the way it goes? So many in this society make all kinds of claims, rushing this way and that to fill up their lives with what they think is important. And in the process, everything is under a deadline—projects at work, rushed leisure time, “drive thrus” for everything, and promises made and forgotten. All of life has become computerized, and when that all began decades ago, it was under the pretense of carving out more time for the things we really want to do—jobs done faster so that we have more time. But what has it all become? A mad race, filled to the brim with emails, voice mails, and ear buds for everything. Haven’t you noticed it? We are actually busier than ever, with no time for anything! And when something happens to fall through the cracks—like shoes that need to be repaired—the promise is left broken, and we still have to wait. Truth be known—we don’t even bother to repair shoes much anymore; we just buy more! I wonder if this fast-paced modern life has effected our attitudes toward the spiritual, as well. Actually, I don’t wonder at all—I know it has! Will anyone take time for God?
Our church has been in a preaching series for over four years! That’s right—four whole years! We started out looking at the Biblical names for the Father, and then, we moved on to those concerning the Son. Recently, the Lord has brought us through several names, titles, and spiritual pictures for the Holy Spirit. We are now focusing on some that take their meaning from the things of the created nature that is all around us. Today, I want to bring two such things together into focus. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan once wrote, “The whole truth does not lie in, ‘It is written,’ but in, ‘It is written,’ and, ‘Again it is written.’ The second text must be placed over against the first to balance it and give it symmetry, just as the right wing must work with the left to balance the bird and enable it to fly. Many of the doctrinal divisions among churches today are the result of a blind and stubborn insistence that truth has but one wing. No, truth has two wings.” Do you see what he is saying? You can’t just rush around, extracting bits and pieces of Scripture to make your point. We need to take the time to see the whole picture—to see it accurately!
You see, Dr. Morgan is not trying to suggest that the two wings are working against each other, trying to counter-balance each other in order to produce the truth. No, God’s Word is not like that—both wings are totally true, but they must be seen in the same context—working together to tell the whole story. For example, some like to just focus on God being loving, but, at the same time, ignoring His commandments and judgment against sin. That is lopsided—His judging of sin now is the most loving thing He can do. Look at Luke 10—a particular religious leader tried to trip Jesus up by asking, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (vs. 25b) Jesus knew that it was not an honest question, so He turned it around on him—He asked him how he sees the Scriptures. The man answered…”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (vs.27) And that was the kicker! Neighbor! “OK, Jesus, who then IS my neighbor?” hoping to justify himself—probably hoping his neighbor was only the one living right next door, and no one else. He wouldn’t want this love thing to involve too many people!
Then came Jesus’ illustration—”A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves…” (vs.30a) Yes, literally down! You see, Jerusalem is 2,600 feet above sea level, and Jericho is half that. The road is crooked, narrow, and winding down through the rocky crags—the perfect place for robbers to hide. The man was robbed, beaten, and left half dead. Before long, a Jewish priest came by, but when he saw the wounded man, he passed by on the other side. In the Greek, it means that he purposely turned out of his way—not to help the man, but to ignore him! Shortly thereafter, a Levite—also a religious leader—came by, saw the man, and also passed by on the other side. Scripture had made it clear—if either of these two men had come into contact with a dead body, they would be considered ceremonially unclean! In this case, they would not be able to do their “jobs” for a season, and neither of them had time for that! Busy, busy, busy!!!
But then came a Samaritan—Yes, a Samaritan! They were scorned by the Jews because they were descended from Gentile ancestry, and because their kind of worship was different from that of orthodox Judaism, maintaining a priesthood of their own. This man, however, had compassion on the bleeding man—deep, deep feelings for him. He stopped what he was doing, and at great risk to himself, since the attackers could still be in the area…”went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (vs.34) He even promised to reimburse the innkeeper for the care the man would need over time. Praise God—he poured in oil and wine! Throughout the Scriptures, oil is a very powerful symbol for the Holy Spirit, accomplishing much in the Christian life. First of all, oil was used for various anointings, including healing for the sick. In James 5:14 the church is asked, “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Likewise, the Holy Spirit marks out those he intends to move upon. Oil was also used for illumination. Rene’ Pache spoke of it—”Holy oil alone continually lighted the temple, where God was worshiped and where the person and work of Christ were wholly symbolized.” And, thereby, we are enabled to worship in Spirit and Truth.
Yet another feature of oil is that it was poured over the blood to cleanse lepers, and even the priests. (Lev. 8:30; 14:17) Blood and oil! Do not these two put together typify how we, as sinners, were saved and called to serve the living God? We are delivered from our spiritual leprosy by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the Cross of Calvary, and then, as a priesthood of believers, we are sanctified by the oil—the power of the Holy Spirit. Praise God—it is the blood that is symbolized by the Scriptures’ references to wine. That’s right, wine! Oil and wine—two wings for the same truth! Before Jesus went to the Cross, He used the juice of the vine to represent His blood, but after the Cross—at Pentecost—when the Holy Spirit came down, the mockers attributed the disciples’ Spirit-led words and actions to their drunkenness—”These men are full of new wine.” (Acts 2:13) How ridiculous!
This “new wine,” in the Greek, is “gluckos,” specifically referring to fresh, sweet grape juice. Those that mocked the disciples couldn’t possibly have really thought they were drunk; they didn’t know what else to do, but be sarcastic. The disciples’ spiritual exhilaration and joy just had to be mocked by those who were refusing to deny themselves and experience it with them. This striking symbol of wine represents the refreshing, stimulating, gladdening influence of the Spirit in the life of the believer. Paul tells us, “And be not drunk with (intoxicating) wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph.5:18) The more deeply and repeatedly we drink of Him, the more we desire to be indwelt by Him. In a sense, you are holding the claim ticket right now—this sheet of paper contains the truth of God’s Word. Don’t procrastinate—go get your spiritual “shoes,” and I can assure you, the Lord will not tell you to come back later. He wants your joy to be immediate and everlasting. In our church, we often sing this song—”He poured in the oil and the wine, the kind that restoreth my soul. He found me bleeding and dying on the Jericho Road, and He poured in the oil and the wine.” Don’t be too busy for the oil and the wine—the two wings of truth, without which, we won’t be able to fly at all!