“Bring me some new wineskins,” the owner of the vineyard called to the servant standing nearby. “The wine is ready.”
“Yes, Sir.” The man gave a quick nod and hurried away to the storage shed. It was dark and cool inside, the smell of leather thick in the air. He sniffed appreciatively. In the corner of the shed there was a pile of new wineskins. The servant rubbed his hand over the top one, enjoying the feel of the smooth, flat surface. He had helped make these skins, scraping off the goat hair, drying the skins, sewing them to form pouches. He pulled four off the top of the pile and took them with him up to the house.
The master was still outside waiting for the man to return and together they went to where the new wine was waiting to be poured into the fresh leather pouches. The servant lay the skins down on a table and once again rubbed his hand over the top. It almost seemed a shame to ruin the soft, flat skin, turning it into a round bubble with the wine.
Without thinking he turned to the master and said as much. “I really don’t like to fill these nice skins with wine. We have worked hard to get them so flat and smooth, no wrinkles or dimples”, he whined sadly. “Look how well they fit together stacked one on top of the other. When we fill them they will take up so much more room and be uneven and bulky.”
The master listened to the man shaking his head by the time the servant finished his sad speech. “What are you talking about, my man? What good is a flat wine skin? That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!” He softened the words with a deep chuckle, grasping the other man’s shoulder and shaking him.
The servant was not convinced. “But Sir, surely we can find another use for such fine leather, so well crafted. Perhaps we can hang them on the wall for decoration. They will hang nicely because they are so flat and they shine so beautifully, the different shades of the leather showing in the sun.” The servant smiled brightly as he spoke. It was a brilliant idea! Use the wineskins for decoration; they will always stay as they are now.
He jumped at the boisterous laughter of the man beside him. “Hang wineskins on my wall! To look at?” His master slapped him on the shoulder. “You are jesting, surely.” The owner laughed again when he saw the astonished, unhappy look on his servant’s face.
“Listen,” he said, trying to soften his amusement, “Perhaps it is not entirely a bad idea. Why don’t you hang them on the wall in the shed where you can enjoy looking at them while they wait to be filled? But you must understand, at some point they need to be filled with wine. That is what they have been made for. If something is meant to be full, round and bulging, what does it matter if it is beautiful when it is flat? It is not fulfilling its purpose. Surely you did not go to the work of making a wineskin only to hang it on a wall!”
He stopped, surprised at his passionate outburst. He hadn’t meant to get so serious about it but the words seemed to make sense as he said them. He saw in the eyes of the man beside him that they made sense to him as well.
After a few moments the servant nodded and said, “Yes, I understand.” He picked up one of the skins and smiled, “I will fill it. I want to see it filled up completely.” They went together to the barrel and began filling the leather pouch with the deep red liquid, watching it get fatter and rounder until it was filled to the top.
They stood back and looked at the bulging skin. “Ah, you are right, it is more beautiful now,” the servant said with a broad smile.
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Eph.3:17-19 NASB
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