A few weeks ago Juanita and I stood in the town of Nazareth in front of this winepress from the time of Jesus. The 7-8 foot long upper trough, carved and worn into a large flat rock, is where large quantities of grapes were be placed. At one point, on the side of the upper trough, is a narrow indentation into the rock where the grape juice could flow down into a lower trough, and from there it was poured into new wineskins.
The making of wine was a joyous community affair. Several people at a time would stomp the grapes barefoot to extract the juice. If they wore shoes they could easily crush the seeds which would cause the juice to be bitter. Along with the stomping was singing and dancing as the community came together to process the fruit of their labors.
But the Bible tells us that Jesus trod the winepress alone. No one was with him. No one sang and danced. No one was there to support Him as He, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross, bore the penalty that should have fallen on us, the sinners.
While Jesus’ sacrifice is reason for us to celebrate, it came at a great cost. Jesus bore the sins that were ours, and placed them on Himself, and died because of His great love for us, and His great desire that we should be united with Him throughout eternity.
You may never visit an ancient winepress, but may you and I always see the love of Jesus, demonstrated in vivid and powerful ways. Today I would challenge each of us to renew our commitment to stay close to the Savior who gave so much to give us the greatest of all gifts – eternity with our Creator and Friend.
Mike Edge, Conference President