Raw Green Olives


I couldn't get my car stopped fast enough to open the door, spitting and gagging. A paper bag full of raw green olives sat on the car seat beside me. About two blocks from Johnny's house I had plopped one into my mouth. I had tasted green persimmons that made my mouth pucker, but those green olives seemed ten times worse!

After my sons and I had stopped in north Phoenix to visit Johnny, he sent us on our way with a gift of olives, green and plump, picked from a tree in his yard. They looked wholesome and ready to eat. Not being from that area, I was completely unaware that olives must undergo a special process before they become the tasty tart treat that I enjoy pulling out of a jar. Later, when I was telling Johnny of my experience of trying to eat one of his green olives, he roared with laughter and had his own story to tell. One day while Johnny was standing outside his church with a hose in his hand, watering the grass, a man walked by and stopped to talk for a few minutes. Seeing the heavy-laden olive tree, the visitor to Phoenix asked if he could sample one. Johnny replied, "Sure, help yourself". Immediately after biting into a green olive, the man ran and grabbed the water hose to flush out his mouth. What he didn't realize was that Johnny was draining the church's baptismal tank!

Things are not always what they appear to be. The Bible says: "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12, NKJ).

There is a message that you can trust, the Bible. My friend, Paul, a doctoral student, often said that one reason he believed the Bible to be true was its unvarnished presentation of real people's real lives.

One of those real people is Jesus Christ. The writers of the New Testament were willing to put their lives on the line for presenting the story of Jesus' resurrection. The Apostle Paul reminded the believers in Corinth that the resurrection was the foundation of their faith (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

Paul explained that Jesus' death, burial and resurrection happened in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies: for example, Isaiah 53. Many people had seen the risen Jesus face to face. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time, the majority of whom were still alive when Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church. All those people could have substantiated the accuracy of his writing.

The Bible teaches that Jesus loved us and offered Himself as a voluntary sacrifice for the sins of all humankind. Paul urged the first century Christians not to follow every new teaching because it looked good or sounded good--"…the truth is in Jesus" (Ephesians 4:21, KJV).

The raw green olives needed to be transformed in order to be suitable for human consumption. Our lives also undergo a transformation when we choose to accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior. "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NAS)

J. Mark Vandivort jmvan530@yahoo.com

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