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Generous Eyes And New Wine:  
Perspective From Luke 4-6

by Major Terence Hale

I have a friend who in his very early 40’s lost his eyesight and became fully blind. Since that accident his life has become about learning to live within new parameters and beginning to interpret and interact with the world in whole new ways. I have only connected with him since he has been blind, so I don’t really know what life was like for him before his accident, but I am always impressed when we meet up and he tells me how life continues to evolve for him and what new opportunities and challenges have presented themselves as he continues to learn to live as vision impaired person. That being said, in every conversation, without fail we land on a topic that causes him to reflect on what it was life when he was fully sighted and in some way lament losing his vision. Every time we chat or go for a coffee, I am reminded that sight is a great gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted.


That is part of the reason that I find Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:22-23 so intriguing. Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” The idea of healthy and unhealthy eyes, which in the Greek translate as generous and stingy eyes has been, pardon the pun, eye opening for me. Doesn’t that idea make you want to go full on after eyes that see your reality in a generous way, filling your life with the light of possibility and promise. The stingy alternative just doesn’t seem appealing.


I want us to take the Generous vs. Stingy paradigm and apply it as a filter on Luke 5-6. Taking time to consider this passage there is conveniently a theme of seeing and not seeing. We have groups of people, some seeing the glory of God amongst them (generous) and others not seeing, and outright missing it (stingy).




First up we have Peter who features heavily in this passage. As we meet Peter, we get a sense that he has fledgling generous eyesight, he is growing into it. We read that Peter has been around Jesus, had Him as a guest in his home, saw Him do amazing things, and even heal his Mother-in-Law (Luke 4:39). But it wasn’t until he ‘saw’ the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:8) that he also sees the holiness of Jesus. What if this is showing us how the eyes of our hearts are fused to the priorities of our hearts? (I don’t know what that says about Peter’s relationship with his Mother-in-Law, but we won’t go down that rabbit hole.) Our priorities, passions, concerns, and fears, serve like blinders to our soul, making our eyes stingy, and can cause us to miss the glory, grace, holiness, and love of God moving around us.


Despite this negative possibility there is a seed of good in that reality. First, if it is true that misplaced priorities and passion act as blinders to the movement of God around us, the opposite can also be true. When our priorities are right aligned, when we embrace generous eyes, we can then see God’s glory when no one else can, or when negative circumstances are ranging around us.


Secondly, there is hope. As with Peter, Jesus in His love and grace keeps working to get our attention even when are not paying attention to Him at all. Peter went from simply seeing the miracle in Luke 4 to seeing Jesus through the miracle in Luke 5. In our lives and ministry, what do we want to see more the miracle or the miracle maker? We see in the miraculous catch of fish that seeing Jesus in the miracle melts away our misplaced priorities. As a fisherman Peter undoubtedly been concerned about the catch of fish and the income it would bring, but after he ‘saw’ Jesus, and received a new priority from Jesus, to become a fisher of men, he simply walked away from the catch. This is the gift of generous eyes. As we will see shortly stingy and weak eyes require us to squint and focus on the small details causing us to miss the beauty of the broad strokes God is painting in our lives.


With all of this in mined we see some other vision issues. Luke 5:29 tells us that after Jesus had healed the paralytic who was lowered through roof by his friends, and more importantly forgiven him of his sins, “Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”"


If we hold to the principle that our eyes are fused to our hearts, what does this say about the priorities of these people? What were they looking and longing for? They were clearly people with generous eyes, looking expectantly for a move of God. Generous eyes are marked with expectancy. Are our lives and ministry marked with the same? Perhaps the question for us is “What have we seen?” Let’s do a quick inventory check. Think back over the past week, seven days should do it. Can you say with the people from Luke 5, “I have seen remarkable things?” If not, why not, is it because God is not doing remarkable things, of course not! He is the Living God, creator, and sustainer of all things, He only does remarkable things. So, what might be the issue? Are we even paying attention? Generous eyes will see the remarkable where others miss it. In our lives and ministry, in our leadership and worship, in our corps and denomination we need the vantage point of expectancy that generous eyes bring.




These are important questions because there is a hard lesson to learn from the example of the Pharisees and religious leaders. The bottom line is that we can see that they in fact cannot see. They had stingy eyes. They question the forgiveness and healing of a man on two occasions (Luke 5:21 and 6:7), they complain about Jesus’ dinner companions (Luke 5:29-32), and they challenge Jesus’ religious practices (Luke 5:33 and 6:2). Jesus’ challenge to them was correct, “If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.” (Matthew 6:23) Even when the Pharisees decide to concentrate and look closely it is only for the point of finding fault (Luke 6:7). What does this say about their motivations and priorities? Would we have been much different? We should remember the saying, “Good is the enemy of best.” Stingy eyes are concerned with maintaining the status quo. Weak eyes are comfortable with good but weak faith.


These examples of generous and stingy eyes are summed up in Jesus’ illustration of new and old wine skins at the end of Luke chapter 5. The Pharisees have been narrowing their stingy eyes as the narrative progresses through the chapter and move from life altering, Kingdom level stuff, like the forgiveness of sins (5:17-26), to medium size concerns like relationships and dinner companions (5:27-32), to finite and relative inconsequential concerns of religious ritual (5:33). It is as if their spiritual eyesight is deteriorating the harder they strain to focus on the wrong things. Their eyesight is so bad, and they must lean in so close to have any sense of visual clarity, that they unable to see the bigger picture of God’s salvific activity. This is a good reminder for us, it is a sure sign that our eyes are growing stingy and dark if our concern is drifting from big Kingdom matters to small religious ones.


It is at this point, when the Pharisees appear to have completely lost the plot, that Jesus offers the parable of the wineskins (5:34-39) to try and help them, and by extension us, reset our vision parameters. Jesus reminds us that new wine needs to wine skins, a flexible and adaptable container for a dynamic and growing reality. If we try and put the new wine, the new Kingdom reality Jesus is ushering in, into the old wineskin parameters or paradigms of yesterday’s blessings and frozen assessments and understandings of how God operates, it simply won’t work. The blessings of God will spill out of our broken religious container, and we will be left wondering why we come up empty and still thirsty each time we go for a drink.


Call To Decision


This part of the parable we likely know very well but it is the last line from Jesus that has always stood out for me and gives a final warning about stingy and weak eyes. Jesus says in verse 39, “And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’” What Jesus is warning about here is that given the free choice we will default into choosing the old wine. We are effectively addicted to the old wine. I will openly confess that I know nothing from personal experience about wine of any sort. (Except for that one time I think I accidently drank real wine at an Anglican communion service, but that is a whole other story.) But common wisdom says that the older and more aged the wine the better the taste and quality, this is what Jesus is appealing to at this point. Just like people would choose old wine over the new, so if left to our own devices and submitting to a mindset informed by stingy eyesight, we will choose the comfort of the old and familiar over the new and unknown. As much as we like idea of fragrant new wine bursting out and changing the spiritual landscape in our lives, families, communities, and corps we must embrace the point of view of generous eyes or we will return to the old, sometimes without even noticing, spilling all the potential of the new wine on the ground.


Old or New; Generous or Stingy? An honest answer is needed. So, one last point, generous eyes are not truly comfortable because they are eyes wide open shedding light every facet of our lives, requiring of us a brutal honesty that is inescapable but at the same time brings dynamic Kingdom living. Bottom line is that we can’t cheat on this one, the Holy Spirit is already nudging us in the direction we need to move. Let’s lean into it with EYES WIDE OPEN!


Consider this prayer today…


Again, Jesus, I ask for the generous eyes you talked about. I am tried of the stifled short sightedness of stingy eyes that seek to only serve my preference and maintain my comforts. Help me to see and perceive the Father’s Kingdom around me, with a depth only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Jesus, I want new wine skins for the new wine of Holy vision, the fruit that comes from seeking to see from your perspective. Give me grace to not be content, or to be enticed back to the comfort of the old wine, but instead to step expectantly into the thrilling discomfort of fully embracing the new. Eyes wide open Jesus, eyes wide open! Amen!












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