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The Crushing of an Olive Mill

The Crushing of an Olive Mill

Editor’s Note: It’s no secret food is a hot topic when January comes rolling around. Whether you consider yourself a “foodie” or have always had an up and down relationship with food, there’s no getting around that it plays a daily role in our lives. But, have you ever looked to the Bible to seek out the significance behind the glorious gift that is food? Well, now’s the time. This new year is the year you start looking at food with a renewed vision. We’re getting back to the basics with Margaret Feinberg, author of Taste and See, to chow down on the deep spiritual meanings behind concepts like being “the salt of the Earth” or eating “our daily bread” – verses we’ve heard for generations but may have never allowed to bear fruit in our lives. You’ll be intrigued by the eye-opening relationship between physical and spiritual hunger, you’ll love the handful of free recipes, and you’ll want to sign up for the online Bible study (starting January 22, 2019). Enjoy this excerpt from the book!


The rest of the week follows the same routine of olive picking on other mountain slopes, until our final day, when Leif and I crowd into Natalija’s car along with Papa to carry thousands of olives across the island for processing.

We arrive at the red brick mill, and when climbing out of the car, I struggle to find my footing. The roads around the mill are covered with slippery oil. “No smoking” signs appear everywhere. I assume it’s because the oil is a fire hazard, but Natalija explains that olive oil takes on the surrounding scents. If a person smokes near the mill, then the whole batch will taste like cigarettes.

The owner recognizes Papa and waves us inside. Eight men scramble to empty the vehicle, pour olives into crates, and weigh the contents to determine their share of the oil. The hopper fills with olives, where they are further cleaned of debris. Grinders crush the pulp and pits into a mash that looks like a yummy tapenade, but I know better than to sneak a taste. The mash moves through a centrifuge, where hot water separates oil from the olives’ natural water content. Soon the precious liquid pours through a narrow spout.

The modern press offers many advancements, but the principles for extracting olive oil remain the same as in antiquity: crush, knead, extract. Then and now, the olives must pass through a press where they writhe and wrestle under pressure to produce the oil that feeds, illuminates, and heals.

The process at the olive mill reminds me of Jesus’s visit to an olive press.

On the evening of His betrayal, Jesus retreats to pray at the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane, a place that means olive press or olive yard. He could have gone anywhere, such as holing up with friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and enjoying the comforts of their nearby home in Bethany. Instead, the “Anointed One” spends His last night on earth among olive trees, wrestling with the Father about His mission and destiny.

Jesus knows the raw brutality of the hours ahead and begs for another way, any other way. The acute anxiety crushes His body from the inside out as Jesus experiences hematidrosis, or blood sweat. The bright red secretions likely appeared on His forehead, beneath his nails, in His tears. His skin would have become vulnerable and fragile. Mark mentions that Jesus falls to the ground; He may have bled from the point of impact.

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me,” Jesus petitions.

To this request, there is no response. Jesus yields to the silence and surrenders to the Father’s intention:

Yet not My will, but Yours be done.

From here He walks the long, silent road of obedience toward death. Before Jesus bleeds from the cross, He bleeds in the olive garden. As an olive must writhe and wrestle under intense pressure to yield oil, so too the Savior of the world writhes and wrestles until from Him flows an inexhaustible supply of grace, anointing, and healing.

Months before Jesus walked this tumultuous path, He told a story about a man who found himself imperiled along the road to Jericho. In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus describes a man brutalized and left for dead in a roadside ditch. Lofty leaders pass by, each carrying a mental checklist of why it’s better not to become involved. Then an untamed, unnamed man enters the scene with God’s healing in His wings. He disinfects the wounds with wine and pours the healing salve of olive oil over each gash before taking the man to long-term care. Finishing the story, Jesus, the “Anointed One,” instructs us to go and do likewise.

Then Jesus sends out disciples two by two with instructions to travel light. They anoint sick people with oil, and many whom they slather are healed. The Anointed One calls us to anoint and be anointed with oil in all our ailments, as well. Even though olive oil isn’t a magic potion, anointing people is a practice rooted deep in Scripture as an act of compassion, an expression of love, an invitation to healing.

If anyone among us is sick, we should call on the church’s overseers to anoint us with oil and pray.

Around the Table

Place a bottle of olive oil on the table and invite everyone to join in the following prayer:

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree. Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise. Amen.

Hand out photocopies of the download at www, along with pens Invite everyone to spend a few moments asking God to reveal any areas that need healing. Write down names, places, memories, or regrettables that come to mind.

Ask God to heal each one

Then invite each person to share aloud one area of personal pain. When the first person has finished, someone else should use a dab of olive oil to anoint the sharer’s forehead or arm as a symbol of Christ’s presence in suffering as the Anointed One. Pray a blessing over the one who has been anointed with oil. Repeat until everyone at the table has received prayer.

Excerpted with permission from Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg, copyright Margaret Feinberg.

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Your Turn

Are you praying for healing and anointing with oil? You can! Jesus modeled for us and even commanded us to pray for others, to pray for healing. Come share with us what healing prayers you are praying? We want to hear from you!



This tangy dressing is a must-have on salads, veggies, or in your favorite wrap.

PREP: 3 minutes COOK: none COOL: none

  • 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of pepper and garlic powder, to taste


  1. Mix ingredients thoroughly and pour over your favorite salad or roasted veggies.
  2. Save extra dressing in a sealed container in the fridge.

Makes 1/2 cup dressing.



This fast and simple olive oil dip goes well with freshly baked bread.

PREP: 5 minutes COOK: 3 minutes COOL: none

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional:1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 loaf fresh bread


  1. Chop basil finely. Gently mix basil, garlic salt, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add olive oil.
  2. Serve olive oil dip and fresh bread as an appetizer or as part of the meal.

*Makes 3/4 cup of olive oil dip.



This is the perfect sweet and savory combination to add to a cheese board or a center snack at your dinner gathering. Leif and I love the savory sweetness of this spread.

PREP: 15 minutes COOK: none COOL: none

  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup stemmed and halved dried gs (about 8 gs) 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste bread or crackers


  1. Pulse olives, gs, capers, garlic, and thyme in a food processor until a coarse mixture forms. Add olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper, and pulse to combine.
  2. Serve with your favorite cracker or a fresh piece of French baguette.

*Makes 1 cup of dip.

Join the Taste and See Online Bible Study!

God handcrafted humanity to be dependent on food. The Creator
could have required us to survive on air or water apart from eating,
but He designed the human body so food is not an option but a

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