“Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
The lectionary readings are always a reminder of redemption. You see, These are the words that the master of a wedding feast said to a bridegroom in Cana. But they are so much more than that. They are words which disclose the character of Jesus. They are a promise that we can cling to.
The way of the world is the expectation of the feastmaster. “It’s only going to get worse from here.” The present condition wears us weary so that in life we have only death to look for to. Yet these words, “You have kept the good wine until now,” are words of hope. They are words that linger on the heart like good wine on the tongue.
I am reminded of the refrain of that grand opening story “There was evening and there was morning. Another day.” The way we mark our time is all off. Days do not begin and end with darkness. Evening then morning. The way that life trains us is all wrong. Death is not the punctuation to life. It is only the closing sentence of the introduction. Death then life. For in death we will have only life to look forward to.
I love the words of Isaiah.
“I will not keep silent! I will not be quiet! I will wait for the righteousness of God’s people to shine forth as brightness and for their salvation to be like a burning torch!”
Isaiah sees rightly. He has not let the dim light of the world put out his eyes. He holds to the bright hope of righteousness, the burning torch of salvation. Darkness then light. Evening then morning.
The rest of his words are all couched in the tension of longing and hope:
The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married.
Isaiah can shout this and prophesy because he knows the character of God. “For the LORD delights in you,” he says. This is the exclamation point at the end of all of those “shalls”. This is the reason his gives for his hope.
The psalmist says the same.
“With you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”
I am thirsty, but there is a fountain to drink from. This place is dim, yet there is light enough to see by.
Just look back at John’s story where Jesus made the better wine. It is later in that same story that Jesus invites us to drink from that fountain and to walk by that light. For he is that living water (John 7:37-38). He is that light by which we shall see (John 8:12). We know that there is darkness, but he is the one who walked through the darkness into light. Jesus, the crucified Christ and resurrected Messiah! From the very heart of the gospel we can hold onto the truth that the order of things is death then life and not the other way around.
At the present time we drink water and lousy wine. But there is coming a time when we will drink good wine. We mustn’t listen to the lies of the world that say the good wine is gone, that there is only death ahead, that the sun will only burn out, leaving us dark and cold. Even when the sun burns out “the city of God will have no need of it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:23)