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Now Is the Good Wine - The Second Sunday after Epiphany

[John 2:1-10] On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “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.”

Now Is the Good Wine

What do you think of wine?

We live in a society that only a hundred years ago, with a landslide victory, banned alcohol nationwide by constitutional amendment. We have a history of a very negative view of alcohol, I suppose including wine. This is supposedly a Christian view, but it is not a Biblical view.

Though the Bible rightly warns against slavery to too much wine, nevertheless – most prominently – what is wine in the Bible? Wine, in the Bible, is in fact used as a sign, not only of joy, but most importantly, as a sign of God’s Kingdom.

Wine is a sign of physical and spiritual joy [Genesis 27:28; Ecclesiastes 9:7], of future hope [Isaiah 25:6; Joel 2:19; Zechariah 10:6-7], of abundance [Joel 2:24, 3:18; Amos 9:13]. And, eventually, wine even becomes the delivery system of God’s Gospel covenant with man [Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20].

Today, in John chapter two, Jesus, as the first of His miracles, turns water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee.

There’s a good amount of imagery at this wedding feast in Cana. The first image is that of marriage – the wedding, and its feast. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, God is said to be in a marriage. God, the Lord, is the Groom. His people – either Israel, or the Church – is said to be the Bride.

The coming of Christ and what He does for us at His hour is the wedding of Groom and Bride. Heaven itself, the Kingdom to come, is said to be a great wedding banquet, the marriage feast of the Lamb.

The stone water jars in today’s Gospel – which held twenty or thirty gallons a piece – in which Jesus made this water into wine, they were not drinking vessels. These were washing vessels for purification, to wash and make oneself clean to enter the banquet.

And, very significantly, Jesus tells His mother just before today’s miracle, “My hour has not yet come.” That Jesus says His hour has not yet come points us to the time when His hour will come. When will that hour be? What will that hour be? What does this miracle of wine and wedding have to do with it?

And, finally, at the end of today’s miracle, when the master of the feast – the party planner – tastes the water having become wine, he exclaims to the groom, “You have kept the good wine until now.”

Here’s the point to be made today, brothers and sisters: The Lord Jesus, God made manifest in the flesh, the Groom of this Bride, His Church, has kept the good wine until now. He has given it at His hour.

Abundance, physical and spiritual joy, and future hope. Does this describe how it’s been lately for you? For us? We’ve lost a lot. It’s been tough. It continues to be. The funerals increase. The sick list grows. And what of this next transition in our country?

We walk by faith, not by sight [2 Corinthians 5:7]. We know and believe by faith, not always by sight and experience, that the good wine of our Lord is now. And is to come. And we receive a foretaste of its fulness week after week.

Abundance, physical and spiritual joy, and future hope are not found in the circumstances of life, or in the wine glass of this world, but are found instead in those hours which your Lord spent on the cross saving you. His cross for you – that is His hour [John 12:23-33]. There the good wine finally came, and is.

The Lord has saved the good wine until now – for our age in this grand history – and we live in a blessed age, blessed beyond measure – because we live in the age, and many others didn’t, when man has access to this good wine already come by the saving cross of Jesus.

The good wine of Jesus is the blood shed from His hands, His feet, His side, as He hung on the cross for you during His hour of darkness. The good wine is the saving, shed blood of Jesus, God’s Lamb and sacrifice for fallen sinners.

The saving blood of Jesus is poured upon you in Holy Baptism. His shed blood made the water in every Baptismal font into one of those stone jars, but for your complete purification. In the water of Baptism, His saving blood, once and for all, made you fully clean – washed your robes white in His blood [Revelation 7:14].

Through the water font of Baptism, Jesus made sinners into a pure Bride for Himself, sinners though they be. By His cross and through Baptism, Jesus gave life to the dying, dying though they be.

The water basin of Baptism becomes that big vessel filled with that good wine – which gives the true abundance, the true joy, the true future hope.

So, I’ll give you two Bible passages here. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might make her holy, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle ” [Ephesians 5:25-26]. That’s the wedding. That water with the Word of God washes you in the new wine, the blood of Jesus.

And, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” [Romans 6:4-5]. That’s life for the dying. The time of the good wine is now – you have in this age, because of Christ’s cross, what man could never have dreamed of or made for himself.

And here you are today. Not only has the water basin of Baptism become the basin for this new wine in the blood Jesus, but now today, as often, the new wine of God’s kingdom is given to you at this hour in a cup – the mystery of the blood of Christ – the blood of His new covenant with His people – given to you in wine that is His saving blood.

Right now, in our days, we do walk by faith. What is for us is not yet seen, but is given hidden in a mystery. Yet it has its effect – it renews and sustains. The day will come when we will see things as they are – with our own eyes – and will see our marriage feast and our future hope manifested in its true light and glory.

Until then, we cling to light in darkness. We know with certitude, by faith, that God has kept the good wine until our age, and that it is already ours now – even in tough times.

Walk in the true good wine – the abundance, the joy, and the hope – of your Baptism. And, for those prepared and in need, come forward today – in repentance and in faith in the forgiveness of sin – come forward to receive that good wine of heaven’s banquet hidden under this wine, in the cup given to you, and be sustained and helped by it – as God does indeed help you today.

Let’s be right and very Biblical and take joy in the good and true wine of God’s Kingdom and His heavenly Wedding Banquet today. Amen.

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