“a host always serves the best wine first, he said….But you have kept the best wine until now” John 2: 10
I was listening to a Youtube mix this week, and a U2 song came up. In the background of work, a few lines caught my attention:
“I was drinking some wine and it turned to blood, what’s the use of religion if you’re any good?”
Here, in this simple story found in a book that most people today would like to discard, lies the answer to that question; and every other. When the new wine turns up, everything changes. Religion begins to make sense for the first time. We see the complete picture of God, because everything is fulfilled in this simple person of Jesus.
The new wine comes when everything else is exhausted. When all our attempts to rectify our lives come to nothing, so often then we eventually turn to God. When the world does finally run out of answers, when it has tried every vain attempt to solve the problem itself, the new wine – Jesus, will come again. The new wine always comes at the end.
The new wine is abundant; there were 6 ceremonial jars, each of around 25 gallons – that’s 600 litres of wine that came at the end of the wedding. I am always amazed at the sheer abundance of God, the God that gives so unceasingly, and so unquestioningly. We don’t deserve any of it, but he pours it out anyway in bigger quantities than we can ever hold.
The new wine is pleasing; it is always the best. When you read the hosts response, you get a picture of sheer astonishment at the quality of the wine that came at the end of the wedding. This was no local plonk being served up, this was Chateau Mouton Rothschild of the very best vintage. It would have provided a great sense of pleasure to those who were able to indulge. Refreshment for all.
Mostly though, the new wine saves; above all, Jesus came to rescue his bride back from destruction. His gentleness, his love and compassion, his genuine desire for us to follow him so that we can be saved by him lies at the heart of the Gospel. The wedding was saved from an embarrassing collapse, and few would ever know who had saved it. The new wine, which comes at the end of our attempts, pleases us and rescues us.
There is one more thing to add, and that is we can do nothing to earn it. The good wine comes to us in spite of ourselves, and we must gratefully receive it. It is free, it comes from outside of us and we must drink deeply from its draft. When we truly learn that lesson – and perhaps only when we learn that lesson then the obedience that Jesus demands, comes to us.
The new wine changes; in the Old Religion, we saw people strive – and fail, to please God through their own efforts. In Jesus, we see a gift given to us in spite of all our own undeserving. When we grasp that, when we drink deeply, then our motivation changes. Obedience is not from obligation, but from a sense of desire, of devotion. The new wine is far superior to the old wine.
Drink my friends, and drink deeply for a long time. The new wine is here, and it will not go away.