More Wine Than We Deserve
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Does anyone ever really deserve wine? Or for that matter, more wine?
Unlike our friends who never touch a drop of wine, we know that wine is a good gift from our Lord Jesus, the creator of dirt, rain, vines, and fermentation.
But we also know that to overindulge in any of God's gifts is sinful. This is particularly obvious with wine. Getting drunk is sin.
We are sinners we are bent towards actively overindulging in God's gifts, whether wine or humility or money or family. We prove ourselves to be exactly what the Lord says about us: All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Romans 3:12 NIV 1984)
So does anyone ever deserve wine, or any gift from the Lord?
The tipsy wedding guests at Cana didn't.
The hapless bridegroom didn't. (He had one job, just one—make sure there's enough food and wine for the guests).
But Jesus is our merciful Lord, who gives us the opposite of what we deserve. We witness His generosity that fills the cups of the guests to overflowing.
Mary knew her Son. She knew of His compassion. And so when she learned of the problem, she prayed to God, by telling Jesus, “They have no more wine.” And even though Jesus' reply seemed like He was saying no to more wine, she accepts His word and trusts that His word will always be good, whether yes or no. This trust is the same as the faithful Canaanite mother who begged Jesus to drive a demon out of her daughter.
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes it is, Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Matthew 15:25-27 NIV)
This mother and Jesus' mother trust that His word is always good. Mary's trust brings her to tell the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” She doesn’t know what He will tell them. He might not tell them anything. He might tell them to send the guests home, the party's over. Whatever He tells them to do will serve, ultimately, the good of His people.
That is faith. Faith expects good things from God. It trusts Him to keep His promises, to be our God, that is, to be on our side, for us, even when His answer to our prayer is no.
We accept His no's and yes's, and we faithfully wait on the Lord. As new men and women, baptized into Christ, we are just like Mary, waiting and watching and praying and trusting.
We are also, according to our old sinful flesh, just like the master of the banquet: “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have had plenty to drink, then the cheaper wine. You saved the good wine until now!”
You can take this two ways. He's either impressed with the bridegroom or he thinks he's an idiot. The second take is that no one would ever serve good wine to drunks. It's stupid and wasteful. This contempt would be the same as the elder brother in the Parable of the Prodigal. The older brother despises his younger brother, but even more, he despises his father, who recklessly wastes his generosity on an undeserving son.
But this is precisely who our God is. He “wastes” His gifts on us. We misuse His gifts: wine to get drunk or no wine to be smug and superior about the drunks. We also misuse His gift of forgiveness: our flesh demands to be forgiven because we always have a good excuse as to why we sinned, but those who sin against us deserve nothing but contempt and suspicion and gossip.
But Jesus cares and loves us. He gives the feast at Cana more wine than they could possible drink or certainly appreciate (He created roughtly 63 cases of wine!) The quantity and quality were lost on them. But He still gives the gift.
The quantity and quality of His forgiveness of our drunkedness and smugness and gossip is lost on us. We can fully appreciate how much and how thoroughly He has forgiven us, and yet He still washes away our sin and gives us His body and blood for our salvation.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.