The Best Is Yet To Come
Life can throw some interesting curve balls our way, can’t it? I truly believe there is not one person here who has never had a “Oh my land, I just want to die!” moment. They can come at us at any time, even when we least expect it.
This past Monday, Melissa and I had some errands to finish at the Dollarama. This was the day before Caleb’s birthday so Melissa has to pick up a few plates and napkins for his party at school. When we had all we needed, I went to the check out counter to pay for the items we had. The lady standing behind the cash register noticed the number 5 candle we had for Cabe’s cake.
The lady smiled at Caleb and asked him who was going to be five. Just a proud as possible, Caleb looked at the woman and proudly proclaimed, “It’s my birthday tomorrow. My dad is thirty and he’ll be thirty-one on his birthday!” All I could do was hand her the money while she, and the people behind me, had a laugh at my expense.
That was never planned. I’m sure Caleb wasn’t thinking “How could I embarrass Dad today?”. All he was concerned about was his birthday and his father’s age. Those things just happen. There are times I wish that the silly and embarrassing things were the only “hardships” we have to go through, don’t you?
Unfortunately we live in a fallen world. No matter how hard we try, bad things still happen. It’s not just the small things, but it is the life altering experiences that I’m talking about. People still get sick. Loved ones still pass away. Bills still need to be paid and families still need to be fed. All of these can be hard for people to deal with.
David was a man who knew something of hard times. He, like all of us here today, knew what a struggle this life can be. “Hear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” Psalm 86:1-4. Just like David, we can find ourselves at the end of our ropes, and the only place to turn is to God. Perhaps that’s even why you came to church this morning.
This morning, we find ourselves looking again at a very familiar passage to most of us here today. In John 2, we find the familiar story of Jesus’ first recorded miracle. Jesus, Mary, and the first four disciples find themselves at a wedding when something tragic happens. The wine runs out!
Read John 2:1-11
What an embarrassing predicament to find oneself in. Here Jesus and the rest of them had been invited to a wedding feast only to be told by Mary that the wine had run out. It’s not so embarrassing for the guests as it would be for the host of the party. Can you imagine? That has to be a HUGE social faux pas. You are NEVER supposed to run out of anything. That’s just poor planning.
Those sorts of criticisms are available for anyone who fails. There are many people we know, maybe we even call them “friends,” who are just waiting to pounce on any weakness that we may have. Gossip thrives in an environment like that.
I recall a time back in Lower Hainesville where criticisms and weaknesses in a person’s life became fodder for the gossipmongers. They were having a field day over the fact that a man started going to church with his in-laws. That sounds harmless enough, but then the rumour mill began grinding out tales of infidelity and abuse. “The only reason HE’S coming to THIS church is to put and wedge between her and her parents.”
I received a phone call from the wife a short time later. As I talked with her, the first thing I did was to apologise for what others were saying during this time. She confided in me the problems that she and her husband were going through, none of which matched up with the stories being floated around.
Sometimes we bottle up our emotions and struggles because of the fear of how others may react. It sounds silly, I know, but we like to put on the mask, don’t we? If we can at least look like we have it all together, then we are okay.
I’m not sure if the bridegroom was aware of the wine situation at the marriage celebration, but I like to think he did. Perhaps he pulled Mary aside and told her they were out of wine. What ever the case may be, it had become common knowledge to those in attendance, for the most part, that all the wine was gone.
Marriage feast commonly lasted for seven days during Jesus time. Some people believe that the time reference in verse one could actually mean day three into the party. If that is the case, then they ran out WAY before the time. Either way, this was not going to look good on the host or the bridegroom.
This is where the story becomes interesting. Jesus tells the men to fill up water jars. Not just any jars, but the ceremonial cleansing jars. The water poured from these vessels was used for washing. Perhaps, as some would suggest, the guests would have used these to cleanse themselves, purify themselves, so that they could join in the festivities.
Why would Jesus use jugs that were for cleansing? I believe He did it for a reason. My thought is that He chose the least likely of containers to show us something. He was using the least likely of objects to rectify the situation.
Isn’t that what He does with us sometimes? When we are faced with difficulties in this life, isn’t often that the answers to our problems come from some of the most obscure places? This past Sunday, we prayed for Tim and Kim’s son in Calgary. For those who may not have been here last week, their son’s truck was stolen last Saturday.
Let me tell you the rest of the story. He found his truck just a few blocks from where it was taken from. His tools and stereo were gone, but he had his truck back. He never knew that a group of people in Nova Scotia were praying for a guy none of us know, until Trevor told him. That sounds like an answer from an obscure place to me.
You may be here today not knowing what is next for you. What ever the struggle may be, I want you to know that an answer is coming. It may not be coming in the way you expect it.
“Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." John 2:7-10
In the face of a personal disaster, Jesus changed the outcome. An alcoholic became a believer, was asked how he could possibly believe all the nonsense in the Bible about miracles. "You don’t believe that Jesus changed the water into wine do you?" "I sure do, because in our house Jesus changed the whiskey into furniture."
I can remember a time when I thought that all hope was lost. As I have shared before, there came a time in my life when I thought the best answer to all my problems would be to end my life. I wouldn’t have to live with the pain anymore. That’s when Jesus stepped in. There is just something about the grace and mercy God that I have a hard time to explain.
I was like the bridegroom here in this story. All I had to offer the people around me was gone. I was empty. All that was left were used jugs. But Jesus filled them up with His grace, and turned a life I thought to be useless into something special.
After Jesus was confronted by his mother about the lack of wine at the party, Jesus looked at her and said, "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" John 2:4. There was no social obligation that Jesus had to fill here. In our lives, God really has no obligations to help us out, does He? That’s when grace becomes evident. He gives us His grace, not because He‘s obligated to, but because He knows that we need it.
Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker both had churches in London in the 19th century. On one occasion, Parker commented on the poor condition of children admitted to Spurgeon’s orphanage. It was reported to Spurgeon however, that Parker had criticized the orphanage itself. Spurgeon blasted Parker the next week from the pulpit. The attack was printed in the newspapers and became the talk of the town. People flocked to Parker’s church the next Sunday to hear his rebuttal. "I understand Dr. Spurgeon is not in his pulpit today, and this is the Sunday they use to take an offering for the orphanage. I suggest we take a love offering here instead." The crowd was delighted. The ushers had to empty the collection plates 3 times. Later that week there was a knock at Parker’s study. It was Spurgeon. "You know Parker, you have practiced grace on me. You have given me not what I deserved, you have given me what I needed.
This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. John 2:11
When He shows us a new path, a new grace, it is done to strengthen our faith in Him. The disciples placed their faith in Him over a wine issue. It’s not ever day clear water becomes rich wine. These men we just beginning to see how the best things come in the end.
Over the next few years, Jesus would continually tell them that better things lie ahead of the faithful. Sometimes they listened and sometimes they didn’t. Only after His death and resurrection did they begin to truly understand all He had been talking about. They began to see the “big picture.” They knew that hardships and misfortunes would happen to anyone, but Jesus had a knack for making things better. “Dear friends do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1Peter 4:12-13)
One of my all time favourite musicals, yes I like musical, happens to be “Annie.” I’m sure all of you know the story the little redheaded orphan. The reason I like “Annie” so much is because it inspires people to hope. There is never a day that can be so rotten that a little hope cannot cure. While filled with a lot of great songs, the one that stands out the most is “Tomorrow.”
The sun’ll come out When I’m stuck a day Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
Tomorrow That’s grey, And lonely, I love ya Tomorrow!
Bet your bottom dollar I just stick out my chin You’re always
That tomorrow And Grin, A day A way!
There’ll be sun! And Say,
Just thinkin’ about Oh! The sun’ll come out
Clears away the cobwebs, So ya gotta hang on
And the sorrow ’Til tomorrow
’Til there’s none! Come what may
All hope is not lost. Bad days come to everybody. The thing to remember is that Jesus is here. He wants the best for you in ALL that you do.
I have no idea what you may be dealing with this morning, but I do know that the One changed water into wine has something better for you. If you never have received Him as your Saviour, He has heaven waiting for you.
No matter your problems, keep believing in Him. There is something better waiting for you!