Updated: Apr 3, 2020
"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 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."" (John 2:9-10 ESV)
Jesus' first miracle at the introduction of his ministry holds significance for us to ponder on for just a moment. A transformation of water to wine may elicit confusion rather than wonder at Christ upon first read. But, notice what the master exclaims upon tasting the wine - despite knowing that Jesus was the one who performed the miracle, he remarks the peculiarity of the good wine being given at the end of the marriage celebration and not the beginning, as everyone was accustomed to doing. What is Jesus saying about himself and his people through this first miracle?
When we think about our world and culture, we see an idolization of youth- being young and spirited, living in the "prime of your life," and people often talking and reflecting back on the "glory days" of their teens and early 20s. The world seems to offer fun, success, and bliss at the beginning, and yet we know these things are fleeting. People strive after beauty, success, wealth, fame, and these things, even if momentarily achieved, leave everyone wanting. We all ultimately face death as our bitter end, and there is no one that escapes it. And even in the midst of the "good wine" seasons of life that the world promises, the brokenness of world interjects with anxiety, tragedy, disappointment, and, as we most recently are experiencing, sickness and threat of health with the coronavirus. The world offers seemingly good wine, and yet leaves us with nothing but poor wine in the end.
So then, what hope do we have? In contrast to the world, Christ reserves the best for last for his beloved. The Word promises trial and persecution for believers, hatred from the world, a constant spiritual battle. And yet, we endure, knowing that we have an eternal hope and joy awaiting us, when we one day meet our savior face to face. We look forward to the full bodily restoration and redemption from sin that Christ purchased for us through his death and accomplished for us through his risen life. The poor wine that the world gives us remains a little while, but it will soon be sweetly left behind when we enter an eternity of the goodness of our God.
"[We] first have the cross, the race, and the battle, and then the rest the glory, and the crown. Specially will it be true at his second advent. Then will believers say emphatically, "Thou hast kept the good wine until now."" (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, J.C. Ryle, p. 99)