Friday, March 30, 2018

cups too small for the wine

The Word for today:
Numbers 31
God is often mis-characterized as stern and dour. We don’t often think of him as festive.
And yet Jesus, who is both the only way to God and the only way to get to know God, seemed to love being invited to dinner. He loved it so much that if no one invited him, he invited himself:
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." (Luke 19:5)
Not only did he invite himself, but once he got there, he wasn’t a picky eater:
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' (Luke 7:33-34)
God called for a lot of feasts in the Old Testament. He wanted happiness to abound. He wanted to celebrate often and regularly, lest anyone should get out of the habit of being happy!
Q. What was he celebrating?
A. Whaddya got?
When God’s in charge of the feast, the menu makes your mouth water:
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine--
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:6-8)
The most famous poem in history—not just in scripture, but in literature at large—tells us that God himself sets the table, and pours so much wine that the cups are too small:
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.  (Psalm 23:5)
In the only miracle (other than the Resurrection) reported in all four gospels, a crowd of  at least 15,000 is too little to finish all the food Jesus brings to the picnic!
In Jesus’ first miracle, the wine is so good that, well, there must be some mistake:
Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." (John 2:7-10; see also Gen. 49:11)
We, like the headwaiter, should stop making the mistake of expecting inferior wine. In the kingdom of heaven, it keeps getting better and better the longer the party goes on.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the feasts God called Israel to attend. You’re invited, so bring a big cup.

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