The Best is Yet to Come!
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There was a woman who was diagnosed with a terminal illness and the doctor gave her three months to live. She had a gift of evangelism and she always loved to share her faith, but now realizing that her life was cut short, she decided to use her funeral as her final opportunity to give a testimony.
She gave her pastor her funeral plan, including her favorite hymns to be sung and scriptures to be read. She also wanted to be buried with her favorite Bible next to her. Then she took out a silver fork and asked the pastor to make sure that she had the fork in her hand when they laid her in the casket.
Surprised by her requested, the pastor asked why she would want to be buried with a fork in her hand. The woman explained, “Each time I was at a dinner party, after the meal, the servers would come to clear the plates. I would give them everything, but every now and then, they would say, ‘Ma’am, keep your fork.’ I knew right away they were serving dessert. Keep your fork means to me the best is yet to come.
“So, I just want people to see me there in my casket with a shiny fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, ‘What’s with the fork?’ I want them to know my life doesn’t end here and now. The best is yet to come. This will be my final opportunity to share my faith because I know where I am going and it’s the best place after all at the presence of my Lord, Jesus Christ.
“So, pastor, I want you to be my voice. When they see the fork in my hand and ask the question like the one you just asked me. I want you to tell them that it means my life does not end here and now. The best is yet to come because of Jesus Christ, and that I want them to have the same faith and enjoy the same future as I do.”
Sure enough, as the pastor stood next to the casket and watched, one after another who came to view her for the final time asked the same question. He answered them one by one, and he also included the story in his funeral sermon to let everyone know that the fork in her hand means the best is yet to come.
End of the story.
The scripture that we read this morning tells the story about Jesus’ first miracle recorded in John’s Gospel. You might have noticed that his miracle is very different from other miracles in a sense that most miracles are about Jesus helping the poor, the sick, and the suffering. This miracle, however, is about celebration, and based on the situation, it’s about a wedding of a seemingly wealthy family. There’s no poor, sick, and suffering involved. So, it intents to deliver a unique message, and the message is, “The best is yet to come.”
The arrival of Jesus is God’s best plan for the world because Jesus is the very best yet to come. Our life in Jesus Christ from now on will be like drinking the best wine at the end.
According to the Bible, wine is a symbol of joy. It’s a gift from God for our pleasure, to be enjoyed responsibly of course. You know that I don’t drink. I had enough of my drunken days during my youthful years. Today, I have other ways to enjoy life. However, the Bible does say that wine is a gift from God for our pleasure.
Look at Ps 104:14–15
“You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart …” (Ps 104:14–15a).
So, wine is a symbol of joy. That means when Mary came to Jesus and say, “They have no wine,” it means “they have no joy anymore.” We have often heard the Chinese idiom, “There’s no never-ending feast.” This story seems to remind us that there’s no never-ending wine, or there’s no never-ending joy in human life.
We all know that human joy is fleeting. No matter how much money you have, or how much power you have, you cannot create a lasting joy. Sophie put an orchid plant in front of my office. I water it faithfully and enjoy the amazing beauty of the orchid blossoms. I can tell you that when I observe the beauty of an orchid blossom, I can see God’s glory. But sooner or later, the flowers fade away one after another. They have a life span.
The first century Jewish wedding lasts about a week. They have to prepare a lot of wine to please the guests for as long as the wedding last. It’s an embarrassment of the groom if the wine runs out because it means the joy runs out. It also indicates that the groom is disorganized and a poor planner.
So, Mary came to tell Jesus, “They have no wine.” Mary and Jesus were guests at this wedding, but Jesus sensed the tone of Mary’s statement. It’s more like a request than just information. So, Jesus said, “It’s none of our business. They have no wine, so what?” Jesus added that, “If I do something, they will find out my divinity and I will be killed before my schedule.” It’s what Jesus mean by saying, “My hour has not yet come.”
It’s not yet for Jesus to reveal his divinity. Performing a miracle would expose him. Don’t you find it interesting that this world cannot handle the real presence of God? It seems too evil to receive goodness, or too dark to welcome the light. As John says in the first chapter that Jesus is the light of the world. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (Jn 1:9). However, the world was not ready to embrace the light. Jesus knew that the moment he revealed his light, his divinity, the power that be would put him down. He needed some time to train some disciples and spread the good news of the gospel before he let the dark elements take him to the cross in his own time.
Interestingly, Mary’s response sounds disjointed. She turned around and told the servants to do according to what Jesus would tell them to do. There’s a serious lesson for us to learn from Mary on prayer. Many a time, we pray and expect God to do exactly we ask Him to do. Sometimes, we pray and don’t expect God to do anything. However, Mary pray and act as if her prayer is fulfilled, but she does not know how it would be fulfilled and she just prepares for what ever means Jesus would use to fulfill her prayer.
There are many examples of requesting or praying like this, but we are learning from the mother of God here. She gave birth and raised Jesus Christ and she knows exactly how to ask Jesus and what to expect from him. By this time, Jesus is about 30 years old, and she has been with Jesus for that long.
Can we do the same? Can we ask and believe our wish is fulfilled? In fact, Wayne Dyer titled one of his bestsellers, “Wishes Fulfilled,” in which he wrote about praying and believing that wishes have been fulfilled. It’s a prayer of faith and Mary exemplified it here.
What’s extraordinary about this request is that she totally ignore Jesus’ excuse. Jesus said my hour has not yet come. I have my own schedule. God has a plan and a timetable. However, Mary ignore it and Jesus broke his own schedule as a result. Mary believes, since God made the plan, God can change the plan. It’s as if Mary is saying, “My job is to submit the request and wait for the outcome. As far as how it is done, it’s Jesus’ problem, not mine.”
So, the question comes, “Can God alter his plan in order to fulfill your prayer?” We learned in the catechism that God is unchangeable. Really? Maybe, it means God is unchangeable in a sense that God is love and God’s love is unchangeable. Maybe, it means God’s grace is unchangeable. God’s plan is obviously changeable, or at least tweakable.
If you remember the Exodus story. The Israelites were in the wilderness and, at one point, they made a bronze cow to worship. God was mad and decided to kill them all with poisonous snakes. Moses stood up and asked God, “Really? You are going to kill these people that you brought out of Egypt? Really, God? You will be a laughing stock for the Egyptians. Can you imagine the Egyptians laughing at you saying, ‘See the so called the Lord took our slaves out of Egypt and killed them all in the desert? What kind of God is that?’” If you read the story, you know Moses was able to persuade God to change his mind and let the Israelites lived.
Your sincere prayer can change God’s mind and God’s plan. God has a plan but it doesn’t mean God is stubborn. God can still fit your prayer into his plan.
This is how Jesus fit his schedule with Mary’s prayer. He sent a message along with his answer to Mary’s prayer. He asked the servants to filled the six stone jars that the Jews use for purification rites. They filled it to the brim and then Jesus asked them to draw some out and take it to the steward. The steward didn’t know where the wine came from, but was shocked to find out it was a top quality wine.
Totally astonished by the quality of the wine, the steward call the groom and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (Jn 2:10). He is saying, “You are unusual, you didn’t tell me that the best is yet to come.”
You know the story got even better. The Bible says each jar holds 20 to 30 gallons. Can you imagine Jesus actually made nearly 180 gallons of wine? The best is not just yet to come but to come abundantly. I think the bride and the groom can open a wine store after the wedding and make a good living out of it, since everyone knew by then already that the wine was topnotch. Jesus said, “I came so that they (you) may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Jesus planned it carefully and performed this miracle without revealing his divinity to the public. Nobody noticed it except the disciples. They saw for the first time and first hand account of their master being the Messiah and the believed him.
Today, I am serving as your steward, and I am telling you, “Ma’ams and sirs, save your fork. The best is yet to come and it’s coming abundantly!” Amen!