As the notes of the beautiful song New Wine slowly fade away its as if the Lord is saying to me, “Imagine you are a bunch of grapes – made and beautifully filled with juice – slowly the blush of the late summer shows you are ripening – Then I cut you loose from the vine and cast you into the wine-press where you are slowly crushed, spilling the precious juice, because as a whole grape you cannot become wine. So as you are crushed and the juice flows free – it has a natural tendency to ferment and form wine – yet here the Wine-maker’s skill comes into play as he guides the process to produce the best aroma and flavour as it is put together and matures. His skill turns the natural product into a beautiful, delicious wine which can give joy to those who drink it. But the wine gets better the more mature it becomes and gives more aroma and flavour – I am the Wine-maker and have been making you all your life for My table and although I want you to give flavour and aroma to all those around you, I am reserving the best for my table at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. So I am still busy removing all the impurities, so the end-product will be perfect”.
In my Bible reading; I have come to the last part of the section in Luke in chapters 7 and 8 with the common theme of Jesus’ salvation and revealing who He is, running through them. The problem with these stories is that we have heard and read them so often, it is easy to fall back on your previous recollection, rather than asking Jesus what He is saying to you today. It is clear that he brackets this section with two similar stories at either end. A healing for an important person – the centurion and then Jairus, the synagogue ruler. Alongside these two stories are two others involving women of no standing. There are two stories of rescue from the dead, with the widow in ch 7 and Jairus’s daughter in ch 8. Altogether this passage shows Jesus’ authority over sickness, death, the natural elements and the demonic world. He is truly the Messiah as prophesied in ch 4. The main lesson for us is the importance of responding in faith on the one hand and on the other to see that what He offers us is a free gift which we simply must receive to enjoy it. Jesus is portrayed again and again in different settings so that we can come to grips with this Man and get to know Him, so that we are drawn to put our faith in Him as we see him in a broader sense. You see Christian faith is not a leap in the dark. We cannot just sit and generate faith, we need to understand and be able to believe in a real figure as He is portrayed here for us. And as we get to know Him better, our faith will also grow..
So what did I feel Jesus was saying to me?
Firstly His willingness to touch the rejected and untouchable, bringing them into the warmth of His love. Then His insistence on the bleeding woman showing herself, showed He cannot be used in a superstitious way like people who go out of their way to touch relics. Healing must be accompanied by a personal meeting with Himself to fulfil His purpose. And thirdly the way He made Jairus wait may seem cruel, yet there is a sense in which time plays an important role in Jesus’ interaction with us. Like the wine-maker cannot hurry the maturing process and how the grapes are damaged beyond recognition before the best taste can come out, just so He needs and uses the crushing of pain and passage of time in the process of maturing us to the best possible aroma. Yes – His timing and His manipulation is always right.
So this is the main word I heard from Jesus – God is NEVER LATE, His timing is always right. We can – I can depend on Him completely, all I need is to learn to slow down and trust Him for as long as it takes.