At the wedding at Cana, when Jesus changed water into wine, the master of the feast exclaimed, “But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10b)
At that wedding they were already drinking decent wine, but now comes the really good wine—ultimately the best wine. And we’re not just talking about wine.
Wine has always been associated with celebration. Especially in ancient times great celebrations (especially weddings) meant flavorful and abundant wine, especially when those funding the celebration were wealthy.
The Creator had wondrously established His Old Testament wedding feast. The people of God before Christ were already given the wine of merriment because God, their heavenly husband, had redeemed them, by buying them out of bondage to the Egyptians, leading them to safety through the Red Sea. After God brought them into the Promised Land, at some point (probably when the Lord established wine as the primary drink offering poured at the base of His altar) God’s people knew that they were going to rejoice at their Passover celebrations as they lifted up the cup of salvation and joined in drinking the cups of remembrance and celebration.
This was truly “good wine” because it was associated with God’s heretofore greatest gift of deliverance. But, sadly, the Jews would scorn their husband. God spoke with sadness through Jeremiah (31:32b): “I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.” But in this same prophecy God promised that He would create a new covenant, “Behold I make a new covenant…”
So our merciful maker had a mightier deliverance in mind, and thus, so to speak, a greater wine. In this prophecy through Jeremiah God had predicted that His bride would no longer be the people of an earthly nation, but His bride would consist of all those who know Him, from the least to the greatest…those who realize His forgiveness; believers.
In the fullness of time the fulfillment of this prophecy came to pass on the scene of Jewish history as mankind’s eternal redemption was wrought in Jesus. As he prepared to go to the cross, appropriately Jesus began His ministry by giving the first sign of his salvific identity at a wedding. On a higher, nobler plane the incarnate heavenly bridegroom is in the process of preparing a new celebration-wine, drawing it from water, ultimately redeeming His bride not with the blood of Passover lambs, but with His own blood. After His redeeming death and resurrection the Eternal Bridegroom sanctifies and cleanses His bride by the washing of water with the word (Ephesians 5), and she receives the wine of celebration as the Redeemer gives her His sacred blood for wine.
Indeed the celebration-wine of God’s Old Covenant was good wine. But our Lord had kept the really good wine until that time when God our Savior appeared to establish His blood-bought bride, the Holy Christian Church. Now His people truly have the good wine, a wine that will only improve as they are guaranteed a never-known-before celebration, gathering at the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Indeed, this will not just be the good wine, this will be the best wine, the best celebration.