. . . Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
—2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
Temptations to despair will come. Suffering and affliction will be with us always. And just as fire purifies gold and silver, burning up all the impurities, and just as it tempers steel, making it stronger, so it is that our Lord uses suffering and affliction, trial and testing to purify us and strengthen our faith. For our Father in heaven uses these things for our good, so that we do not become complacent but hope all the more for our homecoming in heaven. For suffering and affliction produce endurance; and endurance produces character; and character produces hope; and hope does not put us to shame because the love of the Father is pouring into our hearts through the Holy Spirit by the Word and promise of God (Rom 5:3–5). And this hope raises us up heavenward to fix our gaze upon the greater glory that shall be ours.
“Be holy, even as I am holy.” More than a command, but now also a promise from our heavenly Father who cannot lie. His Word brings about what it says. We are holy because He has declared us to be holy. For He shares His holiness with us. And it consists in this, that Jesus, the Holy One of God, was crucified for our transgressions and raised for our justification (Rom 4:24–25).
And just as it went for our Lord, so it goes for you. The devil leaves and the holy angels come and minister unto you “ . . . therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven . . .”
And so it is that this daily yearning for our earthly homes and for those whom we love is to be a reminder of our yearning for our true home, our heavenly home. We are not to be lulled into thinking and believing that this present place is all there is. We long for a better country, heaven. For our journey is not simply to work and home again, on vacation and home again. Our journey is toward salvation. We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Our journey is with and in Christ: to the Cross, to the Empty Tomb, to the Father in heaven, just as our Lord. And so we follow Him in repentance and faith, for He is leading us home.
You, too, have not seen and yet you see. You believe because of the Word and promise of God. You believe not by what you have seen but by what you have heard. And blessed are you who have believed and not seen. For faith is the substance of things not seen, the evidence of things hoped for. And by this faith, you are saved. Your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. For faith apprehends and takes hold of the promises of God and applies it specifically.
For you He suffered the weeds that choke, the birds that snatch, the rocks that bruise your roots and steal your moisture, the feet that trod upon your head. For you He died and rose again. He declares you innocent and pure. He opens heaven.
We think that those who labored longer should receive a greater wage. And we protest that it’s not fair. But that is precisely the point. It’s not fair. It’s by grace. It’s given from God’s undeserved love and kindness, not by merit. So we should rejoice. For to ask for fairness, to ask to be treated by what deserve and have earned, is simply to ask for hell.
To have no wine at the wedding feast, then, was not to have the blessing of God. To have no wine is to have the bride and groom about to begin a new life together without the sign that blesses this new life. To have no wine is in essence not to have God present at the wedding. For only God can bless and give new life as the author and giver of them both.
Despite his illness, the Lord remembers him. The Lord remembers His promises. The covenant He made with him at His Baptism. The promise God made to Him in His Word, in having received the very Body and Blood of Jesus.