In Memoriam + Gregory A Bitter
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
January 23, 2015
Central Passage
John 2:1-11

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Heather, Irene, Cole, Sydnie, Shaelynn, and Trey, to the whole family and to all that are gathered to mourn with those that mourn: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. [Amen.]

The prophet Isaiah writes, “There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished.” (Isaiah 24:11) Today our hearts cry out also. Our joy has grown dark and our gladness has been banished. Today we mourn; and we mourn with those that mourn (Romans 12:15). We cry out in anger, in frustration, in fear, even in humility and shame. For we could do nothing to prevent this. Even those who have time to prepare, who see death coming, they can do nothing to prevent it. And the One who could have prevented it, where is He, we ask. Even as Martha said to the Lord, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” (John 11)

Our joy is dark and our gladness is banished. But we do not mourn as those who have no hope.

It is written that on the third day the Lord Jesus was invited to a wedding. At that wedding the Lord Jesus filled empty jars of stone and changed water into wine, the best wine.

On the third day, also, the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead. And when the Christ arose, the firstborn from among the dead, He filled the whole world, He filled all creation with new wine, the best wine. He changed the darkness into light and filled the whole earth with gladness! So that now though we mourn, we have hope. Now though we cry out in fear and despair our fear is tempered with confidence in our heavenly Father who raised Jesus from the dead, by whom we will be raised from the dead, and our despair is softened with the hope of the glory of God in Christ Jesus, shown when the sons of God are revealed to all creation at the resurrection of all flesh.

The Lord Jesus told the servants at the wedding to fill the empty jars of stone with water. This is natural for that is why they were there: to hold water for purification. Only they were empty and could purify nothing. So the Lord filled them by His word so that they would purify. But He did not stop there because He does not purify as man purifies. Rather than leaving them with the water of men which does nothing for the heart, the Lord changed that water into wine that makes glad the hearts of men. And from these stone jars which were not meant for drinking, the guests drank the best of wine! For it is by drinking from the Lord’s Cup that men are made pure.

And are not the stone jars a symbol and type of Christ Himself? Did He not become empty, emptying Himself and taking on the form of man? Did He not fill Himself up with the Law that He might purify others? And has He not given us new wine, the best wine? Drawn not from jars of stone but poured out from His pierced hands and feet and His riven side? And with this new wine – the Lord’s wine – our darkness is changed to joy and our mourning into dancing. For the Lord’s wine is not for the stomach or body only, but in it is life for He is the life of all men. He is the resurrection. In Christ our gladness returns and our hearts soar like eagle’s wings and we are lifted up so that though we are wearied by death we run the way of life, and though we are bruised by death’s sting we are not broken; so that though we are scorned by death and hell we are not overcome by it. For the word of the Lord stands fast and true and breaks don the gates of hell that cannot stand against it, and the word of the Lord is life, eternal life.

There is another wedding begun on another third day. A heavenly wedding of the Lamb who is the Christ, to His Bride, who is the Church. And this wedding will never run dry of the wine that makes glad the hearts of men. For the Lord is not only a guest at this wedding but is Himself the Master of the Feast. And His food and drink satisfy our longing for life so that we hunger and thirst no more. Neither do we run to and fro looking for life or meaning in the platitudes and vain sayings of men, but we rest secure in the Lord and Giver of Life who sends His word like soft rain that waters the earth and brings forth abundant fruit, even you who put your trust in the Lord.

Though we are gathered today in mourning and in sadness the Lord Himself is among us. Not as guest but as the Master of the Feast. And He will change our mourning into dancing and our sadness into joy when He calls forth with the voice of an archangel and the dead in Christ rise. For those who have fallen asleep in Christ have been filled with the Holy Spirit who has been poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Lord so that having been justified by His grace we have become heirs, having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:1-5)

So let us mourn with those that mourn and let us rejoice with those that rejoice in the Lord.

+ In Nomie Iesu +