We live in this beautiful place surrounded by vineyards. Throughout the year we watch how the farmers take care of their vine. In the spring they check if the wires are tight enough for the vine to spread on them. Then they remove any dead trunks and prune the healthy branches. They manage the pests with the necessary applications. They mow the rows to control the weeds so they don’t suck the energy out of the soil. As the grapes shoot up, they thin the clusters to adjust the crop load. Later the leaves are thinned to adjust the exposure to sun. Again and again the pests and weeds are controlled. As the fruit mature in summer, nets cover the vine to avoid the birds messing up the clusters. When it is finally the time to harvest the grapes, there is a big festival and the whole village gathers together with their families, friends and enemies to celebrate the harvest. Each one takes his special vine scissor and goes out to hand pick the grapes. They are collected together in huge troughs and brought to the press.
Here those tender sweet grape clusters are mercilessly crushed together in the wine press. This is the time when the grapes lose their name, their shape and size; they are crushed, stomped and trodden by many until there is nothing left of its originality. The grapes are mutated. It loses its skin, its flesh and its seeds. It is like losing one’s identity, self confidence and future.
At first it may look like it is only getting from bad to worse. The mutated grapes begin to rot and ferment. Strange odor covers the air. No one wants to be near that. The sweetness of the grapes turns smelly and sour. It converts to alcohol and stays like that for a while. When no one is watching, a lot of microorganism activities and complex chemical reactions take place; things that our minds can’t explain or understand. This is the work of God’s hand. If the grapes hang on to its grape-ness, they will never be christened as wine. Without losing, there is no gaining. The old has to die for the new to take form.
Now the wine is very vulnerable, unstable and reactive to the changes in its environment. It goes through a process of clarifying, filtering, and fining to remove any unwanted solids. They are then stored in oak barrels and bottles to age. During this time, the acidity decreases, the quality develops according to the exposure of the humidity in the storage place. This process is a science in itself that brings the wine to its peak with the perfect aroma and color to give a softer mouth feel.
To be poured out like wine is not to be taken lightly. Pressing comes before being poured out at the table. James and John in Mt 20:22 did not know what it meant to reign with Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” It is not about status, power, position and privilege. If you want to reign with Jesus, you need to suffer with him as well. Even Jesus thought for a second in Mk 14:36 and said, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he became the drink offering through which we live.
When pressed, rejoice and be glad. The crown of righteousness is in store for you.