Faithlife
Faithlife

Sermon for Epiphany 2C Jan 14 2007

Notes & Transcripts

| Jan. 14 | Second S. a. the Epiphany | Is. 62:1-5 | Psalm 128  | 1 Cor. 12:1-11 | ! John 2:1-11

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Title:  The Sign of Salvation

Theme:  “But you have kept the good wine until now.”

I grew up in the 50’s, and one of my favorite television shows was a drama that was hosted by Rod Serling.  Each week the show would begin with creepy music and an introduction that said something like this: “You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, The Twilight Zone!”

As I explained to the kids this morning, we are surrounded with signs.  Signs give us directions, instructions, warnings, and information.  Signs stimulate our mind, emotions, heart and, perhaps even our soul.  From the very beginning of human creation, signs have been a part of our lives.

In our Church Year, we have entered the Season of Epiphany.  Epiphany is all about signs that communicate God’s plan of salvation to us in new and different ways.  During the next few Sundays as we move toward the Season of Lent, the signs of Epiphany will direct us to the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth, as He begins His ministry among the people of Palestine.  Open your eyes and ears and minds to these signs from God given in Jesus.  Prepare yourselves to meditate upon Jesus in the soon to come Season of Lent.

The wedding feast at Cana.

Today our Gospel text is the first miracle or sign of Jesus as He began His ministry after being baptized by John.  The Gospel of John in most English translations uses the term “sign” instead of the more familiar “miracle.”  For this event, sign might be more appropriate because it seems that nothing much of significance really happened.  Jesus changed some water into wine.  Big deal, compared to what He would do later in His ministry!  If John was writing to people in an effort to convince them that Jesus was the living Son of God, why begin with just a sign?  Why not a great miracle?

Because John’s Gospel seems to tell the story of Jesus’ ministry as a spiral.  Jesus begins His ministry with a sign at a wedding attended by family, friends, guests, and some of His disciples.  As time passes, His teaching, preaching and healing, being repeated and elevated, increases in scope and impact.  Please look for this in the coming Scripture texts from Luke during the next few Sundays.

Let’s consider the time of this wedding at Cana.  The people of Galilee were a people living within the Roman Empire.  There was peace, for sure.  But the Pax Romano was maintained by the point of spears and the blades of swords.  The people of Palestine were subject to pagan laws and rituals, and could be forced to do whatever was demanded of them by the occupying forces.  To refuse was to court death.  Why had this happened to “God’s chosen people?”

·        Israel has become a harlot; the leaders and many of the people are in open rebellion against God.

·        Because of their unbelief, Israel has not heard from God for over 400 years.

·        Israel has been consistently occupied by pagan foreign powers.

·        The people are divided in their beliefs and practices; their hearts and minds have grown cold.

·        Survival of the nation is the focus of the current leaders, because they think that the nation is the “son of God”, and somehow God will rescue His “son.”

·        In summation, Israel is in bondage to sin, to foreign authorities, to pagan beliefs and practices, and to a complete misunderstanding of God’s plan of redemption.

·        The wedding that was consummated between God and the people at Mt. Sinai has ended in divorce.  The wine of celebration is gone, and the people have been left thirsting for the wine of new life that can only come from God.

If any of these reasons for the suffering of the Jews sounds familiar, it’s probably because many of the same things could be said about our culture today, and specifically about our Christian culture. 

But there was at least one event during which the people of Jesus’ day could really celebrate, and that was a wedding!  The marriage ceremony of a bride and bridegroom brought great joy to families, friends, and the village where they lived.  Some marriage celebrations used to last for a week if the families were wealthy.

On this day, in the small town of Cana, Jesus comes to a wedding.  Someone from his family must have been a relative, or perhaps it was His new disciple Nathaniel, who was from Cana.  Jesus came to enjoy the day, to relax from His long journey back from the Jordan River.  But while at the wedding, Jesus’ mother informs Him that the wine has run out.  You can imagine the scene, mother and Son communicating without words.  You can almost hear Jesus say “Why me?  It’s not my time.”  Mary says to the servants “Do whatever He says,” knowing that He will obey her.  And six stone jars of water suddenly contain the very best wine that is usually served first.

Jesus uses this unexpected opportunity as a sign, an epiphany, for the benefit of His family, those gathered for the wedding, and especially for His new disciples.

Perhaps Mary coming to Jesus to seek His help was God’s way of moving Jesus the man to begin the journey that would ultimately take Him to Jerusalem one final time.  This small town in Cana could have been the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, moved her Son to act on behalf of a family in need.  This epiphany of Jesus would be the first sign that the Kingdom of God had indeed arrived as He had promised, but in a way that would be very surprising.

I see four signs of the Gospel in this story.

First Jesus coming to this wedding feast affirms that God has come to meet people at the basic level of family—the beginning of a lifelong covenant of marriage between one man and one woman.  Jesus affirms the created intent of God in making man and woman. “And He answered and said, "Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, `FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? 6 "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

The second sign was that His attendance at the wedding was Jesus giving His body to the people, His body that would be humiliated upon the cross, His innocent body that would be pierced with nails and spear and filled with the sins of the whole world.  His righteous, innocent, and perfect.  Body would be humiliated for our sake. And to remember and consume Him, he tells us to John 6:35 (ESV) 

    Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and

 "Take and eat; this is my body, given for you."

The third sign was the turning of the water that was used for cleansing the outside of the sinful bodies of His people into the sweet wine of the forgiveness of sin.  This sign was that His very own blood would be poured out into the hard stone bodies of sinners for the forgiveness of their sins.  To be filled with the sweet wine of the shed blood of Jesus is to be redeemed into the family of God once again. whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

The sign of the wedding at Cana finally points to the sign that we have before us today, the sign of the cross of Christ.  His earthly throne was made of wood, and angry men nailed Him there because they could not bring themselves to believe in Him, even though all of Gospel His signs point directly to the Father.  The cross becomes the sign that we all have to face, the sign that stands at the crossroads—one leading to eternal life with Christ, and one leading to eternal separation from Christ.   Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

The effect of this miracle is noteworthy. It marked the beginning of a ministry accompanied by supernatural power; and it proved so convincing to the new disciples that they "put their faith in him." The deed helped confirm the conclusion they had drawn from their previous interviews with him: Jesus must be the Messiah.

What we are called to do as disciples in Christ is to proclaim the Good News that has been given to us in word and deed.  We can do this by affirming God’s created design for family, by offering our bodies to touch those in need, by speaking the truth in love to fill the hearts and minds of the lost with the sweet wine of Christ’s surprising presence, and to always be pointing to the cross, the throne of Christ.  He has done it all for us, and in response we become His signs to a world that He desires to redeem.

As Lutheran Christians today, we, too, have put our faith in Him.  And in doing so, we have the daily opportunity to be walking epiphanies for Jesus. 

Whatever word is used, there is no doubt that something significant happened that identified Jesus as being more than just a man.  And that is the purpose of an epiphany—as a sign that points to Jesus as the very Son of God who come into the world clothed in flesh for the mission of bringing God’s saving grace to a hopeless and helpless humanity. Jesus had come to bring about conversion: water to wine, sinners to saints. And this latter miracle of transformation occurred in almost complete obscurity.

   

People get so used to consuming the wine of the world that brings eternal separation from God, that when the wine of the Gospel is presented, they are unable to taste that which brings eternal life with God.  From the beginning, God has never held back.  He has always presented us with the best wine, that which is sweet and pure and gives us eternal life.  It is we who decide to drink instead the polluted wine of the world that brings sin, suffering and death.  The great Good News continues to be that God’s sweet wine of life in Jesus Christ is available, right now, for those who will drink of Him, our Savior.  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)

Miracles are theological statements in signs, according to Dr. Harry Wendt.  What is the statement in this sign given at Cana?  That God has come to earth in Christ to fill our empty lives  fully with His sweet, delicious wine of grace and mercy that brings us the joy of knowing that we have peace and everlasting life with our loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

1 Cor. 12:7-11 (ESV) 

    To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  [8] To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,  [9] to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  [10] to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  [11] All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

And now may the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

The purpose of Jesus' first miracle after entering Galilee is not stated. In fact, for the most part its occurrence was unknown. The specific details of place and time emphasize the historicity of the miracle and lessen the likelihood that it should be interpreted allegorically. The nature of the miracle is very plain. Few know when or how it happened, but they know that it did happen.

Our great challenge in today’s culture is how do we share the Good News that we know to be true with people in a way that will make them disciples who believe in Him? 

Jesus must be accepted on his own terms. We cannot cut him to fit the gaping holes in our garments: we must cast off the old and let him clothe us completely. And in the same way those old categories that shaped thinking must be set aside, as we let the gospel message infuse our lives and give us a fresh, new shape, chosen by God's Spirit, in which the new wine of God's work within us can mature toward beauty and holiness.

Yet the OT calls for moderation and rejects both drunkenness and a love for drink (Pr 20:1; 21:17; 23:20). The two sides of the use of wine--abuse and proper use--are both seen in Amos: God's people were condemned for sins associated with wine (Am 2:8, 12; 5:11; 6:6) and, in the later chapters, which are filled with promise of restoration, they were promised that wine would "drip from the mountains" (Am 9:13) and that they would "plant vineyards and drink their wine" (v. 14).

  The Greek word for wine is oinos. References in the NT show the same appreciation of wine and the same condemnation of its abuse as the OT. Wine is associated with the joy of the marriage feast at Cana (Jn 2), but drunkenness is condemned as characteristic of a pagan lifestyle (1 Pe 4:3; Eph 5:18). Wine was also recommended by Paul to Timothy for medicinal use (1 Ti 5:23). Probably Eph 5:18, which calls on believers not to "get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery," but rather to "be filled with the Spirit," puts the issue in perspective. The Christians' bubbling joy is produced by the Spirit of God, who lifts all of life beyond the ordinary. If we are filled with the Spirit, there is little need for wine's artificial stimulation.

 4. The interlude at Capernaum (2:12)

12 This verse covers an unspecified period of time. It is introduced by the indefinite phrase "after this" and it says that Jesus' family and disciples stayed at Capernaum "for a few days." There is no clear indication that Jesus traveled in Galilee for some time between this sojourn and his trip to Jerusalem. Since the synoptic Gospels seem to imply that he had an early ministry in Galilee, it may fit at this point.

    The allusion to Jesus' brothers recurs also in the synoptic Gospels. According to Mark 6:3, Jesus had four brothers and some sisters. Little is said about them in the Gospels; and only James appears later in the Book of Acts, as the moderator of the church in Jerusalem. Another allusion to them occurs in John 7:2-10. Several interpretations have been offered concerning Jesus' siblings: (1) they were children of Joseph by a previous marriage, (2) they were really Jesus' cousins, or (3) they were younger children of Joseph and Mary. The second view is probably incorrect since the word for cousin (anepsios) existed in the Greek language and could have been used if needed. The theory that they may have been stepbrothers of Jesus might be possible and might explain why Jesus did not bequeath the care of his mother to them at the time of his death. The most logical solution is to conclude that they were younger children of Joseph and Mary, born subsequent to Jesus. It accords with the implication of Matthew 1:24-25. The first or second view is supported by those who contend for the perpetual virginity of Mary.

 John’s Gospel is not necessarily chronological like Luke’s.  Instead, it is resembles more of a spiral.  Jesus has returned to Galilee after being baptized by his cousin John.  Following him are some of John’s disciples.  John told his own small group of students “Behold, ithe Lamb of God!”  As Jesus journeyed back to his home, he called other men to join him.

   

The overemphasis on ceremony like washing was a sign that the people could only see the outside as needing cleansing.  They had forgotten to pay attention to taking in the righteous Word of God for internal cleansing that would bring an outflow of love and compassion for others.  It’s interesting to note that a nation who no longer had God’s presence guiding them would still place a heavy emphasis on the ceremonial laws like washing.  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

The law was given by God as a means of grace to establish boundaries within which God’s people live peacefully in community and in relationship with God.  But the law is the law—there is no equivocation in the law.  One must be perfect in living under the law, because the law will also accuse those who break the law.  And God’s justice in accord with the law is that of perfection.  Anything else is a departure from the law, and a breaking of the relationship with a holy God.

·        Jesus comes to participate in the wedding feast, to celebrate with family and friends the blessings of life that God has bestowed upon His people. "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.

·        Jesus comes to make a statement about what is more important—the external cleansing provided by ceremony or the internal redemption provided by the wine of God, which is the blood of Christ. "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? 45 "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me.

Jesus comes to make a clear statement of epiphany—He is the One sent from God to provide for the needs of the people in new and unexpected ways, to fill the empty stone hearts and minds of the people with the fresh wine of God’s grace, so that dead hearts and empty minds can brought to new life in Christ the Lord.  And the LORD will answer and say to His people,

  "Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine, and oil,

  And you will be satisfied in full with them; And I will never again make you a reproach among the nations. (Joel 2:19)

In doing all of this, Jesus is giving His disciples a clear picture of who He is, and what He will do.  He is truly the Lamb of God sent to take away the sin of the world, by shedding His own blood that will atone forever all the sins of the world, past, present, and future, and place them in the crypt of death from which He would arise. On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, z “If anyone thirsts, let him acome to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, bas1 the Scripture has said, c ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of dliving water.’ ” [1]

·         

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost

The Prayer of the Church concludes gather us together from the ends of
the earth to celebrate with all the faithful the Marriage Feast of the
Lamb in His Kingdom, which has no end.  The life of the Church in her
public worship is one of a wedding feast.  Christ, our bridegroom,
unites His bride, the Church, when He comes into His kingdom upon the
cross.  The marriage covenant is signed in water and blood, pouring
forth from His side.

So what happens when the wine runs out?  Would the Lord allow such a
thing to happen?  He promises to give us more than what we ask or
deserve.  We shouldn’t worry about wine running short.

But we worry.  We run to Jesus just as Mary runs to Him saying they have
no wine.  We expect a sign, a wonder, or a voice from on high ready to
fix the problem instantly.  After all, we’re talking about Jesus, the
Son of the Most High God.  He can do it!

Instead of a sign, we get a straight pin thrust into our balloon.  What
does your concern have to do with Me?  My hour has not yet come.  POP!
Jesus doesn’t care.  Jesus won’t answer my prayer.  My hour of need is
come but the Lord’s hour and my hour aren’t the same.

That’s how we would respond if Jesus told us what He told Mary.  Many
Christians believe God answers prayer.  Many more believe God ought
answer prayer in our time, not His time.  When God says no to our
prayer, we lose hope.  We never wonder whether or not His “no” is best
for us.  We get mad.  We put the Lord on notice that He better come
through soon or else He’s dead to us.  After all, we’re dead to Him
because He doesn’t care.

That’s not how Mary deals with her son’s answer.  Mary didn’t respond in
anger.  She didn’t think Jesus had it in for her.  She asks the question
because she knows her Son can help.  Jesus’ response sounds like her
question falls on deaf ears.  She tells the servants do whatever He
tells you.

It is one thing to see Jesus perform signs.  It is another thing to see
them and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  There’s
where Mary shows us how foolish we are when we shake our fist at a
seemingly indifferent God.

Repent.  God is not indifferent.  If God were indifferent, would he not
have sent His only-begotten Son into the flesh to redeem us from Satan?

The most-high God, the God of inaccessible majesty, comes to us unhappy
men in the garb of man.  His desire is to be Emmanuel: God with us and
God among us. (Parsch)  We confess this to be true when we sing the hymn
What A Friend We Have in Jesus: “Can we find a Friend so faithful/ Who
will all our sorrows share? / Jesus knows our every weakness/ Take it to
the Lord in prayer.”

Mary took the problem to the Lord.  The Lord took care of the problem,
but in an unexpected way…at least unexpected to us.  We expect Jesus to
find water, wave His arms over the water, say something strange and
mysterious, and, all of a sudden, there’s water.  Jesus goes about it
another way.

Jesus asks the servants to fill six large pots with water.  Once the
jars were filled, Jesus says to the servants draw some out now, and take
it to the master of the feast.  They took it, he tasted it, and water
became wine.  Not just any old wine, but the good wine.

We are used to just getting by with any old thing.  We didn’t have
T-bone steak or caviar every night for dinner, but we did have something
to eat.  All our clothes aren’t designer labels, but we do have
clothing.  We don’t live in multi-million dollar mansions, but we do
have a roof over our heads.

Jesus gives us more than “just getting by”.  He gives us the good wine.
  Jesus doesn’t know how to give any other way than the best.  What He
gives us is the better than all the leading brands.  He gives us
forgiveness.  He gives us eternal life.  He gives us hope.  He sets us
free.  He answers our greatest prayer: deliverance from every evil.

The disciples recognize from this miracle that Jesus is the Son of God
and the true Messiah; since He is able to do what no other human being
is able to do, namely, alter the nature of created things by changing
water into wine. (BML)

We recognize from this miracle that Jesus can do the impossible.  He
alters our future when He takes on our flesh to bear our sin and be our
Savior.  Just as Mary believes Jesus can do something about the lack of
wine, so we too believe that Jesus can do something about our eternity.

This miracle serves chiefly to teach us Who Christ is and to seek His
help and mercy with confidence whenever in need.  He will supply it at
the proper time. (BML)

Jesus supplies us with the Word preached and taught here.  This Word is
living and active.  This Word destroys death.  This Word bestows life.
This Word creates and sustains faith.  This Word washes you clean in
Baptism.  This Word brings forgiveness in Communion.  This Word absolves
sins.  This Word carries you into Paradise when you die.  This Word will
make all things new on Judgment Day.

Saint Augustine said I would not believe if it weren’t for the miracles.
  All miracles of Christ relate to and call for faith.  God’s Word and
His miracles are the two pillars and foundation of faith.  We come to
know God’s good and gracious will for us from the Word and His promises.
  We come to know God is all-powerful from the signs His Son performs.
(Gerhard)

The trusting heart rests safely in Jesus Christ, God’s miraculous Sign
for us wrapped in flesh and blood.  He turns our whining into good wine.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost
--
Rev. David M. Juhl
Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Church
Iuka, IL

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 14, 2007
The Rev. Charles Henrickson

"The Sign of the Water into Wine at the Wedding" (John
2:1-11)

The thing about a sign is that you need to be able to
read it, you need to be able to understand what it
means.  For instance, you're driving along a road, and
you see a sign with a picture of a deer on it.  If you
don't understand the meaning of the sign, you might be
surprised when a deer jumps out in front of your
car--although I've always wondered how the deer can
read the sign and know that's where they're supposed
to cross.

It's important to be able to read the sign and know
what it means, what it's pointing to.  That's true
also when it comes to looking at the things Jesus does
in the gospels.  The miracles he performs are called
"signs and wonders."  The thing about a sign is that
it points to something beyond itself.  When Jesus does
a miracle, there's something more going on than just a
power display that makes us go ooh and ahh.  It's not
just to show that Jesus is a real powerful guy, even a
real powerful guy sent from God--although it does tell
us at least that much.  The signs tell us even more
about who Jesus is, his character and his identity,
his nature as the Son of God come in the flesh, his
office as messianic King and Lord and Savior.  The
miracles of Jesus--the signs that he performs, tell us
something about the nature of his mission, what he
came to do for us men and for our salvation.  They
tell us about the new age that he inaugurates by his
coming.  And they tell us about how he is going to do
that, how he's going to bring it about, by his death
and resurrection.  So the signs of Jesus, his many
miracles, are "significant" in the truest sense of the
term:  They are signs pointing to who Jesus is and
what he came to do.

The miracle that we read about today--changing water
into wine at the wedding at Cana--that is one of
Jesus' signs.  In fact, the apostle and evangelist St.
John informs us that this was "the first of his
signs."  This was the first miracle that Jesus
performed during his public ministry.  So let's find
out what this sign is pointing to, what it tells us
about who Jesus is and what he came to do and what
that means for us.  Let's read the sign.

Most of us are pretty familiar with the basic elements
of the story itself.  There is a wedding going on at
Cana, a town not far from Nazareth, where Jesus grew
up.  Jesus' mother is invited, as are Jesus and his
disciples.  The wedding feast is going on, but a
problem arises when they run out of wine.  Jesus'
mother intervenes.  She asks her son for help.  He
agrees to, not on the basis of a maternal request, but
because what he is about to do will fit in with his
purpose of why he, the Son of God from heaven, came to
earth to be our Redeemer.  This miracle will be a sign
pointing to his mission and his particular "hour" that
is still to come.  So Jesus tells the servants to fill
some large jars with water and then to draw some out
and take it to the guy in charge of the wedding feast.
 They do what Jesus says, and, lo and behold, the
water has been turned to wine, and not just any old
wine but the very best quality wine.

So that's the story in bare outline.  Clear enough.
Jesus has the authority and the ability to do some
pretty impressive stuff.  Powers only God could have,
or someone sent from God.  It's like he's the Lord of
creation.  Well, he is!  This sign does tell us at
least that much:  That Jesus has authority and power
of clearly divine origin.  But is there more?  Does
this sign point to some other things about who Jesus
is and what he came to do?  I think it does.  There's
something in the nature of this miracle itself, the
setting and circumstances of how it takes place, that
tells us something about Jesus.  Let me suggest three
things.

First, the miracle takes place at a wedding.  That is
significant.  Weddings back then, as now, can be big
and elaborate affairs.  People pull out the stops for
a wedding feast.  No expense is spared.  Believe me, I
can you that is true, having gone through this for our
daughter Mary just this past year!  No expense is
spared!  I think some of the rest of you know what I'm
talking about.  For a wedding and a wedding feast, you
want only the best, top quality.  Everything must be
just right.

That's the way it is with Jesus.  This sign tells us
that.  Only the best, that's what Jesus provides.
"You have kept the good wine until now," that's what
the wine expert testifies.  Jesus brings in the best
stuff.  No cheapo knock-offs.  This is the real deal.
And it does not come cheap.  Oh, it comes free, free
for us.  But it does not come cheap.  The blessings
Jesus bestows come at great expense.  His own.  "He
has redeemed me, not with gold or silver, but with his
holy precious blood and with his innocent suffering
and death."  The cost was precious, that is, full of
great price.  The unsurpassable price was the blood
shed on the cross by the very Son of God.  Nothing
could be of greater value than that.  So the help that
Jesus gives, the good wine at the wedding feast, comes
absolutely free as a gift to us, because it cost
Christ absolutely everything.  Jesus himself bore all
the great cost.  All by grace:  "God's Riches At
Christ's Expense."

The reason people are willing to pull out all the
stops for a wedding is because it is an event of such
great joy.  It is literally, or it's supposed to be, a
truly once-in-a-lifetime event.  A wedding is about as
joyous an event as we can have in this life.  It
signals the start of a new life, a new life together
for that couple, a new unit in society.  It portends
new life to come, in the promise of children, a new
family.  New life, hope, great joy--all of these are
basic to the idea of a wedding.

That's the way it is with Jesus.  This sign tells us
that too.  Unsurpassed joy is what Jesus brings.  The
highest joy that we can imagine.  New life is what he
brings.  Hope for the future.  Eternal life,
everlasting life.  Even death will not part us.  Jesus
gives us new life now.  He puts us into a new
relationship with God, brings us together.  And he
puts us into a new relationship with one another, when
he brings us into the church.  A new family is
created.

So it is no accident that Jesus performs this sign at
a wedding.  Because a wedding, a wedding feast, is a
very appropriate image to use when talking about the
new reality that Jesus brings about.  The Bible uses
this image of a wedding banquet many, many times, both
in the Old Testament and in the New, to describe what
God promises to his people and what Jesus then brings
about.  How many times does Jesus tell stories about a
wedding banquet in his parables?  Lots of times!  "The
kingdom of heaven is like a wedding banquet . . ." he
says so often.  And in the Book of Revelation, heaven
is pictured as the marriage supper of the Lamb in his
kingdom, which will have no end.  You know, Jesus
gives us a foretaste of that feast to come here in the
blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

So this sign takes place at a wedding, a wedding
feast, to be specific.  What the sign points to, then,
is that Jesus pulls out all the stops, he spares no
expense, to bestow his gifts upon us.  And it is the
occasion for great joy, the highest joy we can
imagine, because of the new life and new family he
creates.  A wedding feast is just about the best
experience we know in this life to convey pure
unbridled joy--or maybe I should say,
bride-and-bridegroomed joy--so Christ chooses just
such an occasion to tell us something about what he is
doing.

That's where the wine comes in.  Wine is a drink
common to all times and cultures, and in all times and
cultures it carries an association beyond just
something to drink.  Wine has the universal meaning of
joy.  Wine gladdens the heart, the Bible says.  Again,
that's the way it is with Jesus.  The wine he provides
conveys joy to our souls.  And this is the very best
joy, even as the wine Jesus provides is the very best
quality.  "You have kept the good wine until now."

But there's even more here going on with this sign of
the wine.  It is a sign that Jesus is fulfilling
certain Old Testament prophecies, prophecies about the
arrival of the messianic age.  Listen to a few of
these:

Joel 3:18:  "And in that day the mountains shall drip
sweet wine. . . ."

Amos 9:13:  "Behold, the days are coming," declares
the LORD, "when the plowman shall overtake the reaper
and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the
mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills
shall flow with it."

Isaiah 25:6-8:  "On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a
feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow,
of aged wine well refined.  And he will swallow up on
this mountain the covering that is cast over all
peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.  He
will swallow up death forever."

You see what the Old Testament prophets Joel and Amos
and Isaiah were prophesying?  They were saying that
days were coming when there would be a great provision
of wine for God's people, the wine of course being
understood as meaning a time of great joy.  Indeed,
there would be an abundance, an overflow, of this
wine.  It will be all over the place, nothing held
back.  And when will all this take place?  What is
being referred to by "in that day" or "the days are
coming"?  It's referring to the coming messianic age,
the new age that will break in when God's promised
Messiah, the promised Deliverer, finally arrives.

Well, guess what?  Here he is!  The abundant provision
of wine is the sign.  Remember, this was at the
beginning of Jesus' ministry, his first sign.  Jesus
signals his arrival as the Messiah, and the arrival of
the new age of blessing, by providing this great
superabundance of wine.  Six big water jars full,
filled to the brim.  "Each holding twenty or thirty
gallons," it says.  Can you visualize that, six stone
jars, each with 20-30 gallons?  That's 120-180
gallons!  That's a lot of wine!  Really good wine,
too, even when the wedding feast must have been mostly
over.  Do you see what Jesus is signaling?  He brings
a superabundance of blessing, more than enough!  Jesus
would later say, "I have come that they may have life,
and have it in abundance."

But now that leads us to one more thing about this
sign.  We've already talked about the fact that it was
a wedding, an occasion of great joy, when no expense
is spared.  We've talked about wine, that it too is
associated with joy and that this abundance of wine
fulfills the Old Testament prophecies about the
arrival of the messianic age.  But now the third
thing, the matter of these six water jars.  Six stone
water jars used for the Jewish rites of purification.
Why does John tells us that detail?  He didn't have
to.  Why does he?

Well, think about it.  It fits with a theme that we
see in John's gospel, a theme of replacement.  Jesus
replaces and surpasses things from the Old Testament
Jewish religion.  John 1, "The Word became flesh and
dwelt among us."  It literally says that Jesus
"tabernacled" among us.  What the Old Testament
tabernacle was all about--God dwelling in the midst of
his people--Jesus replaces and surpasses in an even
greater way.  Also from John 1, "Behold, the Lamb of
God who takes away the sin of the world."  Jesus
replaces and surpasses all the lambs, all the Old
Testament sacrificial animals, by making the
once-and-for-all sacrifice of his own body on the
cross.  Then in John 2, right after our text for
today, Jesus says, "Destroy this temple and in three
days I will raise it up."  Jesus is talking about his
own crucified and risen body.  He himself replaces and
surpasses the Jewish temple, as the place where God
provides forgiveness of sins.

So this text likewise, with the six stone jars used
for the Jewish rites of purification--this too fits
the theme of replacement.  Jesus himself replaces and
surpasses these means of purification.  John would
later write in his epistle:  "The blood of Jesus,
God's Son, cleanses us from all sin."

How does he do that?  Note that Jesus says, "My hour
has not yet come."  But it will come, and this sign
points to that.  Jesus' hour will come, the hour of
his Passion, the hour of his suffering and death.
When Jesus dies on the cross, and blood and water flow
from his pierced side--there is your purification!

"This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in
Galilee, and manifested his glory.  And his disciples
believed in him."  Can you read the sign?  The sign of
turning water into wine at the wedding manifests,
shows forth, several things about who Jesus is and
what he comes to do.  First, it happens at a wedding,
an occasion of great joy, when no expense is spared.
Second, Jesus provides wine, likewise conveying great
joy, signaling that Jesus brings in the messianic age
of blessing, and that he does this in abundance, more
than enough.  Third, Jesus replaces and surpasses the
water of Jewish purification with the new wine that he
provides, for he himself is our cleansing and
purification from all sins.

Oh, and there's one more thing that this sign says:
Simply, "FOR YOU!"


Charles Henrickson
6519 San Bonita, Apt. 1W
Clayton, MO 63105
(314) 727-2846 (home)
(314) 779-8108 (cell)
henricksonc@yahoo.com

Do Not Drink The Water--Use A Little Wine
A Sermon For The Second Sunday After Epiphany
Based Upon John 2:1-11
January 14, AD 2007

Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the
manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons
apiece. Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they
filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now,
and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. 9 When the
master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did
not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water
knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to
him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the
guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine
until now!" (John 2:6-10)


It is a good thing that the miraculous change to wine happened. 
Otherwise, the people at the wedding feast would be drinking water. 
And that would mean sadness.

It would mean sadness for you.  And you already have enough of that in
your life, don’t you?

Thanks be to Jesus that He has come to change your water into wine. 
Thanks be to God that He has come in the midst of life’s sadnesses to
give you lifelong joy.  That is the beautiful lesson that the Holy
Spirit teaches us in today’s Gospel, using the symbolism of the change
of six jars of water to six jars of wine.

Six jars.  “Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you
shall rest” (Exodus 23:12).  Six days is symbolic of the entire earthly
life of the Christian, the time in which you live out your life under
the daily blessing of God, the time that passes before you pass away
and enter the day of eternal rest in God’s Heaven.

Notice that those six jars are filled to the neck--to the very
brim--with the waters.  This signifies that the days of our lives are
filled with sad and troubling things.  Water is used in many verses of
the Bible to depict the troubles in life that would seem to swamp us,
to sweep over us and make us feel as though we are being drowned by our
troubles.  A clear example of that is in Psalm 69, where David uses
that symbolism to speak about the trials he was facing in his life,
saying: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink
in deep mire, Where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me” (Psalm 69:1-2).

Troubled waters were about to spill over and drown out the joy of the
people at that wedding feast in Cana.  They were almost out of wine,
just when the party was getting started.  Some of the guests would only
be slightly annoyed, while others would be downright angry--especially
those who had gone through a great amount of time and effort and
expense to attend the wedding.  Both the groom and the bride and their
families would be filled with embarrassment and shame over this social
faux pas, and soon accusing fingers from the bride’s side of the aisle
would be pointing toward the groom’s side, and vice versa, as each
blamed the other for the mistake.  What was intended by God to be a day
for celebrating unity would flow into a day where the vow made just a
few hours earlier--“For better, for worse”--would be put to its first
test.

The fact that this story takes place at a wedding also indicates that
this story is about more than just a single miracle performed at a
single wedding--as marvelous as that miracle truly is.  This setting
brings us in the Spirit all the way back to the first wedding, and to
the troubled waters that flowed out of the Garden of Eden soon
thereafter.  The joy of the first wedding feast, a joy that was
intended to last forever, was washed away when Adam waved his finger at
Eve and Eve pointed the finger of blame right back at her groom.  Our
very own parents had brought sin, and all of its troubles, upon
themselves--and upon us.  Their sin--and our own--bring troubles upon
us throughout the entire six-day span of our life.  Our lives are
filled to the brim with sadness over relationships broken with our
family members and friends by embarrassing words spoken and shameful
deeds done, by them and by ourselves.  Our days are filled--to
overflowing sometimes--with sadness over the many troubles that come
upon our loved ones and ourselves as a result of life in a broken
world--a life that ends with a body broken unto death.

But the Creator has come into His creation to give new life to His
creatures.    He has come to transform our sadness into gladness.  He
has come to change the water into something new: wine.

Wine is mentioned often in the Scriptures.  Sometimes it is in a
negative way, as when overindulgence leads to drunkenness and then to
other sins.  But wine is also used positively to express merriment in
the Lord, and the joy that God brings to His people--and even to
Himself; as we learn from the Book of The Judges, the 6th Chapter, “new
wine . . . cheers both God and men” (Judges 6:13).

Yes, it brings joy to God to bring joy to you.  That is why He changes
your water into wine--it not only pleases you, but it pleases God to do
so.  He is pleased to fill your life to the full with gladness.  He
delights in filling you to the brim with joy.

That is why Jesus has come into the world.  That is why Jesus went to
that particular wedding in Cana and performed that wondrous miracle of
transforming water into wine.  It pleased Him to fill the master of the
feast with wonder at His grace.  It pleased Him to please His mother
with another example of His goodness to treasure in her heart.  It
pleased Him to please us with this marvelous depiction of His love for
all of the undeserving children on the family tree of God--from Adam
and Eve to you.

Yes, it pleased Jesus to appear at that marriage feast in Cana on the
third day, to depict for us what His reappearance on the third day
following His death would bring to us.  The waters of sadness flowing
from the eyes of His mourning disciples were transformed into pure joy
streaming down their cheeks when they saw the Son of God risen from the
dead on that Easter morning!  Jesus had suffered sadness unto the end
of His life so that you might have gladness unto the end of your life. 
For by His death for sin you have the forgiveness of sin.  On account
of His faithfulness unto death, the faithful have everlasting life. 
Your Creator has been pleased to recreate this broken world by his life
and death and resurrection, and has given to you, His beloved creation,
new life through your own resurrection from the dead!

Yes, you are already risen from the dead into eternal life!  The waters
of Baptism have been poured upon you from the waterpot to purify you. 
That washing by water and by the word of God has cleansed you of all of
your sin.  That transformed water has transformed you, empowering you
to live the life of the Son of God, in Whom the Father is well pleased,
and likewise is well pleased with all who have been baptized into
Christ.  He is well pleased to transform each day of your life, with
all of its temporary troubles, into a life of daily rejoicing in God’s
eternal salvation and all of its splendor.  As great as life’s
sadnesses are, even greater is the gladness that God has brought to you
forever through the waters of your Baptism!

And He leads you from the water to the wine.  He invites you to partake
of the new wine of the New Testament.  The very Blood that Jesus poured
out upon the cross for the world, He pours into the cup for you--for
the forgiveness of your sins, and the strengthening of your faith, and
for the renewing of your joy--and His joy--over your salvation and
eternal life with Him!

While you await that seventh and final day of eternal rest in Him,
continue to bathe yourself in your baptismal grace through the
continual remembrance of your Baptism in the water, and come often to
feast upon the wine and the bread through which He gives you His very
Body and Blood.  Through these means He enables you to follow the
advice that His apostle Paul speaks to Timothy, in the First Epistle to
Timothy, the 5th Chapter: “No longer drink only water, but use a little
wine” (1 Timothy 5:23).  No longer drink in only the sorrows that life
brings, for our lives surely are filled with sorrows.  Rather, believe
that your Savior transforms water into wine, your sorrow into joy, and
be filled to the brim with the joy and gladness that He brings, unto
the end of your life, and the beginning of the eternal marriage feast
of the Lamb in His kingdom.

For then *you* shall say to Him: “You have kept the good wine until
now!”

Amen.



Jeffrey A. Ahonen
Pastor
St. John's Lutheran Church
Ladysmith, Wisconsin

On the Third Day: The New Creation in Christ Jesus


  - the almighty and everlasting God has created
you for life with Himself  -  for joy in His presence

         - and He lavishes His gifts upon you for
your use and enjoyment (by grace through faith) -
to the glory of His holy Name (and for the
benefit of your neighbor) - all according to His Word


  - yet, the consequences of sin, including your
own sin (unbelief, disobedience,
self-centeredness), are that you come up short
and lacking and desperate (because your sin separates you from the Lord)

         - the curse of sin causes God's good
creation to wear out, to run down, and to die

- which is also what is happening to you and to
your body and life, as well (namely, that you are
wearing out, running down, and dying from the day that you are born)

         - in every aspect of your life - your
marriage, your job, your best laid plans - your
sin is there; your finite mortality groans under
burdens you cannot bear and expectations you
cannot meet; and the devil works with all his
might to drive you to despair (and other great shame and vice)

- and not only are you unable to save yourself
from this curse of sin and death; apart from the
Word and Spirit of God, you do not even know where or how to look for help


  - now, the blessed Virgin Mother has provided a
good example here (as also at the Annunciation),
in turning to Jesus and trusting His Word; so
does she give the best advice of all (the wisdom
of faith) in bidding the servants to hear and heed whatever Jesus might say

         - this is the right advice and a good
example for you, which you do well to follow in faith


  - but even though the real, underlying problem
is sin, you are prone to look to Jesus for help
with the symptoms, rather than for the cleansing
and healing that you need from the genuine disease (sin)

         - not as though the Lord were
unconcerned about your temporal needs - in grace
and mercy, indeed, He daily and richly provides
you with all that you need (and far more); and He
has taught you to pray for food and clothing,
house and home, spouse and children (because He
alone satisfies the desire of every living thing:
clothing the lilies, feeding the sparrows, and still taking care of you, too)

         - but all the wine in the world will not
make you happy  -  the best marriage in the world
will not provide you with eternal life  -  a
secure job and a solid home will not preserve you
forever  -  a reliable car will not get you to
heaven  -  and a comfortable bank account,
overflowing granaries, and a bevy of sound
investments will not serve you with the great wedding banquet that never ends

  - what you truly need - and what the Lord Jesus
Christ has come to provide - is Atonement for
your sin: at the cost of His own life, by the
shedding of His Blood (there is no other help or hope)

         - it is by His Cross, as your heavenly
Bridegroom, that He has given Himself for you, in
order then to sanctify and cleanse you by the
washing of water with His Word (in His Sacrament
of Holy Baptism) - the true purification, of both
body and soul, from all sin (in fulfillment of the Law)

         - it is from the Cross, from His riven
side, that His Blood and water flow to fill the
font and the chalice, for the forgiveness of all
your sins, unto life and salvation (with God in peace and joy)

- this holy, precious Blood of Christ is truly
the new and better wine, the good and best wine
of the new creation, of the heavenly promised land

- and He has called you to this Feast by His Word
of the Gospel, wherein He serves you with Himself

- and though, on the outside, you perceive
nothing remarkable, and you do not know where and
how it happens (except that it is by the Word of
Jesus), this Feast of Salvation - the Marriage
Feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom, which has no
end - provides you with the very thing you need
the most (which is, again, forgiveness)


  - bear in mind, and take to heart, that all of
this is by and from the Cross; and it remains
hidden under the Cross (this side of heaven)

         - indeed, the Cross of Christ is
paradoxically the Hour of His Glory, where the
Lord God is most clearly and fully manifested
(not by sight, but to the eyes of faith)

  - accordingly, you cannot measure the grace and
mercy, the goodness and blessing of God by how
well things are going in your temporal life on earth

         - prosperity and success are no
guarantee that you are on the right track, or
that you are right with God - remember that the
forbidden fruit was pleasing to the eyes and good
for food, and desirable to make you "wise" - do
not underestimate the devil's wiles and cunning
deception - and do not make of earthly goods your idol and false god

         - by the same token, suffering and
adversity and the weight of the Cross are no
indication that God has abandoned you, that He is
angry with you, or that He has forgotten you -
even when the wine ran out, Jesus was there (with
His Mother and His disciples, which is to say,
with His Church) - with or without the wine of
celebration here on earth, He has manifested His
Glory by the Cross for your salvation (forever!)

- rejoice if you are counted worthy to share the
Cross of suffering with your Lord; and do not
neglect to bear that Cross on behalf of your
neighbor in need (by your prayers and
intercessions, and by your sacrificial giving and service)
  - really, what it comes down to is that your
temporal circumstances - whether they be of
poverty or plenty - are not the criteria of Christian faith and life

         - rather, whatever your particular
circumstances, whatever your place in life, your
office and station (within the world, within your
family, within the congregation), simply "do
whatever He tells you," and live by faith in His Word

- does it seem futile or
foolish?  -  really?  -  is it more so than
filling six big jars with 20-30 gallons of water
apiece to make up for a lack of wine?

- trust the Word of Christ, leave it in His hands
to care for you, your family, and His Church, and
do what you are given to do (there is nothing else for it)


  - above all, trust His Word of the Gospel, His
Word of forgiveness:  "your sins are all
forgiven!" - He speaks this Word to you from His
Cross, and it reveals to you the open, loving
heart of God, your dear Father in heaven

                 - have you failed?  -  He
forgives you  -  have you fallen short?  -  He
fills you up  -  are you weak?  -  He has become
weak, in order to make you strong

                         - you are able to
delight in Him, because He delights in you (by His grace)

         - He will feed you and clothe you,
shelter and protect you, because He loves you,
and because He does not hold your sins against
you - for Jesus' sake, you are forgiven (as He speaks, so it is)

         - but more than all of this, He feeds
you - already here and now, as He will forever in
heaven - with Himself, His Life and His
Salvation; thus does He manifest His glory to you


                 In the Name   of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Vicar Paul F. Nus
Mount Olive Lutheran Church – Billings, Montana
Pastor Mark Grunst, Vicarage Supervisor
Sunday, January 12, 2007

Title: We Come, Lord Jesus, To You Our Host

"Come, Jesus of Nazareth, be our guest, and let this gift to us be
blest."  Some 2000 years ago in Galilee, that was a real invitation to
a real wedding feast. Cana, the hometown of a man named Nathaniel.
Jesus called him a true Israelite, an honest man in whom there's no
guile.  Yet Nathaniel was skeptical:  "Can anything good come from
Nazareth?" Three days later, Jesus answers his question. Our Gospel
text, John 2:1-11, tells how Jesus FIRST REVEALED HIS GLORY BY
CHANGING AN ABUNDANCE OF WATER INTO THE BEST WINE.

1) Jesus first revealed His glory as a guest at a wedding.  You've
been to weddings before.  Who's the center of attention?  The bride
and the groom, of course.  Yet John's account of this wedding in Cana
does not identify them.  Instead, he focuses upon Jesus, especially
when His mother approaches Him with a problem:  a crisis that
threatens to cut the celebrating short.

2nd) The one believing in Jesus expects Him to reveal His glory and to
act.  "They have no wine." Jesus' Mother recognizes the crisis, and
she brings the need to her Son. "Running on empty, running blind.
Running into the Son, but they're running behind." They're still
celebrating as the end draws near. Party on, dudes!  This world
continues heedless that its cheap wine is running out, but the Church
sees the looming shortage.

"Woman, what is that for Me and for you?,  He replies. My hour has not
yet come" (Jn 2:4).  We often misunderstand that answer as a "no"
because impatience corrupts our prayers. When the believing one cries:
"Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and your
truth always protect me" (Ps 40:11), she knows He hears. The need is
urgent, but she makes no demands, and imposes no timetable of her own.
She waits patiently, knowing that her Lord will act in His own time to
fulfill the need.

So Jesus' mother instructed the servants, "Do whatever He tells you"
(Jn 2:5).  These are the Church's instructions to you: "Whatever He
tells you to do, do it."  Whatever.  Young people today use that word
to express their indifference and apathy. Whatever.  It's a cynical
shrug of surrender to this world's approaching crash.  Whatever.
"Let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we'll die" (Is. 22:13).  Repent!
The "whatever" spoken by this Woman is the voice of the Church,
obedient in faith to "whatever" our Lord will do, waiting in eager
expectation for our Lord to act to fulfill our fervent desire and need
for His fullness and joy.  You don't know how He will meet your need,
but you know He will.  You don't know when He will act, but you know
He will.

3rd) One taste testified that the water had become very good wine.
Jesus approached the servants, who stood around six big empty jars,
set aside for purification rituals that only clean the outside.  Think
your religious actions will make you pure before God?  Your jars are
empty.  So Jesus instructs the servants, "Fill the jars with water."
What? "That's not what we asked for! We need wine, not water!  Just
like we thought, nothing good can come from Nazareth.  This Rabbi has
no interest in the drink that brings joy; he's calling on the bride
and the groom to wash themselves in the rite of purification that
precedes their conjugal union.  Looks like the party's over. So the
servants do what Jesus tells them:  they fill the jars to the brim.
Lots and lots of water – about 120 to 180 gallons.  Just water;
nothing else.  But something is happening that no one can see:  Jesus
is acting, doing what only God Himself can do. Above and beyond His
created laws of nature, He's transforming the substance of what we can
see into what we can taste, changing the water of outward ritual into
the best wine of inner joy.

"Draw some out now" (Jn 2:8).  Wait!  Is it wine yet?  When did it
happen?  How did it happen?  These are questions we ask yet today
about the Banquet that our Lord provides us here at this altar.  When
and how does bread become His Body, and wine become His blood?  I
can't tell you exactly.  I only know that He works through these
simple elements of water, wine and bread.  He speaks His own Word and
works through servants who listen to His voice and do what He tells
them to do.  "Take and eat … take and drink".  This IS something
different.  He has changed it by His Word, and He does more than
cleanse you on the outside:  He enters your soul. Through these simple
things His Word transforms you, filling your heart with life, peace
and joy.

"Take it to the Tablemaster" (Jn 2:8).  Here's where the miracle
that's already happened becomes a sign, convincing proof, evidence
that God Himself is here with us.  A sample is brought to the one man
at this banquet who really knows wine.  He's told nothing – no idea
where it came from.  All he does is taste it.  Not a word is
exchanged.  Do the servants know what's going to happen?  How could
they?  They obeyed the be-lieving one, and did just what Jesus told
them to do: "Whatever".  They hand the ladle to the Tablemaster.
Perhaps he looks at them – what's going on here?  He's puzzled, maybe
irritated – we're about to run out of wine here!  He takes the ladle,
looks at it, and his face takes on an expression of curiosity.
"Whatever." He draws the ladle to his lips, and it happens.  They
stand looking at him.  How can they know? "Whatever."  Now his face
lights up with astonished surprise, and then delight!  In the mouth of
that man, an explosion occurred – a symphony of joy, a glorious
masterpiece of flavor like nothing ever tasted on this earth before!
Wow!!  This stuff is amazing!  He takes another sip … drinks deeply …
and then licks out every last drop.  Whoo!  He closes his eyes,
savoring with a smile.  When he opens his eyes again, he says nothing
to the servants.  His face changes again from the peace and warmth of
that delicious richness to … perplexity again!  He's exasperated!
He's wondering: Where did this come from?

He already knows the answer – and so do you!  It's the Bridegroom.  So
the Tablemaster calls a poor confused man aside, and then rebukes him:
 "You've saved the best until now" (Jn 2:10). That's not what the
Tablemaster expected, you see.  In this world, things go downhill.
Things fall apart.  You grab the good stuff you can see, and start
with that.  When it runs out, you settle for what's left – the cheap
stuff.  You go from bad to worse.  But that's not the way God works.
Those who believe in Jesus look beyond the need and the gifts to the
Good Giver.  In His generosity, things get better and better.  The
best is yet to come, for our Bridegroom has already come.  Here today
we know that His hour has come.  Our Bridegroom provides for His Bride
that precious drink of rich celebration that shares and spreads His
joy in Her.

4th) Jesus revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
This wasn't just a miracle; it was a sign.  A miracle simply makes you
say "wow", but a sign points to something greater, beyond itself.
Jesus followed up this beginning sign at Cana with a second one, in
which He healed a dying boy in Capernaum.  Then in the seventh sign of
John's Gospel, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Same thing there
as at Cana:  an urgent cry for help, and Jesus seems to delay His
response.  He acts on His own time-table.  All these signs point to
LIFE coming out of death; they teach us to wait and de-pend upon our
anointed Savior, Jesus Himself.  "Indeed, then, many other signs Jesus
did in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this
book of the Gospel according to St. John, but these have been written
that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and
that believing, you may have life in His Name" (Jn 20: 30-31).  At
Cana, Jesus' "disciples put their faith in Him" (Jn 2:11).

These signs also point to the place of Jesus' glory, when His hour
finally came.  Jesus was glorified on the Cross when He died the death
you deserve.  In that hour the Father preserved His justice and
holiness by punishing His Son in your place.  Jesus absorbed His
Father's wrath so that you could stand before Him, purified and washed
clean in His Blood, wearing the spotless white garment of His Bride.
And here at Cana Jesus was glorified when His power and goodness were
tasted.  That transformation of water into wine manifested the glory
Jesus had with His Father before He spoke this world into existence.
When Jesus manifested His glory, He revealed Who He Is:  God of God,
Light of Light, Very God of Very God.  And so we "Ascribe to the Lord
the glory due His Name" (Ps 96:8).  Epiphany is the season when we
celebrate the revealing of Jesus to the Gentiles, the bright shining
light of His glory.  You'll believe it before you see it, and you'll
experience it before you understand it, or even realize what has
happened to you.  He acts in ways that are beyond our comprehension,
but He has acted to forgive your sins, and He is acting right here,
and right now. You are forgiven!

Indeed, He did save the best until now.  Here at this altar this
morning you'll taste His glory, the riches of His life for you, the
pleasures of His joy in redeeming you and cleansing your rotten heart
of every speck sin.  The best wine comes from the true Bridegroom.
And all who are joined to this Bridegroom in the waters of Holy
Baptism drink the wine of His purifying Blood here at this altar; they
trust in Him.  "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps 34:8).
He's purified you through water and Word, and now He feeds you with
the Bread of His everliving Body, and filled to the brim our cup of
blessing.  "The life … is in the Blood" (Lev 17:11,14).

"Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord" (Ps 40:3).
And just like Christ Himself, the Church will not hide His
righteousness in her heart; the Bride speaks of Her Bridegroom's
faithfulness and salvation (Ps 40:10).  "Great is His love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever" (Ps 117:2).  So we
"come Lord Jesus, to You our Host.  Fill our cups and our lives with
your own precious Life.  We are blessed in You, the Giver."  May the
peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and
minds through faith in our Bridegroom, Jesus of Nazareth, until He
bring us into that wedding feast of life everlasting with Him.  Amen.


----

i See ver. 29

z Isai. 55:1; See ch. 4:14

a See ch. 6:35

b [Isai. 12:3; Ezek. 47:1]

1 Or let him come to me, and let him who believes in me drink. As

c ch. 4:14; [Prov. 18:4]

d See ch. 4:10

[1]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 7:37). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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