Second Sunday after the Epiphany
We all have times in our lives when the “wine runs out.” And we are tempted to ask, Where in the world is God? What could he possibly be trying to show or teach me by such a hardship? When the Lord doesn’t answer on our terms we often get impatient, we are tempted to question his graciousness when we face sickness, financial problems or loss. Even when things are good, and we’ve got plenty of wine, so to speak. Do we always remember to thank our God? Or how often doesn’t the humdrum mundane rhythm of life often drown out our need for Jesus.
The truth is, no matter the situation God is always there and he’s using the good times, the bad times, the mundane, and even the things we don’t understand – for our eternal good. In every situation God wants to direct our attention to our Savior Jesus. He doesn’t leave us directionless in this, rather he gives us signs. This morning let’s ponder those signs have a God that turns water to wine, and wine into blood.
- Water into Wine
The part of God’s word for our meditation this morning begins with Jesus and his disciples being invited to this wedding feast in the backwater town of Cana. Now, Jewish weddings traditionally lasted for seven days. We don’t know which day of the feast they were on, but seemingly it was pretty early on in the celebration, since they were about to run out of wine and that was a serious problem.
Right away, we meet Mary, Jesus mother, and can you picture her? Running about as the hostess, making sure everything is just right. We can be fairly confidant that she had some kind of leadership role at this wedding because she’s commanding the servants and she’s also one of the first to notice that the wine is gone.
A happy wedding feast is about to end in shame. A wedding couple is about to begin their marriage on a sour note. A joyful moment is about to be overshadowed by the depression of having to send everyone home early. What should have been a day to celebrate new life is to be cut off prematurely. Nothing except a miracle could save it now.
And Mary turns to Jesus. She knew her son. She remembered all the things people told her, angels included, about the things that he would do. She knows that Jesus could do something about this situation! She knows that nothing, save a miracle could save the wedding feast, the reputation of the hosts, and perhaps her own reputation might be bolstered – She’s thinking, “where are you at Jesus!” – swoop in and save the day.
But what is Jesus response to his mother? 4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
Some might think this response of Jesus is harsh or even disrespectful. Jesus calling his mother “woman” is not a term of disrespect. In those days, one might address a queen in such a way. But that said, this is a rebuke none the less. By these words Jesus is saying, “Mom, I love you, but your maternal authority, does not extend over me and my call as Messiah, as savior – My hour has not yet come!
The hour has not yet come. That’s not a response that we like to hear when we our wine has ran out. When we are fervently praying and hoping that God would act. That’s not the response we want when we hear of the young couple on the verge of their 5th wedding anniversary – and they’re filing for divorce. That’s not the response we want when awaiting medical results and the fear is that the disease is terminal. This isn’t the response we want to hear when we want God to act on our terms, in a way that’s right now – in a way I can see and touch and smell.
Why does God permit hardship and pain in our lives? Ponder the Sign that John gives to Mary and the disciples at the wedding. This is his FIRST miracle and what does Jesus do? Does he act how we’d expect or how Mary expected? Does he move a mountain? Does he cause the sun, moon and stars to stand still? Does he calm a storm or raise the dead? Does he even stand up on a table and say, “Hey look what I can do!” No, at a wedding, in a humble house hold in back woods Cana population a few dozen people some sheep and some camels. And he quietly, almost secretly changes water into wine.
The Lord quietly reveals his Glory. Jesus is indeed with you, with us when we face the hardships of this world. When our cup is dry, when our wine is gone – when earthly pleasure is turned to pain or joy to sadness – he wants us to remember the quiet ways in which the Lord reveals his glory in our lives. It’s the reading of Psalm 23 at the death bed, reminding the person of the hope of heaven. It’s a Christian family that rallies around a person during and after a painful divorce, to remind them that “Here stands your Christian Family, who you’ll be with forever! Even when your earthly one has failed. It’s a sinner, who in time of doubt turns to the Lord and finds peace and a full cup of forgiveness for all their sins. The Lord will indeed graciously provide. Our Jesus speaks to us, in his word with the voice of the creator God. He reminds us that we can turn to him in every need. There is nothing beyond his care. Not even a little wedding, in backwater Cana where they ran out of wine.
- Wine into Blood
Such a seemingly simple thing for Jesus to provide wine for his first miracle. The first sign as John calls it. And make no mistake about it, Jesus provided abundantly. He answers the prayer for help from his Mother, he provides for the need of the wedding party. Don’t miss this bit either, Jesus here is providing the wedding gift for his disciples! They were poor fishermen who couldn’t afford to bring a good and appropriate gift to this wedding. Had they come ate and drank and had their fill, wouldn’t Jesus and his disciples have looked like freeloaders or wedding crashers? Yet, there were six stone water jars and six disciples present – one for each of them. Jesus provides the gift for them. And it’s not a cheap wedding gift. He provides the best wine, as the head of the banquet noticed. Two hundred and forty liters of wine, excellent wine, today would have a cash value upward of twenty thousand dollars.
Think of who Jesus and those six men are. They were the first New Testament Church! Those six men were the first who put their trust, their hope and their belief in Jesus as the Savior. And what does this miracle do for them? As John says in v. 11. What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
The first of the signs – that is to imply that many more would follow. And what do signs do? They give information. They point the way. Every time Jesus performs a miracle in John’s gospel, this is what John calls it, a “Sign.” Whether it’s raising the dead, feeding the five thousand, healing the sick, walking on water – they are all signs. Signs as John says later in his gospel, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing you may have life in his name!”
Those miracles do not come cheaply. Each and every one of them in their own way pointed to Jesus who would shed his blood on the cross for the sins of the world. And wouldn’t you know it, our gracious Lord still provides for his little church, a sign for us that points to our highest good. He gave to his Church the Lord’s Supper. Where body is in with and under the bread, and blood is in with and under the wine. That we might literally taste and see that our Lord is good. Jesus tells you, no matter the sin, have no doubt – I gave my body and my blood for you.
And this sign, Holy communion, the Lord’s Supper – it still comes to us in a quiet way. There’s no fan fare or thrill of a magic trick. It’s quiet and peaceful assurance grasped by faith. It’s just simple sign between sinner and Jesus. A reminder that the Lord is with us, that he provides for us, when we have plenty – or when our cup is almost empty. He is there when we have the strength to stand or kneel at the altar, and in the quiet moments when the number of breaths we take is in the single digits. Ponder the signs Jesus gives you the Lord who turned water into wine, is the same Lord that turns wine into blood. Amen.