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Second Sunday after the Epiphany

John 2:1–11

James T. Batchelor

Epiphany 2, series C
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Jan 17, 2016 

Once again we heard a very familiar reading from the Gospel according to St. John Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana in Galilee.  Jesus, His mother, and His disciples had an invitation to this wedding and they came to help the couple celebrate the beginning of their life together as husband and wife.

Weddings in that culture were major celebrations that often lasted an entire week.  The host of the wedding, usually the groom or the grooms family, supplied food and drink for the guests.  Running out of food or drink was a major embarrassment.

Mary noticed that the family had run out of wine.  We dont really know how Mary became aware of this, but she told Jesus about it.  The context indicates that Mary hoped Jesus would deal with the problem, but that she would let Him work out the details.  Marys request does not indicate that Mary even expected a miracle of any kind.

Mary must have been helping with the wedding because after she left Jesus she said to the servants, Do whatever he tells you. (John 2:5, ESV) Here Mary is an example of faith.  She had no idea what Jesus was about to do, but whatever it was, she trusted it to be the right thing.  By the way, this is the last direct quotation from Mary in the Bible and they are words that all people should heed. 

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, Fill the jars with water. And they filled them up to the brim. (John 2:67, ESV) Notice that this is somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons of water.  Keep in mind that the servants had to draw the water from a well by hand.  This is a lot of work.

Then Jesus said to them, Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast. So they took it. (John 2:8, ESV) Note that Jesus did not tell the servants that the water had become wine.  He simply instructed them to take some to the master of the feast.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now. (John 2:910, ESV) Somewhere in the process of filling the jars and taking a sample of the water to the master of the feast, the water became wine.  It wasnt just any wine either.  The master of the feast was surprised that the groom had waited so long to serve the good wine.

Okay Jesus has made a nice gesture to help some friends avoid an embarrassing situation.  So what?  Why did the Holy Spirit inspire John to include this event in His account of the Gospel?  Its a nice story and all.  Its kind of fun to listen to.  But, in the grand scheme of eternity, why is it important?

Well, scripture interprets scripture.  John himself tells us of the goal of his Gospel at the end of chapter 20.  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:3031, ESV) Here John reveals the objective of the signs in his account of the Gospel.  The signs are there in order to make the case that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  For John knows that faith in Jesus receives eternal life.

The Holy Spirit inspired John to make the point that all of Jesus signs point to Jesus as the anointed one, the Son of God.  He is the anointed one who takes away the sin of the world.  He is the anointed One who takes our sin to the cross and endures the punishment our sins deserve.  He is the anointed One who will give us the greatest sign the sign of the empty tomb of our risen Savior.

The Holy Spirit inspired John to begin the trail of signs pointing to Jesus with the sign of Jesus changing the water into wine.  John himself tells us that this is the point of this account at the end of todays reading from the Gospel.  He wrote, This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11, ESV)

John wants us to understand that this miracle is not just a gesture to help some friends avoid an embarrassing situation.  John informs us that this was Jesus first sign the first certification that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  These signs point to the spiritual truth of the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One who took on our flesh, lived among us, and experienced everything that we experience.  They reveal Jesus, who, while fully human and like us in every way, except without sin, is also fully God. These miracles are signs that reveal Jesus for who he really is, namely, the Word made flesh, who created all things and who upholds all things in himself.  They reveal the glory of the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ.  This sign is the first of a trail of signs that will lead to the ultimate sign of the empty tomb of the risen Lord.

Jesus has not only chosen to reveal Himself to those first disciples using signs, but He has also chosen to reveal Himself to us and to come to us, in signs in which his Word resides.  Jesus has chosen to reveal Himself in the signs of the proclaimed word, the word combined with water in Holy Baptism, and the word combined with bread and wine in the Holy Meal.  He has given these signs to us as gifts.  In these miracles, he is revealed to us.  In the Sacraments, Jesus, who revealed at Cana that he is Lord of the elements, continues to reveal himself as Lord over all creation.

In the waters of Baptism, Jesus makes us his own.  By His suffering and death on the cross, He has earned the forgiveness of sins.  Then by His promise and command, He joins that forgiveness to ordinary water.  By His promise and command, baptism delivers the forgiveness of sins from the cross to you.  For it is written, Baptism . . . now saves you (1 Pet 3:21). Baptism is a washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). Baptism is a re-creation.  We were dead in sin, but Baptism re-creates us in newness of life in Christ Jesus.

In the same manner, the Lords Supper is a sign of our redemption in Jesus Christ.  Is it not written that the blood of Jesus cleanses you from sin (see 1 John 1:7)?  The miracle of Jesus true body and true blood under the elements of bread and wine reveals the mystery of our salvation in a blessed and holy sacramental union with Jesus.  Jesus gives His body and His blood into our mouths and so grants us the forgiveness of sins one mouth at a time.

Dylan, this morning, we celebrate the fact that you are a baptized child of God and His baptism has given you the blessings that Jesus promises in baptism: forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.  On this day we recognize that, through instruction in the faith, you are able to properly examine yourself so that you may receive the body and blood of Jesus for your good, and not for your harm.  Although no one can understand how Jesus joins Himself to the bread and the wine, you trust His promises the promise that as you eat the bread, you receive His body broken for you the promise that as you drink the wine, you receive His blood shed for you the promise that His body and blood give you forgiveness, life, and salvation.  You believe the promise that this body and blood will strengthen you in both body and soul until the day comes when you will meet the one who turned water into wine, and you shall see Him face-to face.

At the wedding celebration in Cana, our Lord revealed who he is, to servants, disciples, to us and to the world.  In this, the first of his signs, Jesus points us to the restoration of creation that he would accomplish on the great third day, Easter morning.  Through his first miracle, indeed, through all his miracles, Jesus manifested his glory and revealed to us a foretaste of what was to come: the restoration of our life in our God as it is meant to be.

Jesus has given signs to us.  At Cana, at Calvary, at the empty tomb, in the font, and on the altar, Jesus gives us signs of his glory.  In the font, and on the altar, our Lord has given us signs of the renewed creation won for us on the cross at Calvary.  Here Jesus reveals that his life and death are ours.  Jesus reveals that his body was given for us and his blood was shed for us for the remission of our sins.  Jesus reveals to us his glory, the glory of his death for our righteousness.  This Divine Service is His wedding party given for us.  He is the groom, the wine steward, and the wine.  We are the bride and the honored guest.

Jesus has given all these signs to us so that we may believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and that we might have life by believing in His name.  Amen

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