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The best for last

John 2:1-11

Pastor David Ernst

Third Sunday of Epiphany
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Jan 23, 2022 

Happy Epiphany!

This is the only wedding feast that the gospel writers tell us Jesus attended, but it was the occasion of his first miracle after he began his public ministry.

This marriage took place in Cana, a small town 15 kilometers north or northeast of Nazareth, on the way to the Sea of Galilee. Today it is called Khirbet Kana, it is distinguished from another Cana, located in Judea. In the first chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John we witness the calling of the first five disciples of Jesus: Andreś, Simon Peter, John, Philip and Nathanael. This Cana was Nathanael's home town. There were at least five men in Jesus' company at this time. Also, Mary, the mother of Jesus, who seems to have been a very close friend of the family, if not a relative. Joseph is not mentioned, as Joseph probably died some time before Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River.

Mary had not forgotten the sayings and prophecies about her son. When the wine supply ran out, she stated that fact to him: There is no wine. Her words implied that she was looking to Him for advice and practical help. Jesus' words to Mary are the first recorded words addressed to her mother after her baptism. Her speech is one of respect, because the word "woman" was used to address queens and distinguished people. But her words are those of a formal rebuke. He had already begun the work of his office, and Mary must understand from the beginning that she is not his mother in matters related to her calling. The manifestation of her power was entirely in her own hands, no matter how, how and when he decided to help. Maria was not upset by the rebuke, but she was not discouraged. She approached the servants near the entrance, who were now serving tables, and told them to do as the Lord told them.

This miracle that Jesus did tells us that the purification water used by the Jews in their ceremonies will be replaced by the water of baptism, also, the wine points us to the blood of Christ shed on the cross and not offered in the Holy Supper.

Jesus' action on this occasion is absolutely at variance with the claims of false temperance. The gospel according to Saint John was written against a false concept of spirituality, in which the saints are those who deny the body and reject marriage and other blessings of this life. Saint John began his gospel with the declaration that the Word who was in the beginning with God and was God was made flesh and dwelt among us as the Son of Man. To disparage the human body is to deny the doctrines of creation and the incarnation.

The Scriptures do not condemn wine and other alcoholic beverages per se, but drunkenness. To be drunk is to be exposed to the temptation of many forms of immorality. However, many times the Bible speaks of the harvest of grapes and the fruit of the vine as a blessing, eg, our Old Testament reading for today (Amos 9:11-15). Jesus' first miracle was evidence of his almighty power, but also incidentally of his love. There was absolutely no need for the guests to have wine, especially since some had already been served. However, it was an unpleasant situation, and Jesus was happy to help them out of the difficulty.

The presence of Christ, with his mother and his disciples, at a wedding feast, and the fact that he performs his first miracle there, is a recognition of marriage as honorable and holy. Marriage is a divine institution, and it is pleasing to the Lord; it is entirely according to his design and will that people enter this sacred state in a proper manner and with a full understanding of their rights and privileges as well as their duties.

Nowadays, many couples prefer to live together instead of getting married, in short-term affective relationships without much commitment or sacrifice. But, the Scriptures teach us that God instituted marriage in the beginning as a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. Sex is not a private arrangement, but a state ordained by God. Children are also blessings from God, for He blessed the first marriage between Adam and Eve with the words, "Be fruitful and multiply." And family life requires a lot of commitment, a lot of patience and a lot of prayer. He wants to increase in us the faith in God that we need to live as a couple and, at the same time, make sure that we are capable of assuming the responsibilities of marriage.

Parents are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and in no way prevent them from serving God, going to church, and making themselves available to the Lord. The children, for their part, will be guided by love to obey and respect their parents.

That is one of the purposes of miracles, of signs of divine glory, to strengthen faith. We must believe in the Word of the Lord and allow this faith to be strengthened also by the account of Christ's miracles. Knowing that Jesus did so many wonders in the days of his earthly pilgrimage, we are sure that he is also capable of performing that miracle of leading us to faith and keeping us in faith until the end, in addition to having all the powers of the earth serve, whether by the laws of nature or not.

St. Paul says in our epistle (Romans 12:6-16), "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who mourn." True love for one's neighbor consists not only in words, but in sincere deeds; it must come from the heart and truly desire the well-being of others. It is a trait of such true love that it will not hesitate to rebuke every form of sin and transgression, and likewise to recognize and promote the good that it finds in others.

In Holy Supper we consecrate the wine, the true wine, according to the Lord's command. And as the Lord blessed this wedding at Cana by his presence, we ask God's blessing for every Christian marriage. And we remember that the vision of the celebration of Christ and the church of him in the book of Revelation is like a heavenly wedding.

The wedding wine, like all the material blessings we receive in life, may run short. They can satisfy our physical needs and gladden our hearts for a while. But, all earthly blessings, even marriage, will come to an end. But, as the maestresala says, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when they have drunk a lot, then the one that is inferior, but you have kept the good wine until now."

The steward's joke contains a deeper truth: The best of the blessings of this life is eternal life in Jesus Christ. What Jesus gave to the wedding guests at Cana is not the fullness of his saving work, but a sign of that work. The hour that Jesus spoke of was the hour of his death and resurrection on the cross, and for us the hour that our Lord comes in glory.

In this vision, we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.





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