Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sermon -- 2nd Sunday after Epiphany (January 18, 2013)

JOHN 2:1-11
JESUS MANIFESTED HIS GLORY.

In the name + of Jesus.

     At the very end of the Gospel of St. John, he wrote, “Now there are also many other things Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)  The gospel writers spoke of any number of miraculous signs that Jesus had done throughout his ministry.  Today, we focus on the first one.
     When we consider the many, amazing miracles that Jesus had performed, we might wonder, why was the changing of water into wine the first one?  Why did Jesus do his first miracle at a wedding?  Why not cast out a demon first?  Why not go to the temple and give sight to the blind or make a lame man walk?  Why not raise the dead?  Signs such as those would have been much more magnificent.  They would have gotten more people talking.  But that’s not what Jesus chose.  He chose a wedding.  He chose a small, out-of-the-way village in Galilee.  He chose what was common.  But it was there that Jesus first manifested his glory.
     The bride and groom in Cana apparently knew Mary and Jesus and his disciples, for they were all invited to the feast.  The wedding feast was a joyous occasion.  The bride and groom had spent up to a year preparing for this day from the day they got betrothed.  The groom went in a procession to receive his bride from her house and then brought her and her family back to his house.  Family and friends gathered to celebrate for up to a week.  The groom provided for the wedding feast so that everyone could celebrate the joining together of the groom and his bride.
     But the feast was about to come to a sudden and embarrassing halt.  The groom had not prepared enough for his guests.  They had run out of wine for the feast.  And if there was no wine, there was no feast.  What was to be a grand celebration was about to become a big disappointment.  Instead of going home joyful, the guests would have to be dismissed early and feeling empty or insulted.
     Jesus’ mother recognized the problem.  When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?  My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:3-4)  Mary is to be commended for taking the concerns to Jesus.  She did not tell him what to do, but simply reported the problem.  She was confident that Jesus would act and that the feast would continue.  Even when it seemed that Jesus rebuked her, Mary’s confidence in Jesus’ compassion did not waver.  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)  Mary was certain that Jesus would do something.  But she would let Jesus act when he was pleased to do so.
     Here is a lesson for you in your prayers.  Often, we use our prayers to dictate to God what needs to be done.  We know our problems and we know that we want them fixed … NOW!  We do not want to let the Lord act as our Savior, but as our servant.  Be careful how you pray.  Lay your concerns, not your commands, before the Lord.  Then honor God by letting him act and deliver you when he will and how he will.  And trust that he will do what is best.
     At the wedding in Cana, Jesus did act.  He had compassion on the groom and his bride.  He would make sure that the joy and the wedding feast would continue.  He called the servants to fill six stone water jars with water.  And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.”  So they took it.  …The master of the feast tasted the water now become wine…. (John 2:8-9)   Jesus supplied the feast with gallons upon gallons of wine.  He not only supplied in abundance; he supplied the best!  This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. (John 2:11)
     Jesus manifested not only his glory, but also his grace.  He spared the groom and the bride the embarrassment of sending their guests home early.  His gracious gift allowed the celebration to go on.  And yet, the question remains: Why was Jesus’ changing of water into wine his first miracle? 
     The miracle of Jesus serves as a sign.  By it, Jesus manifests his glory.  He shows that he is true God.  But there is more.  His first miracle at a wedding is no coincidence.  God the Son came into this world to restore all things.  Jesus came as a bridegroom to receive his bride, the Church, and to take the bride to his home for an everlasting feast, a joyous wedding banquet.
     But you know how quickly joy can get soured.  Think of the blessings that God intends for a man and a woman in marriage.  Two people are completely committed to each other.  They are not merely two people who share a house, chores, and bills.  God unites a man and a woman into one.  That is what God blesses, as each seeks to serve and to exalt the other.  They get to laugh and cry together, to strengthen and uphold each other.  And yet, the man and the woman do not always find that joy.  It is made bitter because you have selfish expectations your spouse has no chance to fulfill.  It is soured by laziness which feels that serving one’s spouse is too much to ask.  It is ruined by gazing at someone else’s mate, wondering how many other options are out there supposedly better than the one to whom you swore to be faithful.  Sin sours the joy, both the sins committed against you and the sins you commit.  Do not blame someone else.  Repent!
     Jesus came to a wedding to celebrate what God had established.  And when the feast was about to end, Jesus manifested his glory and provided the wine so that the joy would not be soured.  More than that, Jesus came to establish a bond with his Church.  He has come to restore your joy, to redeem you from your unfaithfulness, and to cover all your shame.  This is what the Lord says: Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27) 
     Jesus manifested his glory by laying down his life for you.  He paid the dowry price for you in the blood he spilled at Mount Calvary.  There, he died for you to atone for all your sins.  There, he made you his own.  He manifested his glory when he rose from the dead, showing you that life does not end in a grave.  Rather, he will raise you up to take your place at the wedding feast of the Lamb.  In that feast, the celebration will be without end.  The Lord’s mercy and compassion will never run out.  You will never be sent away or left feeling empty or disappointed.  For, he has come to restore all things.  He has come to make everything right. 
     Until that day, the Lord comes to you again in this feast from his altar.  This is the feast of heaven, though it is only for a moment.  Here is your Savior’s body and blood.  Here is the forgiveness of your sins.  Here, the Lord takes away your shame and covers every blemish on his Bride.  Here, Jesus manifests his glory as the Groom who always loves you, forgives you, and is pleased to gaze upon his Church, his beloved Bride.  With Jesus, the joy will never grow sour.  The celebration and the feast will never end.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

2 comments:

  1. "Be careful how you pray. Lay your concerns, not your commands, before the Lord. Then honor God by letting him act and deliver you when he will and how he will. And trust that he will do what is best."

    great sermon, I really enjoyed this part of the message. A good reminder to be 'patient' in prayer.

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  2. Thanks, Kendra!

    And I have learned from experience that it is a lot easier to repeat what Scripture encourages us to do than to actually do it. I need these reminders too!

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