Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sermon -- 2nd Sunday after Epiphany (January 17, 2015)

JOHN 2:1-11


In the name + of Jesus.

     This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. (John 2:11)  Jesus had been invited with his mother and with his disciples to rejoice at the union of a groom and his bride.  It was a time of great joy and celebration.  In our day, a marriage feast lasts for a few hours.  The marriage feast Jesus attended could have lasted up to a week.  During that week, the groom would provide food and drink for all of his guests.
     During that week in Cana, they ran out of wine.  No wine means no feast.  It means that the guests get sent home early, some of them disgusted, all of them disappointed.  The groom would have been greatly ashamed for failing to provide what was needed.  Meanwhile, the mother of Jesus recognized the problem, and she knew the one who could provide a solution.  Mary came to Jesus with her petition.  It was an implied prayer, for Mary did not tell Jesus what to do.  She merely told Jesus the problem: “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)  Jesus was not being rude to his mother.  He was simply letting her know that it was not his time now.  In John's Gospel, Jesus' hour always has to do with his death.  It was not about alleviating the embarrassment of a young couple.  If that's all this was about, Jesus could have told everyone, “Quick, everyone, run home and grab a bottle of something and bring it back.”  That would have solved the problem and could have demonstrated the love of the community for each other.  But that is not why St. John records this.  The height and depth of Jesus' glory would be revealed by his death.  At Cana's wedding banquet, Jesus showed that he would supply a greater banquet.  Mary believed that Jesus would be merciful and would supply what was lacking.  So she said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:4)
     It apparently did not take long for Jesus to act.  He told the servants to fill the stone jars with water.  The guests had all purified themselves, so the water jars were empty.  The servants filled them to the brim, and from that water Jesus supplied what was best.  Jesus said to them,“Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.”  So they took it.  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 2:8-10)  Jesus supplies what is best.
     This is what Jesus always does.  He always supplies what is lacking and he supplies it with what is best.  What is lacking in us is righteousness.  To be clear, this is not a matter of us being pretty good people, but not as good as God demands.  You are either righteous or you are not.  At Cana, they were not running out of wine or down to the cheap stuff.  They were out.  There was none.  And so it is with our righteousness.  We have none.  God has commanded us to be holy as he is holy.  It is still what he expects us to live up to every day.  But we prove ourselves to be lacking in this righteousness every day.  The blemishes of sin are on us.  We are like the hapless groom at the wedding at Cana.  We know what our responsibilities are.  We may have been put forth a decent effort to meet our responsibilities.  But, to our shame, we have come up short.  We have not served our neighbors as we ought.  We have not even loved our loved ones as we ought.  We are quick to find fault and slow to forgive.  Love covers over a multitude of sins, but we demonstrate our perverse pride by highlighting others' faults rather than graciously overlooking them or forgiving them.  These are the signs of hearts that do not have the righteousness God demands.  No wine in Cana meant no feast.  No righteousness in us means no peace with God, and no place at the heavenly feast.  Repent.
     But Jesus supplies what is lacking.  Jesus supplies what is best.  It is clear that the shortage of wine was not Jesus' problem.  Neither was Jesus obligated to fix the problem.  But Jesus demonstrated his amazing mercy in supplying what was best.  In fact, Jesus' miracle atoned for the groom's failings.  The master of the banquet pulled the groom aside and asked him why he had saved the best wine for later.  The groom was credited for something he did not do.
     Jesus does the same for you and me.  We are not righteous, but Jesus supplies what is lacking.  Jesus supplies what is best.  He supplied the perfect, obedient life that God demands of us.  His perfect love was evident in everything he did.  But Jesus credits us for his perfect life.  He has purified us in waters of baptism, cleansing us of every blemish of sin.  In baptism, Jesus has clothed us in garments of salvation.  Heaven is the wedding feast of the Lamb, and the Lord Jesus has clothed us in those wedding garments so that we will feast with him at that wedding banquet forever.  The Lord does not see us as people who fail, falter, or fall short.  He sees us as beautiful and blameless and without blemish.  Jesus supplies what is best.
    St. John wrote about Jesus' changing water into wine, “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)  Though Jesus revealed his glory, for the most part it went unnoticed.  The groom did not know where the wine had come from.  The master of the banquet did not know where the wine had come from.  The guests might not even have known they had run out.  The only ones who truly knew that a miracle had taken place were the servants.  The servants only did what Jesus had told them.  They took the water which Jesus had blessed, they went at Jesus' command, and they gave what was best to the people at the feast.
     Jesus still does the same today.  And again, Jesus' glory is practically unnoticed in what he gives to us.  We have set aside bread and wine for a sacred purpose. Jesus' words will be added to them.  His servant will distribute them according to Jesus' command, and the guests at the feast will receive what is best.  Here you will find Jesus revealing his glory to you.  For the Bible assures us, “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)  Jesus' death is the hour in which he truly revealed his glory; for, that is where he has made the payment for all our sins.  He does not merely alleviate embarrassment; Jesus covers over a multitude of sins with his holy blood.  Here, what Jesus gave into death to pay for our sins, he gives us to feast on for the forgiveness of our sins.  This is the feast that will sustain you until the Lord brings you into the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb.  Even though you and I do not have the righteousness we need, Jesus supplies us with what we are lacking.  Jesus supplies what is best.
     “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.” (John 2:11)  It began at a wedding feast, and it will culminate at a wedding feast.    At the wedding feast of the Lamb, we will see Jesus in all his glory, and we will feast with him forever.  Until then, we come to the altar for the feast which he already supplies on earth.  This is where we partake of Jesus' glory.  This is where we receive his best gifts.

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

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