Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sermon -- 2nd Sunday after Epiphany (January 20, 2019)

JOHN 2:1-11


In the name + of Jesus.

     When God created heaven and earth, he also put man and woman into that world.  He brought them to one another and blessed them as husband and wife, establishing marriage for the good of each other, for the benefit of children, and for the stability of society.  Just as God blessed Adam and Eve with a perfect creation, so he also blessed them with the gift of marriage.
     However, God's creation did not remain perfect for very long.  Sin entered the world and corrupted everything.  Most personally, it corrupted mankind.  Now we are familiar with selfishness, ingratitude, and bitterness.  Nevertheless, God remains good.  He still blesses mankind with his creation.  And he still calls marriage good.  By it, he intends to bless husbands and wives who are given as gifts to one another.
     But marriage is hard.  Two sinners bind themselves to one another, and each has to put in the work if they want to have a good marriage.  If God blesses them with children, the parents discover that raising children is hard.  Children are a blessing and a joy, but they take work.  And if God has chosen not to bless you with a spouse or with children, you still discover that life is hard.  No matter what stage of life you are in, life is hard.  We are sinners, living among other sinners, in a sinful world.  God still continues to bless us in this world, but we struggle to be grateful or content.  We face problems, stress, and disappointment.  We are lacking the perfection that God had first created people with.  And because we are lacking righteousness, we are also short on patience, gratitude, and a love that only seeks the good of others.  The problem is neither with God nor with marriage, but with us.  For, we are sinners.
     Our Lord Jesus Christ attended a wedding at Cana because marriage is good.  Unfortunately, the wedding had hit a snag.  They ran out of wine.  Wedding feasts back in Jesus' day could run for up to a week, and during that week the groom was supposed to provide for his guests.  If the wine ran out, the joyous occasion was over and the feast came to an embarrassing, disappointing halt.  When Jesus' mother recognized the problem, she gave Jesus a less than subtle nudge.  She 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)  Jesus' response was polite, but stern.  His kingdom would come and his glory would be revealed at the right hour.  This was not it.
     Nevertheless, Jesus did demonstrate compassion for the wedding couple.  He revealed his divine power by supplying what was lacking.  He told the servants to fill the stone water jars with water.  Then, by his command (although St. John does not quote Jesus' words here), the water became wine.  This was hardly a sleight of hand trick.  Each of the six stone jars held 20-30 gallons.  The miracle was undeniable.  God was at work, and our Lord supplied what was lacking so that the feast and the joy of the day could continue.
     St. John noted, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.” (John 2:11)  It was not only the first miracle Jesus performed, showing himself to be God; it was also the primary sign to show us what kind of Lord Jesus is.  He takes the ceremonies for outward purification and changes them into something better.  Jesus brings a new and better kingdom than the old one.  It is not based on the waters which scrub dirt or germs from the body, but it is based on the new wine which makes glad the hearts of men.  The Lord Jesus supplies what is lacking. 
     Jesus is the bridegroom, and the Church is his bride.  He has come to betroth himself to us—not because we are worthy, or pure, or even pretty.  He does not pretend that we are perfect.  He does not flatter us with lies or ignore what we have been.  Instead, the Lord Jesus supplies what is lacking in us.  As our loving bridegroom, “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)  Through baptism, Jesus has removed from you every blotch of shame and wiped away every spot of sin.  He has covered you in his own righteousness so that you now stand before him pure and blameless.  Now, you are robed in beauty; for the Groom has dressed his Bride with his own innocence.  The Lord Jesus supplies what is lacking.
     When Jesus betrothed himself to you, he not only gave to you all that is his, he also took from you all is yours.  He assumed your debt, all that is lacking before God, and took the responsibility for it.  He made your guilt his own.  And then, when his hour had come for establishing his kingdom and revealing his glory, Jesus did not perform a miraculous sign.  Rather, he died in humble weakness.  Jesus subjected himself to God's curse on behalf of sinners when he hung from the cross.  And there, Jesus made the full payment for your sins.  A debt that you and I could not even begin to repay, Jesus paid in full.  The Lord Jesus supplies all that is lacking.
     On a joyous wedding day at Cana, Jesus provided all that was lacking at the wedding feast.  He was not stingy with his blessing.  It did not matter that the groom had been careless or negligent in his planning.  It did not even matter that the guests had abused the wine that had already been supplied.  Jesus acted to make sure that the joyous feast would continue.  He supplied what was lacking in quality and in quantity.  Jesus did not do a guest count and crunch numbers so that no a drop would go to waste.  He supplied the best wine in great abundance for the benefit of the wedding couple and for the joy of their celebration.
     In the same way, Jesus is not stingy with you, either.  You and I have been baptized into Jesus' name, which means that we have been cleansed of all sin, made pure before the Lord, and now bear the name of our Triune God.  We even remind ourselves of our precious status when we make the sign of the cross upon ourselves.  And yet, we do not live up to the honor of the name we bear.  Whether it is because we are careless or lazy, or because we are worn down by difficulties, disappointments, or the deception of our sins, we do not keep ourselves as pure as we ought. 
     But the Bridegroom still loves his Bride.  He continues to supply what is lacking.  He does not put a quota on his forgiveness or warn you that you are about to exceed your limit.  He pours out his mercies by the gallon.  He continues to present you with his sacred feast.  He serves you the better wine under which he gives you his holy blood for the forgiveness of your sins.  And the feast does not run out.  It is offered every week so that your joy will continue, and it will even endure through all eternity.  Jesus supplies what is lacking because your salvation is not based on how pure you have been or on how pure you can keep yourself.  It is based on Jesus' holy innocence with which he covers you.  And it is based on the righteous blood which he shed as the payment to pay off your debts.  He is not cheap with his grace or stingy with his mercy.  Rather, his mercy endures forever.  His grace supplies everything.
     The Lord Jesus continues to pour out his blessings upon you.  You will find peace and joy and contentment only in him.  And he will never fail you.  Even in a world of sin among a world of sinners, Jesus continues to bless you.  The Bridegroom loves his Bride and speaks tenderly to her.  The Church, who desires her Groom, is eager to listen to him and receive his good things. 
     The Lord Jesus supplies all that is lacking.  He and his blessings are yours.  Having been redeemed, you are his.  And he will finally bring you into the eternal wedding banquet where the peace will never be interrupted, where the joy will never run out, and where the feast will never end. 

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

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