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4501 Waller Rd E
Tacoma, Washington
INI
Second Sunday after Epiphany
January 17, 2016
Ascension Lutheran Church, Tacoma WA
Paul Naumann, Pastor

THE WEDDING AT CANA
John 2:1-11

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.. Our text for today comes from the second chapter of St. John's Gospel, beginning with the first verse, as follows:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." 4 Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." 6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the f east called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!" 11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. This is the Word of God.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, Dear Fellow Redeemed,

In vino veritas is an old Latin epigram meaning, "In wine is truth." We know that overindulgence of wine tends to make people speak more freely and express their opinions without holding back. But does it produce truth? Some people think so. It is said that Julius Caesar, when consulting his generals, would refuse to make any important decision until they had all had plenty to drink. He hoped wine would bring truth…and success.

It seems strange to think of wine as producing a beneficial result. Alcoholism is so pervasive and destructive in our society that it's hard to think of alcoholic beverages in anything but a negative way. But our text for today centers around an episode where wine served a beneficial and saving purpose - as a miraculous sign that clearly identified Jesus as the glorious Son of God. Perhaps you've lost sight, recently, of the glory of your Savior Jesus. Maybe you just haven't thought about it much. If so, our text for today will snap you back to reality. It will focus your mind on the meaning of that glorious sign, and show you how you can capitalize on it in your everyday life. That's why our theme this morning is,

THE WEDDING AT CANA
It Manifested Christ's Glory…
I. At just the right time
II. In abundant measure
III. In order to produce faith

The scene in our text is pretty straightforward. It depicts a crisis, albeit a minor domestic one. A wedding celebration was going on in the small Galilean town of Cana. Jesus mother Mary was there, and Jesus himself had been invited, along with the six disciples he had gathered to that point. But something had gone wrong. A miscalculation was made. Or perhaps, when Jesus and his disciples showed up, it was just a few more people than the planners of the wedding had anticipated. In any case, the celebration was about to be ruined because the wine had run out.

Maybe one shouldn't call that a "minor" crisis. My guess is that nearly every adult here today has helped prepare food for a wedding at one time or another. What's your biggest anxiety it's such a time? That there won't be enough! At our own wedding, the servers became nearly frantic when it appeared that there might not be enough food for all the guests. As it turned out, the last person in line got the last ham sandwich. So the Lord blessed us that day. But at Cana He provided a much greater blessing, and one which held a deep, spiritual lesson. For at Cana, a great sign was given, manifesting Christ's glory. And He manifested it at just the right time.

When they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." Mary knew about her Son. She remembered the word of the angel who had told her that He would be the Savior of the world. From His infancy Mary had kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. And now it was Mary's judgment that the time was right for Jesus to manifest his glory. She thought she knew the right time. But Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

How often don't we do the same thing, and how presumptuous that is when you think about it! To tell God not only what we think ought to be done, but to give him our timetable as to when we think it ought to take place. But our Savior knows just the right time for all things. Likewise in our lives, he manifests His glory according to his own timetable, according to his perfect knowledge of what is best for us in our lives. That's why the psalmist says, Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! -- Ps 27:14.

Jesus had a gentle rebuke for Mary. But even in the rebuke there was hidden a promise: my hour has not yet come, he said. Not yet, but it will! And He makes the same promise to you today. "I will answer your prayers. I will manifest My glory in your life. Just have faith in Me." And the words of Mary to the servants are interesting: but his mother said to the servants, "Whatever he says to you, do it." One writer remarked how happy we'd all be if we would simply follow those instructions: Whatever Jesus says to you, do it!"

I'd like to pause here for a moment and touch briefly on two issues. Two things which are not part of our main focus this morning, but which can hardly be avoided when discussing the wedding at Cana. This account gives the lie to those religions throughout the ages who have placed a false emphasis on asceticism and celibacy. One the one hand are those who teach it is a better Christian life when one avoids all pleasure and celebration - particularly condemning the use of wine or any alcoholic drink. On the other hand are those, chiefly the Roman Catholics, who forbid certain people to marry and say that celibacy is a state that's superior to marriage. Both represent false teaching and false piety. Neither has any foundation in Scripture. Both are refuted by this morning's text.

Here at Cana we see Jesus hallowing with his presence the holy estate of marriage. Here is the one who commanded that a man and a woman shall leave father and mother and become one flesh together, who commanded sternly that what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Here as elsewhere we see Jesus entering with joy into the festive celebration of family life, not only using wine Himself but giving wine as a gift. Indeed, when selecting an analogy for the joys of God's kingdom, Jesus chose the picture of a festive wedding celebration. How misguided it is to condemn the joy and gladness of such innocent celebrations as this, much less to suggest that marriage itself is somehow inferior to celibacy. May God preserve us from these abuses of His word!

Here, at the Wedding at Cana, Jesus manifested His glory. He did it at just the right time, and something else is clear: He did it in abundant measure. Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." How silly it must all have seemed to the servants! Perhaps they snickered at the young Rabbi who seemed to be playing a game of make-believe, pretending that water was wine! Jesus' command must have sounded as absurd as Moses' command to the Children of Israel, that they march into the Red Sea, or when Jesus said to the paralytic, "take up your bed and walk!" -But the servants did as Jesus bid them. They filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"

A tremendous miracle had occurred! Somewhere between the filling of the waterpots with water and the time the master of the feast tasted it, Jesus caused the water to be transformed into finest wine! And it was a lot of wine. The Greek text indicates that these waterpots held in excess of 120 gallons.. So it's clear that Jesus was not just supplying a temporary need for this festivity. He was bestowing on the bridal couple of very valuable gift-a commodity that would help sustain the young couple in their early life together. Just like on every occasion, Jesus was generous. Just like when he fed the 5,000 in the wilderness and twelve baskets were taken up, Jesus' lavish abundance corresponds with the riches of his lovingkindness. He is generous in His gifts to us. He is lavish and abundant in His pardon and grace!

"Very well," you say, "Jesus gave them a present of wine. And it was a lot of wine." But I wonder if you truly understand the value of Jesus' gift. Even the master of the feast recognized that it was high quality wine. Given that it was made by the Son of God, we may assume that it was the very finest wine. Well, what is the finest wine worth at today's prices? I looked it up. In 2015, the single most expensive wine that was readily available in the U.S. was Richebourg Grand Cru, vintage 1985. It sold for an average of just over $15,000 per bottle. There are five bottles in a gallon, so assuming that the wine Jesus made was at least as good as that, the two hundred gallons the Lord gave to the young couple would have been a gift worth over fifteen million dollars!

Well, we certainly know that our Lord is generous. But what's the main point of this account? Why did Jesus perform this miracle, and why did God set it down in holy Scripture for us to read 2000 years later? That question is answered in the last verse of our text: This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. The miracle at Cana manifested Christ's glory in order to produce faith.

We commonly refer to the Wedding at Cana as Jesus' first miracle. And it was a miracle, certainly - an astounding event that took place outside the normal laws of nature. But it's interesting that John usually doesn't refer to events like this as "miracles," but rather as "signs." For a sign is more than a miracle. A sign is a supernatural event that is meant not merely to amaze you, but to direct you to something. The signs Jesus performed - turning water into wine, calming the storm, feeding the 5000 - these were meant as sign-posts, as direction-markers. They were intended to point people to the Gospel, to direct them to the Savior of Mankind. Not just to a man who could produce bread at will. Not just to someone who could instantly cure disease. But to the promised Messiah, the Savior of mankind. And some people - a few, a small remnant - understood the signs, and followed the signs just like you'd follow signs on a freeway. And where did it lead them? It led them to faith. Jesus' disciples were at Cana. They saw the Lord manifest his glory in the miracle at Cana. And His disciples believed in Him. Indeed, later in his Gospel John says that …many of the people believed in Him, and said, "When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?" At the very end of John's Gospel we read, And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written - why? - that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. - Jn 20:31

One writer had a poetic description of what happened at Cana. He said that "…the water looked on its Creator, and blushed." Well might you and I blush when we think of our many sins, and the many times when we've disobeyed our Creator and transgressed his holy Law. But the miracle at Cana is a sign for us as well. Jesus performed this mighty miracle, and manifested his glory, so that we too might believe in him, and trust in him with all our hearts. So that we too might not only be amazed at his power, but trust in his power-His almighty power to save us from our sins. So that we too might "lay our sins on Jesus, the spotless lamb of God, who bears them all and frees us, from the accursed load." We place our confidence in another blushing liquid, not the wine that flowed from the waterpots at Cana, but the blood that flowed from our Savior's wounds on Calvary. "For the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

Dear Christian, rejoice in that cleansing! During this season of Epiphany, examine once again the signs of your Savior's glory, the divine power working those deeds that no mortal can do. Feel that power, the power of the Holy Spirit, stirring your heart. For just like those disciples, Jesus manifested his glory to you with the purpose: He showed you the miracle at Cana so that you might find eternal life. So that, by faith in him, you might escape the consequences of your sins and by his grace spend endless ages in the everlasting glory of heaven! As Jesus said, In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. - Jn 14:2-3.

I ran across something interesting the other day - wine that was literally a sign. There's a company in Florida that does nothing but custom brass weather vanes. They're very beautiful, and very expensive. The one that caught my attention was shaped like a wine bottle. As it swings in the breeze, it appears to be pouring wine into one of four glasses. If you want to know what direction the wind is coming from, you just look at which of the four glasses the bottle is tilted toward. In that way it provides valuable information. The wine is a sign! The wine in our text is also a sign, only the information it provides is infinitely more valuable to us. Not which direction the wind is blowing, but in which direction - and along which path - lies our eternal life. With this morning's account the miracle at Cana has manifested again to our eyes the glory of our Savior Jesus. God grant that, as it did with His disciples, this manifestation may spring up to produce faith in our hearts and everlasting life as well! In Jesus' name, AMEN.