“Jesus’ Miracle at a Wedding Reveals His Glory”
(John 2:1-11 – Epiphany 2 – January 20, 2019)
John 2:1-1 – On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 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. 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!” This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Dear Redeemed in Jesus Christ our Savior:
In our text, we hear of the first miracle Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. He addressed the rather down to earth needs of a newly married man and wife, as well as guests who were present to celebrate with them. In a very low-key manner, Jesus performed a miracle that maybe only Mary, a handful of disciples, and some servants knew about. He changed water into wine, and by this it says He “manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.”
How often in the Gospels, we see Jesus mingling with people where they are at, in the midst of everyday life. He shows concern for their needs by healing the sick, comforting the sorrowful, providing for the hungry. Then He takes it to a higher level, teaching them about the kingdom of heaven, and revealing His glory as their Savior. Jesus’ miracles testified to His power to provide the most important need of fallen mankind – in the forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life He came to win.
As He begins His public ministry: “Jesus’ Miracle at a Wedding Reveals His Glory.” First we see how 1) He blesses marriage with His presence; then 2) He lovingly provides in a time of need; and by this 3) He strengthens the faith of His followers.
1) He blesses marriage with His presence
Just a few days before, Jesus had called several disciples to follow Him. Then, one of the first things He did was to attend a wedding to which they had been invited. A Jewish marriage began with betrothal, in which the bride and groom were pledged to each other. Their vows truly made them man and wife; but they would not live together after the ceremony. Some time later, the evening would come when the groom went to the home of his bride. Companions of both would accompany them in festive procession, as the man led his wife to his home to live. Then followed a wedding feast that typically lasted seven days. Jesus was honored to attend this occasion, to bless the marriage by His presence, and to bring joy to the home of the newlyweds.
What a great blessing God has given in the estate of marriage. Yet all too often, marriage is not highly honored as it ought to be. Many try to replace God-given marriage with man-made arrangements – from living together in fornication, to adultery, to homosexuality, etc. But God Himself honors and blesses marriage as He has given it. Before the fall into sin, before desires ever became corrupted, in His perfect creation God instituted marriage as a holy union of one man and one woman, whom He makes one flesh for life (Genesis 2:21-24). Hebrews 13:4 says: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.” God’s gift of marriage provides the closest loving companionship. And if God wills, it provides for the blessing of children. By His gift of marriage and family, God provides for countless down to earth, everyday needs.
A Christ-centered marriage and home receives God’s blessing in a special way, for it also pictures heavenly things. God shows His high regard for marriage by comparing it to Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. Ephesians 5:25 says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” As Jesus began His earthly ministry, it was fitting that He blessed a marriage by His presence. For as the heavenly Bridegroom, He would bring greatest blessing by giving His life in love for us. On the cross, He would pour out His precious blood to redeem us from all our sins. Then He would rise to present us as His Bride, “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27), clothed in His wedding garment of righteousness. What a joyful occasion it is for our heavenly Bridegroom, as He unites us to Himself through baptism and faith, and He brings us to dwell with Him in the house of His Church. And what a joyful occasion it will be one day, when He brings us to live in the place He is preparing for us in His Father’s house in heaven (John 14:2).
So Jesus considered it a great honor to be an invited Guest in the home of these newlyweds. As the Bridegroom of the soul, He was there to bless their temporal and eternal needs. Whether married or not, may we all invite our Savior to be the honored Guest in our home, that He may bless us in the highest way. What a great blessing it is for us to share His gifts of love, and the truth of His salvation, with our spouse and children, and our brothers and sisters. What a blessing it is to share His gifts of love in the house of His Church, as the family of God, as brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus is pleased to dwell with us each day as our Savior and bless us with His gifts of love, both temporal and eternal.
2) He lovingly provides in time of need
He demonstrates this in our text. During that week of wedding celebration, the wine ran out. The newlyweds could have been faced with a stressful and embarrassing situation, in the midst of their joyful occasion. But Jesus revealed His glory by lovingly providing in time of need.
The first to bring it to Jesus’ attention was Mary. “They have no wine,” she told her Son. Mary knew who Jesus was, as the promised Messiah who had come as the Savior of the world. She had treasured this truth in her heart ever since the angel announced that she would conceive by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of God (Luke 1:35; 2:19). She had been waiting for Jesus’ glory to be revealed. She knew He was able to help, so she came to Him in time of need.
Jesus replied in an unexpected way: “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” It was a respectful form of address. But it set matters straight about proper authority. Mary was addressing Jesus as her earthly Son, whose help she was used to having around the home. Jesus responded according to His relationship as the Son of God. His earthly mother had no say in matters related to His work as the Savior of the world. Every word and deed, every time and occasion in Jesus’ earthly mission, had already been set by His Father.
Now, having heard the words of her Savior, by faith Mary humbly submitted. She presented the need and left the outcome to Him. She told the servants: “Whatever He says to you, do it.” And in answer to such prayer, Jesus provided abundantly more than asked or imagined, according to His power (Ephesians 3:20). The six stone waterpots used for purification could hold 120 to 180 gallons of water, when the servants filled them to the brim as Jesus instructed. When they drew some out and took it to the master of the feast, they saw that Jesus had turned the water into wine. Not only did He provide abundantly, He provided the very best. The master of the feast exclaimed to the bridegroom: “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!”
Our Savior is present in our homes and our daily lives too, lovingly here to provide for us, just as He was there in the home of those newlyweds. Is there some unmet need that is causing us distress, leading us to wonder how we will get by? Is there some shortcoming in our life that is causing us shame, leaving us unable to fulfill certain expectations? Have troubles entered our home like a thief, stealing away the joys we once had? Have the joys we once knew in marriage and family life given way to loss, loneliness, and sorrow? Are we burdened by concerns of health? Are we wondering how our need will ever be fulfilled and work out the right way?
Jesus knows our need even before the prayer is on our tongue (Psalm 139:4). He invites us to cast all our care upon Him, for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Yet, as we see in Jesus’ response to Mary, sometimes His answer is: “My time has not yet come.” We are not always ready to hear that. We want to tell the Lord how and when He should bring relief. When He does not answer as we like, we pity ourselves and feel we deserve better. Or we despair and feel we are forsaken. Jesus needs to set us straight by His Word. The authority is His. The answer must come in His time. And it will be the best way, the most loving way, for our temporal and eternal blessing.
Truly Jesus’ hour of greatest blessing did come when, by the will of His Father, He provided the answer to our most desperate need in life. That hour was when He went to the cross to give His life for us. There He suffered the punishment for all our sins. He paid for all our faithless responses to life’s challenges, for all the ways we have questioned God and tried to take matters into our own hands. Jesus paid with His precious blood, innocent suffering, and death. He filled all our shortcomings by His own perfect life, His righteousness which God now counts to us. Now He lives to fill the highest needs of our soul; He lives to give us salvation and eternal life.
What greater proof of God’s love do we need, when it comes to trusting Him for daily needs? “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Jesus is present each day, blessing our homes, lovingly providing for our needs the best way. Like Mary, having heard the words of our Savior, by faith we can present our need to Him in prayer and entrust our whole life to His care.
3) He strengthens the faith of His followers
Sometimes the Lord lets us go through times of trial and need, that we might see His grace and glory in a new way as He provides for us. His loving purpose is to strengthen our faith as His followers. As 1 Peter 1:6-9 says: “Now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In our time of need, Jesus leads us to cling all the more fervently to His Word of promise. And here, He reveals His true glory as our Savior and strengthens our faith.
This was the result in our text, as it concludes: “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” Already, the disciples had been brought to saving faith in Jesus. As we read before our text, John the Baptist had pointed them to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. As Jesus called the disciples to follow Him, they acknowledged Him as the Messiah and Savior (John 1:29-51). But now, as Jesus revealed His glory by a miraculous sign, their faith was strengthened. Jesus’ miracles were signs to demonstrate the real authority and power behind His Word of salvation. As the disciples took His Word to heart, their faith was strengthened by His Gospel’s power.
Today Jesus is here, ministering to us through His Word and Sacraments. In these, Jesus gives us signs of His saving grace and glory, and the Holy Spirit powerfully works faith in us. In Baptism, Jesus washes away all our sins, unites us to Himself in faith, and presents us as holy children of God. In His Holy Supper, Jesus gives us more than the finest wine; He gives us His holy and precious blood for the remission of our sins. And as Jesus works His miracle of grace in our lives, showing us His true glory as our Savior, He strengthens our faith as His followers.
Dear family of God in Christ, dear beloved Bride of our heavenly Bridegroom: rejoice! Today, our Savior is present to bless us in our marriage, family, and homes. He is present to bless us in His Church with His gifts of salvation. He is here to answer our prayers and fulfill every need of body and soul the best way. He is here to strengthen our faith by His loving promises. And at last, the faithful Bridegroom of our soul will lead us in joyful procession into His heavenly home, to celebrate the marriage feast in never-ending bliss (Revelation 19:7, 9).
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.