Second Sunday after Epiphany – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. John 2:1-11 “Beautiful and Adorned”
January 14, 2024 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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O Lord Christ, who by Your presence and first miracle at Cana of Galilee adorned and beautified the holy estate of matrimony: We beseech You to sanctify the marriage bond in the life of our people, and to bless our homes with Your abiding presence; for the honor and glory of Your name. Amen. (Parish Prayers, ed. Frank Colquhoun, p. 46)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 2nd chapter of the Gospel according to St. John. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
And [Jesus] said to [the servants], “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.”
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, whose miracles pointed to Him as the only Son of God, full of grace and truth, dear fellow redeemed:
A long time ago there was a man who was called to be a prophet. He wasn’t just any prophet. He was a prophet who asked for a double portion of spirit from the prophet whose spot he would be taking. This prophet was given that double portion as he watched the prophet Elijah being taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire. After watching this event and a search for Elijah happens, Elisha is told by the people of Jericho that the city is good, but the water is bad. “He said, ‘Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.’ So they brought it to him. Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, ‘Thus says the LORD, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.’ So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke” (2 Kings 2:20-22). Elisha is used as an instrument of God and our text for today shows us something adorned and beautiful. Jesus doesn’t need an instrument; He puts His glory on display.
Now our text is a little different than what happened with the prophet Elisha. Elisha was dealing with water that was no good. Water that needed healing. In our text we have water and “when the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’” What a difficult situation to be in. You are hosting a huge celebration. You have all your family and friends over for an entire week! Then you get the news that the main drink of the party is almost gone. What are you going to do? Many of us who have gotten married know that this situation is one we wouldn’t want to be in. It would be embarrassing. It just so happens that at this wedding there are a few special guests. Jesus, the first few disciples that He has gathered, and Jesus’ mother are all there. We see Mary was not only invited but must have been helping with the celebrations. As she finds out that there is something wrong, she knows that there is a guest at the wedding who can help.
Mary remembers how special her son is. She remembered the angel Gabriel’s promises that came from God. Now the response that she gets from Jesus does not seem like a good response. Critics of Scripture will point this section out to say look how Jesus treats His mother. And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” Unfortunately for the critics of Scripture, Jesus is not insulting His mother. Mary had good intentions. In her good intentions, she messed up with one thing. She went to her son as a mother asking her son for help. Jesus reminds her that there is a change in their relationship. Of course, He respects her as His earthly mother, but He reminds her that His time is now devoted to the will of His heavenly Father. There are many ways to react to what Jesus says. Mary took what Jesus said positively. What would you do?
This text has a few themes in it, and as we look at why this moment is one of beauty with the wedding, we can forget about this interaction of Jesus and His mother. A question is given to Jesus in the form of a prayer. The thought is He can help the problem at hand with the lack of wine. Jesus took this question, and it looks as though He isn’t going to help. We know that He does in a very special way, but again let’s look at the question. When Jesus gives an answer to your prayers that don’t match up with what you asked, how do you react? How often are we humble like Mary and listen to the answer? It is easy for us to say our prayers and to expect the answer that we want. Scripture tells us that God does not work that way.
Prayer is a beautiful way in which we can communicate to God. It is an act of worship. It is a command. There are many times that we forget about prayer entirely. We will try to get through life on our own. When this doesn’t work, we will pull God down from our shelf and tell him, He should be a good god and fix it. When God doesn’t fix it or fix it the way that we would want it done, then we will take our frustrations out on God. While we can have a lack of faith at times and think that God is not listening, “when the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17). Even at a wedding that has a lack of wine, Jesus hears the prayers of those who are concerned. The people at this wedding experienced something beautiful as the glory of God is on display.
This glory is shown in a beautiful wedding gift. Mary with faith in her Savior, listens to what Jesus says to her and she goes to the servants. “Do whatever He tells you.” It is not long and Jesus comes to them. “Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.’ So they took it.” The servants are probably wondering what this has to do with the lack of wine. Then He tells a servant to draw out some and take it to the master. The anxiety the servant must have had knowing the jars were filled with water.
To save the wedding, the servant gives the water turned wine to the master of the feast. What a special day for Jesus to reveal Himself as the Christ. This holy estate of matrimony is instituted by God. This Jewish couple continues what God instituted. Jesus beautifies this celebration with His presence, and He saves it in a special way; His first public miracle. Jesus wasn’t used as an instrument. Jesus revealed His power and as He saves the celebration.
We see the outcome of Jesus’ power. “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.'” What a blessing for this newly married couple and a great honor bestowed upon their celebration! As Jesus provides help and relief here, he provides help for you as well. He sees and hears your problems in this life. He also sees the problems that you sometimes can forget about.
As your physical problems can mount up, sometimes it is hard to remember the spiritual problems. Jesus remembers the spiritual problems. He has also felt them. So, when you pray to God, you know the mediator is hearing them. To be your mediator, He had to be like you. So, the Word made flesh reveals Himself at a wedding celebration with a miracle of water into wine. The miracle points to Jesus as the Son of God who followed the will of the Father and reveals to you His glory with His death on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. Water in need of healing, water turned into wine, and souls in need of forgiveness. As God created the adorned and beautiful state of holy matrimony, the work of His Son will bring you into His beautiful kingdom.
This beautiful glory of the Savior is put off by some as only special people deserve it. The text reveals to you how wrong they are. “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory. And His disciples believed in Him.” Jesus is revealed in His miracles as being the Son of God. The Son of God is revealed to the world as the One who is the way of Salvation. He dies for the sins of the world. As the world is pointed to the cross for salvation, the text teaches about the blessings of God. The world can see God’s blessings in the institution of marriage. As God unites man and woman, marriage points us to the Bridegroom who laid down His life for His bride the church. You are adorned and beautiful with Christ’s righteousness who blesses this marriage in our text with the gift of water into wine and blesses you with the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
These are the gracious gifts of God that no one deserves. Yet these gifts reveal to the world the mercies of God. It is in His mercies that He hears the prayers of the faithful. He doesn’t turn His ears away. As He heals the waters of Jericho and He changes water into wine, these miracles point to His glory. Glory only of the Son of God, made flesh for your salvation. At an adorned and beautiful wedding celebration, the world witnesses Jesus’ first public miracle. May He continue to bless and preserve the sanctity of marriage with His blessings and may He continue to bless and keep you, hearing your prayers. Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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