2nd Sunday after Epiphany – C LW #79, LSB #’s 420, 394
Text – John 2:11
This beginning of signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, & His disciples believed in Him.
WHEN THE WINE WAS GONE
This familiar story is the 1st miracle recorded by St. John, & according to his text the 1st miracle that Jesus performed. Now days, we commonly refer to it as a miracle, but John simply calls it – this beginning of signs. For John the focus is not upon the sign itself, the changing of water into wine, but on the fact which the sign points to.
For the Apostle John, the signs point to the fact that Jesus is not merely a man. Jesus is, in reality, the one chosen by God to save the world. Jesus is man and God. Who else could suspend the laws of nature, but He who created those very laws.
The Apostle uses the word signs to lessen the emphasis on the miracles, & to increase the emphasis upon what the miracles point to, the glory & the divinity of the man Jesus.
In the 1st chapter of his Gospel John wrote, “The Word became flesh & made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One & Only, who came from the Father, full of grace & truth.” Now, through the story of the water being turned into wine, John proceeds to tell you & me about the glory the disciples saw, & how they saw it.
When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.” Her Son replies, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother then said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
We see that Mary comes to her Son with what is, in effect, a prayer. She’s asking Him for help. As is often the case with us, the prayer is answered with the instruction to be patient.
The time is not right. Yet Mary is not offended, & proves her trust in her Son by telling the
servants to do whatever He tells them. She then leaves it up to Jesus to determine the course of action & the timing. PAUSE
How often do we take offense when God does not answer our prayers as we see fit? When God doesn’t follow our time table, don’t we frequently give up on Him? Don’t we commonly take matters into our own hands, & end up making the situation worse?
Then, we feel even more sorry for ourselves. Then, we have our guilt to deal with as well. At that point we wish we had simply left things alone. So let’s take our example from the mother of Jesus & seek humility, obedience & patience rather than answers.
Another point to bring out is that Jesus let them run out of wine in the 1st place. He allowed them to run out so they would recognize their need. In regard to this miracle Martin Luther said:
“No one can fully appreciate the grace of God until he feels his need for it. Mercy doesn’t feed those who are full & satisfied, but it does feed those who are hungry. He that is wise, strong & finds something good in himself, & is not yet poor, miserable, sick, a sinner & fool; he cannot come to Christ nor receive His grace.”
Meanwhile, back at the wedding, & when the time is right, Jesus tells the servants to fill the jars with water. He tells them to draw some out of the jars & give it to the master of the banquet. After tasting it the master calls the bridegroom aside & says, “Everyone brings out the best wine first & then the cheaper wine last. But you have saved the best until now.”
The master of the banquet is perplexed. This is backwards from common sense. It defies human reason to save the good wine for when the people cannot appreciate it. Financially it makes no sense to waste the expensive wine on people who can no longer discriminate between good wine & bad. But then it makes no sense either, that God would take sinful, stubborn, selfish & unloving people like us & spend the life of His Son for our sins. The grace of God makes no sense to human beings without the work of the Holy Spirit creating belief & faith in our heart. To unbelievers it seems ridiculous to take the blame, & the pain, intended for someone else. Human wisdom says, “They made their bed, let them lie in it!”
God’s wisdom is far superior. God’s wisdom & perfection allow Him no other choice but to do the best. When Yahweh created this world it was perfect. Men ruined it through their sin, & ever since have known nothing else but imperfection.
All our lives we have known want & need. Everything we do, & experience, falls far short of God’s original design & creation.
The experiences of our lives tell us that everything we do, even our best intentions, eventually fail, spoil or come to ruin. And we seldom even attempt to do our best. We often ruin things right from the start. Many marriages fail in less than a year. New cars are damaged within weeks, & something like 90% of new businesses fail within five years.
The dinner gets burned. The floor gets dirty. Our new year’s resolutions last barely a day. Our homework doesn’t get done. We fail our tests. We’re late for appointments, & our bodies get old. Nothing ever completely satisfies. We want more & more & more. That’s what we learn from the school of hard knocks. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
So what’s this revealing of the glory of Jesus all about? It is about the reversal of the sinful order of the world as you & I have learned it. It’s about water becoming wine, about the unclean becoming clean, about sinners becoming saints. The glory of Jesus was fully revealed by His power to change the dead into the living.
In the old order of things the wages of sin is death. But in the new order of things, sin is paid for, & death is conquered. Jesus came that we might have life & have it to the full. The
revealing of Jesus’ glory shows a glimpse of a new quality of existence. An existence where there’ll be no more falling short of complete satisfaction. Even with our eyesight, which has been weakened by sin, through Christ we can see a new & glorious life. Through faith we now see it though dimly. Yet it is unmistakable.
By changing water into wine Christ has signaled the beginning of a truly new world order. It’s a world order where Christ is the head of His body the church. It’s an order where there’s no more sickness, no more weeping & no more sorrow.
The choice wine, which the master of the banquet tasted, is a sign of the ultimate truth. The truth that in Christ Jesus man is once again holy & perfect & sinless, just as God created us to be. We are in perfect harmony with Him, our Lord & our Savior.
Once the manmade wine was gone Jesus began to reveal Himself as Messiah. On Easter Sunday He completely reveals His glory through His resurrection from the dead. He conquered death with His life, & He offers that same life to you even now.
But He does not offer it in some abstract form, that is theory only. Jesus didn’t just change water into wine in some mythological tale. The master of the banquet gives evidence of the fact when he tells the groom, “Everyone brings out the best wine first… but you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10)
We too encounter confusion about the turn of events in our lives. The times we took offense because God didn’t answer our prayer the way we wanted, Jesus can turn the memory of them into a lesson of life giving humility. When we’ve failed a test, Christ can use that to teach us lessons about perseverance, in spite of our sense of failure.
Damage we’ve done to a new car through an accident can help us learn that the things of this world are not worth getting upset over. Maybe the dirty floors don’t even need to be cleaned as often as you think! You see God’s forgiveness doesn’t just overlook the sins we commit. His forgiveness is meant to change our entire outlook on life, from one of being self-centered to one of being God-centered.
Your very attitude toward life is meant to be changed to one of joy & celebration because of the God who loves us & longs to change us, to change us from plain & ordinary human beings, into Christians with glorified bodies like our Savior has had since His resurrection.
He died & He rose from the dead in order that He might change our eternal death into eternal life. The signs which Jesus performed are meant to point to Him as the Lord of life. Amen.
Christ the life of all the living, Christ, the death of death, our foe, Who Thyself for me once giving, to the darkest depths of woe: through Thy sufferings, death & merit, I eternal life inherit. Thousand, thousand thanks shall be, dearest Jesus unto Thee. Amen. LSB 420:1.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet