FIRST READING 1/20/2019 Isaiah 62:1-5 English Standard Version (ESV)
1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,[a]
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,[b]
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,[c]
and your land Married;[d]
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
SECOND READING 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 English Standard Version (ESV)
Now concerning[a] spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
GOSPEL John 2:1-11 English Standard Version (ESV)
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 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 10 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.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Sermon: January 20, 2019 Text: John 2:1-11
Would you like to go to a party? Who wouldn’t. In our text today Jesus is going to a party, a wedding. It’s at Cana in Galilee, not that far from Nazareth, where He grew up. How He got invited to the wedding is not directly stated, but it may have been because His mother was a friend of the family. So Mary is there, Jesus is there, and Jesus brings along His disciples.
Mary finds out that the big wedding celebration, which, by the way, would last for days–she finds out that they have run out of wine. That’s not good. That would be a disaster, an embarrassment, and would really put a damper on things. So she goes to her son, Jesus, and asks Him if He can do anything about this. Apparently, she realizes that her son has the authority and the power, from God, to do some pretty amazing things. And she trusts her son to do the right thing in this situation. So she tells the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” That is faith speaking. “Do whatever He tells you”–that’s pretty good. It shows Mary to be a model of faith, a role model for the church. Would that we all had the faith of Mary to say about Jesus, “Do whatever He tells you.”
But there’s more to this story than that. Jesus addresses the situation of the need for more wine at the party, and–poof!–there, He makes some. So Jesus turns water into wine, and, there you go, no more wine shortage. What we see is that Jesus clearly has power from heaven to do this mighty miracle. No one else could do this. Jesus is the very Son of God come in the flesh. We read in the beginning of John’s gospel that this eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity,–that He was in the beginning with God, and that through Him all things were made. So now as the Word made flesh, the Son of God incarnate has the power of creation at His command, demonstrated here in His turning water into wine.
And the “more” to this story is found in some of the details that John provides in his telling of it. Notice, the water that Jesus turns into wine–where does it come from? John tells us: “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.” Now John didn’t have to tell us that much detail. He could have just said, “Now there were some large water jars there, and Jesus turned the water in them into wine.” But we’re told more than that. There were six of these large stone water jars, each of them holding twenty or thirty gallons. And Jesus has the servants fill each one of them to the brim. This emphasizes how abundant, super-abundant, is the gift Jesus is going to give. That’s how Jesus does things. Always more than we can expect or imagine. He is rich in His grace toward us. Full to the brim. Always more than we can measure.
John continues on to tell us that these are six stone water jars used “for the Jewish rites of purification.” The Jews would have various washings to render themselves ritually clean and to get rid of certain types of uncleanness. With these, they often would go even beyond what God had commanded for Israel. We read elsewhere in the Gospels, that the Pharisees, would have particular hand-washing procedures at regular intervals to make themselves clean. Thus the presence of these six stone jars for ritual purification.
These are the vessels that Jesus is filling full. Then He replaces them with different content, the new wine in old wineskins, if you will. Or in this case, the new wine in old water jars. Do you get the point? Those old Jewish rites of purification are passing away. They pointed ahead to the new and only way of purification, which is through what Jesus provides. Jesus fulfills–Jesus fills full–what the old covenant pointed ahead toward. He brings in the new wine of the new covenant.
In this His first miracle, Jesus is pointing ahead to His final miracle. He takes our self absorbed attempts to make ourselves clean and righteous and substitutes them His cleansing. Our feeble attempts are placed upon Him and His perfection is placed on us.
Even more interesting is the fact that Jesus does this with water and wine. For with water, joined to His Word, He creates faith and washes away our sins in Baptism. In Communion, He joins wine with His Word to sustain us in our faith and life with Him.
Notice how Jesus says at this point, early on in His ministry–He says, “My hour has not yet come.” Not now, not yet, not at Cana. But that hour will come. For that is why Jesus has come. To accomplish our cleansing, to accomplish our purification, at the cross. Later in this Gospel, toward the conclusion of His ministry, Jesus will say, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . . Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. . . .And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” And then John adds, “He said this to show by what kind of death He was going to die.” In other words, Jesus is about to be lifted up on the cross, and this is why He came, and this is how He will be glorified, and this is therefore His “hour.” Cana, was only the beginning. The conclusion will be at the cross. Cana is a sign pointing us to the cross, where Jesus will provide all the purification the world will ever need, in super-abundance, through His holy blood. . It is in these bookends that Jesus reveals His power and God’s plan for you and for me.
Brothers and sisters, we need the washing that only Jesus can provide. Our sins would condemn us, and we cannot wash them off on our own. The Pharisees tried that, and it didn’t work. Pilate tried that, and it didn’t work. The only cleansing that does work is the purification that comes through Jesus’ blood. “The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin,” John writes in his epistle. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
And, what is the result? The answer: Life and joy and celebration. Think of it. Where do life and joy and celebration all come together most beautifully? At a wedding. A wedding is about the most joyous kind of celebration we have in our experience. It’s a great party. There is wine to gladden the heart. And in biblical weddings, the joy and the feasting and the celebrating goes on for days. It’s no wonder that Jesus so often in his teaching compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast, a wedding banquet.
And so it is that Jesus chooses to do this miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding. It’s a sign. It’s the perfect setting for demonstrating the life and the joy that Jesus is bringing through his death and resurrection. Notice, John mentions, “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana.” And there will come another “third day” when Jesus will rise from the dead and the celebrating will begin! The celebrating continues to this day, and it will never end. Death cannot stop it. Life is the outcome, the life that Jesus bestows on us in super-abundance. Would you like to go to a party? You’re already here! In the name of Jesus, Amen!
Prayer of the Church
In peace, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
For grace to receive the Word of God with joy, for repentance from all our sins, and for the aid of the Holy Spirit to amend our sinful lives, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
For holiness of life and speech, for grace to live out fully the promise of our Baptism into Christ, for all needful gifts of the Spirit in our vocation as God’s servants, and for the will and desire to serve the Lord with joy, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
For the renewal of the Church, for strong and faithful leaders who will inspire us to follow the Lord’s bidding, and for faithful pastors, Sunday School teachers and all church workers who serve us with diligence for God’s kingdom and love for His people, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
For the government and those who protect us in this place; for our police officers, fire fighters, highway workers and all who put themselves in harm’s way for our safety. For all who care for us our doctors, nurses and all medical teams, for our teachers and school leaders training up and instructing our children, For those who defend us in the military and armed forces, serving here at home or overseas. For their families who wait upon them, especially from among us let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
For our families, for the homes in which our people dwell, for faithful husbands and wives, for the children in our care, for the grieving in their loss, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
For those afflicted in mind or body, for the aged and infirm, for the widow and orphan, for the imprisoned and persecuted because of the faith, for all those for whom our prayers have been requested _____________ and for those named in our hearts which we now lift before You. (Time of silence for the congregation to add their prayers) that they may know the comfort and healing of God’s grace to sustain them to the day of the resurrection, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
For those who have departed this life in faith and now rest in God’s nearer presence, let us give thanks; for our struggle in faith in this mortal life, that we may neither grow weary nor despair of the hope God has placed in us; and for the blessed reunion in the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom without end, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. who also taught us to pray…. Our Father, who art in heaven………
Go in in Peace – Serve the Lord – Thanks be to God