“The Son of God, the Wedding, and the Wine of Gladness” / Epiphany 2 2017 / John 2:1-11Pr. Christopher Gillespie
January 15, 2017
In Name of the + Jesus. Amen.
Today’s Holy Gospel is written for your benefit. As St. John the Evangelist later says, “These [signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Therefore, today’s tale of water into wine at a wedding in Cana isn’t just any story. It is, as John says, the “beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.”
No one but God alone can turn water into wine. Normally He does this by causing the seed to sprout, the seed to grow into a vine, the vine draw water from the soil, bud and bear fruit, transforming that water into lovely grapes, which are crushed and naturally ferment into wine. Make no mistake, even ordinary wine is a gift from God.
But at that wedding in Cana, the Son of God skips the steps and goes straight from water to wine by a Word of command. This ought not surprise us since He is the very Word spoken over the void that brought all creation into existence. His Spirit is the breath that gives life and preserves it. Everything that we are and that we have is a gift from God, including the table wine at the wedding.
But the wine isn’t the focus, rather Jesus is. Primarily, John wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to testify who Jesus is. By His signs, Jesus manifests His glory. We have confessed His humanity throughout the holy twelve days of Christmas. Now, He epiphanies or reveals to us that He is divine. Together, Christmas and Epiphany shows us how His divine and human natures work together with unity of His person to bring about our salvation.
Jesus epiphanies to His disciples with the glory of God so that they would believe in Him. He epiphanies to You with the glory of God in the Holy Scriptures and in the Holy gifts of Baptism, Absolution, and Supper. As with His disciples, the purpose of His revelation is that you believe He is the Son of God, the Christ, and receive life by His name. As He says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) By faith in this Jesus, you have forgiveness, life, and salvation.
And the fact that Jesus reveals Himself to His disciples and you at a wedding is significant. Marriage between man and woman was instituted by God from the beginning. By attending this wedding, Jesus dignifies this and all weddings as God-pleasing and a cause for celebration. What more noble a guest could you have at your wedding than the Word of God that created us male and female? The couple must have been delighted to have Jesus, His mother Mary, and the disciples attend!
Jesus endorsed this view of marriage, despite all the lies this world, the devil, and your own flesh would tell you. Do you remember this story? “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:3–6)
Therefore, weddings are a time for great joy for both God and man alike. Jesus supports His institution of marriage. Jesus brings joy and delight to marriage as He teaches sinners to live together in His forgiveness. Jesus sweetens marriage and every cross that comes in it. His presence and support with a Christian marriage, transforms what the world sees as a burden and inconvenience into a gift, which He comes to help and support.
But then there is the matter of the wine. As you may remember, in Jewish custom, wedding feast usually lasts a week. All the family and friends would remain for a week of festivities. It’s quite the party and the ever sociable Jesus, along with His mother and disciples, were there. And there would be wine throughout, a gift from God. As the Psalmist says, “That [God] may bring forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man.” (Psalm 104:15) This not wine for drunkenness but wine for rejoicing!
That’s why St. Mary is concerned. To run out of wine might be a bad omen for the marriage. The wedding party was just getting going and the wine was out! Surely the bridegroom was getting nervous. And because Jesus loves weddings and wants us to celebrate them, Mary rightly expects Jesus to share her concern. But after she brings it to Jesus’s attention, He said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
Jesus’s hour will come when He goes the way of the cross. The “hour” is the hour of His death. In that “hour” He will make full and complete satisfaction for the wages of sin. He will die to bring about your salvation and the salvation of the world. He will not drink the wine of gladness in that hour but the bitter cup of wrath. He will drink vinegar, soured wine. And He will drink it all, even to the dregs. He will end death forever.
Only after that “hour,” will the true and everlasting feast begin. His call will ring out by His apostles and all those He sends in His name. And those who heed His invitation will come into the wedding feast of the Lamb. For Jesus is the true Bridegroom, who comes to lay down His life for you, His bride, the Church. He sacrifices Himself for you. He takes all your sin and wickedness on Himself. He gives you His innocence and covers all your sins. You are the pure and spotless bride, clothed in the spotless white garments of His righteousness.
Because you are joined to Christ Jesus in one flesh union, you too are regarded by God as righteous and holy again for His sake. Jesus loves weddings and most of all He loves you. For you are His holy bride, the one whom He died for. This is the joy and benefit of His Epiphany revelation today. This is the benefit of faith in Jesus.
And that’s why He instituted and gives us to eat and drink the foretaste of the wedding feast to come. He wants us to remember, wait patiently, and rejoice in our betrothal to Him. For in this Sacrament, we are joined intimately to Jesus and receive from Him every blessing of this holy union. And when He comes again, He will take us into the wedding hall and we will feast and drink the sweet wine of gladness that never ends. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
Grace Lutheran Church