Here we are, in the middle of Epiphany, of the season that focuses on Christ revealing that He is indeed the True God. Our Gospel lessons will be moments where Jesus’ glory pops out, shines forth. And we see this today in our Gospel text. The Wedding at Cana. It is a familiar text. Jesus and His disciples go to a wedding at Cana – Mary tells Jesus that they are out of wine – Jesus then changes water to wine. We often think of this as Jesus’ first miracle. John, though, uses a different word. This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory. He epiphanied Glory, He revealed it – and how – by a sign. That's a great word: sign. Think for a moment on what a sign is. A sign tells you something. A sign lets you know what is going on, where you are at. If you are trying to find a new store or business, you look for their sign. The sign lets you know who they are. The sign out in front of our church lets people know who we are – this is Trinity Lutheran Church. Signs inform. Signs teach. And that’s what Jesus is doing with this sign – the first of His signs. He is teaching us who He is. So let's look at this sign and see Jesus.
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Remember, a Gospel is a book of the Church – it is something that Christians hear and read. The idea of just handing someone a book and saying “read this” isn’t what the Gospels were written for. You were told about Christ, and then you studied the Word to see more fully. So keep in mind, John expects believers to be reading this – people who have heard the Gospel, the story of Jesus before. On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. What jumps out to you, O Christian? What phrase that has a lot of importance to us as Christians? Third day. What happens on the third day? Christ’s Resurrection. Christ’s glory is shown forth – He rises from the dead, the grave cannot hold Him. John is keeping that idea in front of us. But what happens on this third day? On the third day there was a wedding. Think on Jesus’ parables. How many times is a wedding used to describe the kingdom of heaven? Christ is called the Bridegroom quite often. So here we see Jesus, on the third day at a wedding – and he manifests His glory. It makes sense that Jesus is going to do something here; the stage is set.
When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Now, at first glance, this seems strange. It seems like Jesus says He’s not going to do anything. My hour has not yet come. That’s not quite what Jesus is saying. Last week Mary wasn't ready for her Baby to be the Messiah, but now, Mary is eager. Mary wants her Son to get the show on the road. Mothers, I’m sure you’ve all been brimming over with excitement when your child is getting ready to do something neat – a basketball game, a concert, fawning over a kid before prom. Now imagine your kid was the Messiah. Alright Son, go make your momma proud! But what does Jesus say? My hour has not yet come. Mom, this here today isn’t the main point. What goes on here isn’t the highlight of what I do. This is simply a third day – not THE third day upon which I will rise. This is simply a wedding, not the great eternal wedding feast. That hour has not come yet – we aren’t to the life of the world to come yet. Do you see what this teaches us about Jesus ? His focus is not upon doing things which might impress people, His focus is not on winning renown. My hour has not yet come. Christ’s focus is upon the events of Good Friday and Easter – His eyes are turned towards the Cross. This is how you see and recognize that Jesus is God – His focus is always upon Salvation, upon showing love to us, upon doing His Father’s will of winning for men salvation. He is obedient to the Father, and He shows love. This is what we see when we see Christ.
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Now, there were six stone 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. And that's how the water becomes wine. There is no big production. There is no bold statement up front – I see you are out of wine – I can fix that, ha ha ha. There is no bragging, there is no boasting. There are no Technicolor fireworks announcing that a miracle is occurring. Simply Jesus having the servants do what He wishes. The Word goes forth, and water is changed into wine. It is that simple. Do you see what else we learn about Jesus here? He is quite understated. Our society is full of braggarts and big productions – I'm sick of ads for the Super Bowl halftime show already. That’s not how Jesus operates. Jesus doesn’t waste time trying to show how important or wonderful He is. Jesus doesn’t toot His own horn. Rather, He just sees what needs to be done, and He gets to it. He takes what is simple – in the case of our text – a few stone jars and some water, and uses it to accomplish His purposes.
We see that same idea here in His Church. How does God come to us? How does God bring His salvation to us? With loud, thundering booms? With great big explosions and rock concert flare? No. Through His Word and sacraments. Think on this – there is nothing in the world that you or I will ever come across more amazing than forgiveness. There is nothing more life changing than forgiveness – for it changes us for eternity. And how does it come? Quite simply. Through the Word. That Word can be spoken. I forgive you all of your sins. Simple. Not very impressive. Yet life changing – because they are the Words Christ has told His servants in His Church to speak to His people. God works through Baptism. I Baptize you in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Simple. Again, not very impressive. Yet in the water of Baptism we are made children of God, heirs to eternal life – we are joined to Christ. God works through the Supper. Bread and wine are taken, and God speaks His Word and says, Take and eat, this is my Body. Take and drink, this is my Blood. God takes simple bread and wine and attaches His Word to it – and suddenly He gives us His own Body and Blood, gives us His life, His forgiveness, attaches us to Himself again. All of this, all of God’s Working is simple – understated. God isn’t interested in impressing us with flash and spectacle – He is interested in getting His forgiveness and life to you. And so, He chooses simple things – His Word, Baptism, the Supper – so that He can come to you often. So that He can come whenever you need Him. You don’t have to wait for a big to-do but rather you receive forgiveness daily and richly in His Church. This is how Jesus does things.
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 the people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” The good wine. Before Jesus intervenes, it was not good. Before Jesus comes, the wine was going to be poor or gone. They were down to the dregs. And then Jesus acts, and it is good. This makes perfect sense. When the Word went forth at Creation, it was Good. When Christ Jesus, the eternal Word of God comes forth and acts, what He does will of course be good.
How do you know that Jesus is God? What is He about doing? Making things good. Restoring creation. Man had been made good, but man fell into sin. So Jesus comes, becomes Man Himself, and goes to the Cross and suffers and dies and rises again so that we would be forgiven, would be made righteous, would be declared once again by God to be Good. This is what Jesus does by His Word, this is what He is about. Restoring Creation. Making things right again. We were created to be with God, and this is what Jesus has accomplished for us. What Jesus does here at the wedding at Cana is a sign of what He always does – it shows us who He is – He is God almighty who restores creation by His Word. Yet this sign – this wedding feast at Cana, it isn’t the point. The wonder of Christ Jesus isn’t that He can change water into wine. No, as our Lord says, “My Hour is not yet come.” The true wonder of Christ we see and behold on Good Friday when He goes to the Cross, where He cries out it is finished, where He breathes His last and dies so that we would be forgiven. The true wonder of Christ we see and behold on the True third day, when He strides forth from the tomb alive, when we see that the grave could not hold Him and that He has indeed conquered death our foe.
This true wonder, Christ’s death and resurrection, is what our Lord’s Church is about. Here in His House we are brought the benefits of that death and resurrection. We hear His Word of life. We are washed and united to His death and resurrection in Holy Baptism. We do not simply get to drink wine, but wine that is now His Blood which is shed for us for the remission of our sin. The sign we see today in our Gospel lets us know who Jesus is – that He is True God who comes to earth humbly out of love for us to win us salvation, and we here in His Church on earth delight in that salvation which He continues to bring to us humbly here until we shall see it face to face for all eternity at the true Wedding Feast of the Lamb. In the Name of Christ Jesus, the Light of the World + Amen.