Sunday, January 15, 2017

Epiphany 2 Sermon

Epiphany 2 – John 2:1-11 – January 14th and 15th, 2017

In the Name of Christ Jesus, the Light of the World +
It's not how I would have done it. That's what I thought as I sat and looked at our Gospel text. There is Jesus, and this wedding at Cana is His first miracle - as John puts it, "
This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory." The miracle in today's text is a sign - it is meant to reveal who Jesus is. It shows forth, it manifests His glory. That is what it does. And yet, as I was sitting there, tired and cranky and up entirely too early, the thought that struck me is that if *I*, Eric Brown, wanted to give a sign of *my* glory, this isn't how I would have done it. And all that goes to show is that too often today we don't think about "glory" like God does, we have a fallen, skewed view of glory. Let's look at this text and examine it in light of "glory" - knowing that the text itself defines this as truly and properly revealing glory.

"On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with His disciples." Here's the very first thing to note. This isn't the place where we would expect there to be a show of glory. Cana - okay, it's a town, but it's a backwater town off in the mountains. It's not Rome, it's not Jerusalem - it's not the big leagues, it's minor league. It's not big time, it's just some piddling wedding off in the boonies. And even there, Jesus is just a guest, a cousin of the groom, probably. Jesus isn't the center of attention, he's not even in the wedding party! How is this going to be glorious? And there's the first problem. We all too often associate "glory" with fame. We associate glory with being the center of attention. And this is what all too often we sinful folks want - we want attention, we want a bigger and bigger stage where everyone will see me and laud me. When I was little and playing wiffle ball in the front yard, I didn't day dream about hitting a weak bloop single at Single A Peoria, I was going to hit a towering grand slam in the bottom of the 9th with two outs to win the Cubs the World Series. That's what we think of when we think of Glory. In fact, we will even call people who draw attention to themselves "glory hounds". But this is not what the Scriptures speak of when they speak of Glory.

In fact, Jesus does the opposite. "When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine.' And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever He tells you.'" Before we look at the idea of glory here - a note about "Woman". This isn't like some guy today saying, "Woman, go make me some pie". In the ancient world, that was a term of respect - more like "Ma'am". So Jesus isn't being rude to His mom here - in fact, He's being very polite. But note the situation. There's Mary. And she knows who her Son is. She's been waiting thirty years for this whole Messiah thing to take the stage - and she wants it now. Let's get this show on the road Jesus - they are out of wine. And Jesus' response - what does this, this lack of wine, have to do with Me? My hour, my time has not yet come. Note this about Christ's glory - He's not seeking it - rather it will come when it is time. Christ is not about seeking fame and fortune and personal glory. That's not His focus, this isn't a selfish thing. I'm not here at this wedding to get famous, Mom. My life isn't about everyone saying, "Wow, look at how cool Jesus is, He's so awesome." That's not the glory I seek. Moreover - Christ will be glorified when the time comes. It will come when the Father glorifies the Son. John 17 begins with Jesus, just before He begins His passion, praying, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you." When Christ Jesus talks about glory, it isn't about fame. It is about Him suffering and dying. You want to see Christ's glory, you want to see the Son lifted up - it's not going to be on the shoulders of the team after he leads the game winning drive - it's going to be on the Cross. There's the glory - the Cross. That Jesus will forever be known as Christ the Crucified. That He will be forever the Lamb who was slain.

When we think of glory, we think of it as something self-serving. Of drawing attention to ourselves. Of making our life better. That's just sin, that's the impact of sinfulness and selfishness upon us. Jesus turns that on its head. His glory comes in serving, in seeking and saving the lost. It comes when He draws attention not to Himself, but to the Father - for God so loved the world that He gave His Son. Behold Christ on the Cross – this is to redeem you, this is to show you the love that the Father has for you, this is to give you eternal life. Do you want the evidence, the proof that Jesus is the Messiah? Here it is - He's not seeking after His own fame, His own glory - He simply wants to restore you to life and salvation so that God the Father might be praised eternally. Now, will Christ receive praise for this - sure - but that's not the point, the goal. The point is always the Father and you. Of course it is - Jesus is perfect, He fulfills the Law. What is the Law? Love God, love your neighbor. When you see Jesus on the Cross, what is He doing? Loving God and loving you, His neighbor - winning you forgiveness and restoring you to God.

But Jesus is full of love for His neighbor, and running out of wine at your reception would be a lousy thing, so He does decide to act. But again, note how He acts. He doesn't stride into the middle of the reception hall and say, "Hey guys, I heard you were out of wine - well, BLAMMO!" No, just very quietly we hear this: "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." See how quiet this is. Nothing spectacular. Just simple water to wine, in the back, where only the servants see. And did you note the vessels? Jesus doesn't walk up to the empty wine barrels and with a loud voice say, "BE FILLED!" Nope. Purification vessels. I'm not really here to make wine - I'm here to fully and completely purify you guys. But go on, be about your business, and let the master of the feast taste the wine, so he can be about his business. There's no seeking of fame, just showing love and care and being done with it.

And the master tastes it, and the water has become wine, and he's confused, because: “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.” This again is backwards. The master of the feast had one main job - to keep everyone having a good time without letting them get sloppy drunk. So what did you do - the first glass of wine would be "good" - that is high quality and also strong - so that everyone starts to feel good... and then you bring out cheaper, watered down wine, and keep things under control that way. But this is good wine. Strong, tasty, high quality, uncut. The kind of stuff you wouldn’t normally serve at the end of the party because that could lead to things getting well out of hand. We aren’t used to good wine this late in the game - why didn't you bring this one out first!

The wine, the food, everything was good at first. At Creation we have the Father seeing that it was good. If Adam got around to making some wine before the fall - guess what, it would have been good too. And then the fall. And then things get worse. And we had to have a master of the feast to keep things from falling to a drunken brawl, because after the fall we could find ways to mess anything up. Even parties. We'd start fights there, at a celebration, at a happy time - in parts of my family fighting is almost a Christmas tradition. And parties with no master to keep things in line - they'd get sloppy, things would just get messy. And now Christ comes, and He makes wine... and what is it? GOOD wine. Why? Because He is God, and He has come to make all things good again, to restore creation, but more than that! He comes to take sin away from mankind to where we can have all things good again and not abuse them. When we get to the feasts of eternal life, the wine there will be Good, but it won't be a problem because we won't be abusing God's good gifts to us, ever. And there is Christ Jesus, in the back, quietly doing what He does, being who He is, True God and True Man who restores creation and loves God and neighbor - and this little foretaste of the life of the world to come is in this master's cup, and the master doesn't know how to handle it.

So then, this is how Christ manifests His glory. At Cana, we see a glimpse of who He is, we see a glimpse of true glory, rather than the false, fleeting things we hope for. We are sinful men, we fall short of the glory of God - but there is Christ Jesus, the image of the invisible Father - and He goes quietly about His business. He will restore creation, He will win forgiveness for you with His death upon the Cross, He will rise from the dead to destroy death. And He will do this for you, in a simple quiet way that the world will hardly notice. He will take water, not from a purification rite vessel, but from a font, and with that Water and His Word He will wash away your sins, tying you to Himself. He will bring you to His feast, His Supper, to give you His own Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins. He will give you life and salvation and forgiveness so that you might be with Him forever. This is the glory He craves, to rest ore you to whom God had created you to be - His companion, His friend, the people who would dwell with Him in His presence for all eternity. And this is what Christ Jesus will do, and nothing will stop Him, for He is determined to show you perfect and complete love and forgive you all of your sins and raise you again on the last day. This is how He manifests His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. In the Name of Christ Jesus, the Light of the World+ Amen.

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