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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Second Sunday after the Epiphany.
John 2:1ff - Water into Wine




The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #39     Praise to the Lord                  3.1
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 370            My Hope Is Built            3.11

God’s Word Transforms

The Hymn #294   O Word of God Incarnate            3.31
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #309   O Jesus, Blessed Lord            3.70

KJV Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Second Sunday After Epiphany

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thy grace Thou hast instituted holy matrimony, in which Thou keepest us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech Thee to send Thy blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Thy gracious help in all temptations, and rear their children in accordance with Thy will; grant unto us all to walk before Thee, in purity and holiness, to put all our trust in Thee, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

God’s Word Transforms

This is the first of miracles performed by Jesus in His public ministry. Every detail is instructive, not only for the basic lesson but also for the way this connects to everything else in the Word of God.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

The presence of Jesus’ mother suggests that she was in charge of the wedding, the parents no longer living. In all societies, the parents host the wedding, yet Mary is the one in charge, the one worried about the lack of wine.

2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

The presence of Jesus and His disciples at the wedding is instructive. Jesus blessed marriage by being there, a significant lesson by itself for this marriage-hating era.

People think that living together is bliss, but marriage is a burden. They can buy a home and furniture together, have children out of wedlock, and still dither about marriage, because it is troublesome.

This shows a complete lack of understanding of the Word, because God instituted marriage, and God commands what is good for us. An unbeliever says marriage is a burden and full of woe. A believer says, “God blesses marriage, even in the midst of trouble.”

This verse means literally that Jesus was invited (called) so His presence means He chose to be there rather than not. The presence of His disciples also means that He had many witnesses who could later put together their eye-witness experiences with the revelation of the Holy Spirit in their preaching and in the Gospels.

This lesson is a corrective because an anti-marriage, anti-woman attitude was already present and came into the Christian Church as monasticism. Within a few centuries the visible church made it a sin for the clergy to marry, even though Peter and the disciples were married. Paul was probably a widower. The classic Jewish attitude was that every person should be married because marriage was blessed by God through the Word.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

The lack of parents suggests that the bride and groom had little money. They ran out of wine, which was a crisis. The normal beverage was wine, so this was more than a bother. Mary’s substitute role comes into play because she took it upon herself to fix the problem. She knew Jesus could change the situation.

This is also a good prayer in that Mary did not tell Jesus what to do, unlike the modern church entertainers of today. She told Him what the problem was. Mostly we think we will be happy if we have our plans fulfilled, so it is tempting to tell God exactly what we need and when we need it.

The result of faithful prayer is that we see how God answers problems in His own way, since He is a good manager with many years of experience. We often see that He was already answering our plea before we thought to ask, as the prophets promised and Paul affirmed.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

This verse teaches us that Jesus addressed His mother twice in the Gospel of John. Both times He called her “woman” rather than “mother.” Some translators soften this with “dear woman” and so forth. His address is rather abrupt, and shows us, just as it does at the cross, that Jesus is her Lord. The Roman Catholics turn this around and have Mary bossing Jesus as His mother – she commands as a mother! That is very sad and sick, because it diminishes Jesus and creates a caricature of Mary as lord over the Savior. The erroneous attempt to honor Mary dishonors the Word, which teaches otherwise.

This is worth noting because John’s Gospel may have been written down last. He was associated with Ephesus and became the surrogate son of Mary, taking care of her needs. There could have been a Mary cult developing, because it certainly broke out later. This addresses the problem early on, because the Holy Spirit teaches us before we even need to know the lesson taught.

Jesus abrupt address is a paradox, a seeming contradiction. He seems to resist doing anything but immediately addresses the problem. Lenski interprets the verse as “This is my role and not yours,” which is as good as anything else proposed. His hour is the crucifixion and resurrection, so His statement can be seen as declaring His readiness. The steps He must take are laid out in the Old Testament and ordered by God the Father. And yet his is not the pagan concept of Fate. Someone asks and God responds.

This is true today. Total passivity makes people accept slavery. The Protestant Reformation freed people from the slavery of the mind, as if each person had a fated role – very nice for the people on top. God set people free through a Medieval monk who pledged himself to live in a stone cell and obey his lord and master, the pope. But the Word taught him to teach the truth, and that set Europe free from the tyranny of the pope and his brutal reign.

We cannot tell God how and when to act, but we can trust in Him as our loving and gracious Father, who will listen to our needs because of His only-begotten Son.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Mary did not know how Jesus could fix the problem, but she trusted Him to do it. In an era when there is so little faith, and people brag about forgiveness without faith, Mary’s response is an example for everyone.

This also shows very clearly that Mary was in charge of the wedding. As the substitute mother, she wanted the ceremony to go well. It reminds me of a traditional Indian Christian wedding we attended. The bride’s mother was and is the nicest person on earth, full of smiles and humor. During the wedding I watched her supervising the details, and her look reminded me of an eagle ready to swoop down on any missed detail.

Mary entered the picture this way. God promised her the Savior’s birth, without normal conception. This was accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the Word – the Virgin Birth. God became man, and she knew that better than most. Therefore, how could there be a problem with the Messiah present?

It is a long-standing tradition in secular politics that a request to a ruler, even a president, must be answered. That was featured in the fictional Winds of War TV series when the young hero spoke up and asked the president, FDR, to address a problem. The president had no choice but to get involved. But that was more of an example of opportunism while Mary is showing trust in Jesus.

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water.

The miracle is well known to everyone even though it is only found in John’s Gospel. The details teach us about how Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah and began to build the disciples’ faith in the Word of God. The huge pots held 60 to 100 gallons of liquid. They were empty, so the servants knew that they were drawing water from the well and pouring the water into the jars. At that point only Jesus and the servants knew what was happening.

8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

The servants knew they put pure water into the jars, but the steward of the feast did not. He was in charge of the food and wine, so he needed to check on the new supply. Wine was often spoiled by age, turning into vinegar, so some merchants added lead to hide the change. (Antifreeze has been used in recent times – both are a bad, bad idea.)

The response of the steward is funny in an ironic way. He complains that the best wine should have been served first, when it would have been appreciated more. But he was a bit angry that the best was saved for last. Thus the water turned into wine is not only a unique miracle but one with special marks – abundance (up to 600 gallons) and quality.

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

This was a miracle that could not have been ignored. Many guests were present. The steward of the feast and the servants experienced it. The guests and disciples were eye-witnesses. One does not run out of wine and have 600 gallons without people asking, discussing, and marveling about it. And who could keep such a thing silent?

This miracle alone explains why Jesus attracted such crowds, some out of perverse desire for another spectable, but others because they sensed and believed He was the Messiah long promised.

Religious literature not included in the Old Testament promised that the Messiah would bring an era with vines having a thousand clusters, each cluster having a thousand grapes, and each grape having a thousand measures of wine. In other words, there was an expectation of abundance. God does provide an abundance, especially of grace, but also enough for us to live and prosper and share.

This was the beginning of Jesus’ miracles, and the disciples believed on Him.

KJV John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

What is sin? The Holy Spirit convicts us of not trusting in Him. That is the foundational sin.

The answer to that sin is created by the Gospel. The Spirit works faith in our hearts and strengthens that faith.

We see in the example of the disciples that they believed in Him yet faltered. We are fallible and weak, too. So the Word of God directs us to trust in Him. Abiding in Word means we will bear fruit (John 15). He will prune us to make us more fruitful.

The Word of God transforms.

How can bread and wine be the Body and Blood of Christ?

If the Word can turn water into wine, then the Real Presence is simply another example of the Word transforming. Strangely, people create some kind of barrier between on miracle and the other.

And they look for miracles on Sunday (getting up from a wheelchair) while denying the miracle clearly taught – This is My Body, give for you for the forgiveness of sin.

The Word of God creates faith in Christ, which transforms everything in this life. Those who do not believe only see difficulties and answer them with money. They scoff at those who lack their answers. As one man said, “I am already living in paradise. I don’t need faith.”

One woman told me, “I don’t want children. They are work and cost money. I want to take care of me.” I thought, “They are lucky not to have you as a mother.”

Mothers know that they look fondly at the times they did the most menial tasks for their children. Fathers remember buttoning buttons and wondering, “When will he do this for himself?” Only later the same individual is running vast networks and helping poor dad with the home computer.

Faith is a gift from God, created by the Gospel, the work of the Holy Spirit. As Luther said, “No man is so good that he can deserve forgiveness, but no sin is so evil that it cannot be forgiven by God.”

An abundance of the Gospel will always mean an abundance of forgiveness and the fruits of the Spirit. That is how the Word of God transforms, turning ordinary water into extraordinary wine.

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