“If we focus only on the miracle of water becoming wine, we miss what is perhaps the most important point of today’s gospel.”
We are the new wine
A sermon by Pastor Bob
January 8, 2012
Text: John 2:1-11
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
–Whenever I encounter this text, it causes me to think about what it is that I believe about miracles.
–This morning, I would ask you to once again enter this familiar story and see what we might find together.
–Now, to begin with, it is important to remember that the event of the Wedding at Cana is recorded only in the Gospel of John. More importantly, it is the first public miracle that this gospel records.
–Jesus has just been baptized, and called disciples, and now he is attending a very common event with them and his mother: a wedding.
–A wedding in those days was a multi-day celebration that would involve the whole community, and wine was very much a part of the celebration.
–For when it would run out, it was certainly a signal that the end of the celebration was at hand.
–And it was this disturbing news that Jesus’ own mother brings to him—there was no more wine.
–Now, you might ask yourself, “Why does Mary care?”
–And perhaps even more curiously, what does she think Jesus can do about it?
–And so we witness a kind of odd exchange between Jesus and his mother.
–After Mary tells him there is no more wine, Jesus, in a rather cryptic and short manner, replies to his beloved Mother, “What does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.”
–Yet despite these words, Jesus goes ahead and remedies the situation by having large jars filled with water, jars that would normally by used only for purification before worship.
–He then turns this water into wine, but not just any wine, rather it is the best wine of the entire wedding celebration.
–So of all the miracles that Jesus could have performed such as healing the blind or the lame, or even the raising someone from the dead, Jesus’ first miracle as he begins his public ministry is to turn water into an alcoholic beverage.
–It’s kind of funny if you think about it.
–Of all the possible stories of Jesus that our gospel writer could have picked, he highlights this one.
–But this is no mere parlor trick or slight of hand.
–There is something more going on here.
–Not only within the story, but within us.
–There is a part of our own sensibilities that struggles with this story and with its miracle.
–As we enter the 21st century, it would be easy to simply lay this aside as just a quaint story that has nothing to do with our lives or our sense of reality.
–This idea has been furthered with the rise of a certain voice within science that seems to push such stories into the realm of myth and legend.
–And accompanying such a voice, particularly in the last two hundred years, has been the effort to demythologize the Bible, to strip away the miraculous from the Bible.
–Perhaps you have heard of a group called the “Jesus Seminar.”
–They are a group of scholars who got together some years ago and decided that they would vote on which parts of the Bible were the most likely to be true.
–To declare what Jesus really said or did.
–So they went through the gospels, verse by verse, and voted using different colors to represent differing levels of what was more true or not.
–After their work, they ended up with a multicolored N.T. that would put our red and blue election maps to shame.
–At the end, there was little left but the most mundane events of Jesus’ life and the most cryptic sayings of Jesus that they figured must have been true.
–For the scholars of the Jesus Seminar, they had removed what seemed unnecessary.
–In a way, they were trying to save Jesus, to save God from superstition.
–But in the end, they ended up with not a more pure and holy gospel, but rather a gospel full of holes.
–Now up to this point, we have focused on the miracle of water becoming wine, but if this is our only focus then we miss what is perhaps the most important point of our gospel: in the beginning the jars are empty.
–The jars are not simply full of water, waiting for Jesus to turn this water into something else.
–There is nothing in the jars. They are dry and parched.
–If we are honest with ourselves, we would recognize ourselves in the story.
–We are those empty jars in Cana.
–And there are times in our life when we recognize this truth.
–Perhaps after the breakup of a relationship.
–Or the loss of a loved one.
–Laid off from a job.
–Caught in cycle of an addiction that never quite satisfies.
–We spend a lifetime trying to fill these jars with stuff, with careers and possessions and relationships, but in the end there is only one person who can fill our emptiness.
–It is the one who created us and who loved us enough to die for us.
–It is the living God, our Lord.
–A God who not only fills us with life, but miraculously creates us anew.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
–If we start with a cross and a resurrection, then we are forced into a few things.
–If Christ was raised from the dead, what is it to God to turn water into wine?
–If Christ was raised from the dead, what is it to God to turn you and me from our addictions, our destructive behavior, our lack of love for those around us?
–What is it to God to raise us to new life in him and at the last trumpet raise us all from the dead?
–The same God, creator of the universe is still at work.
–The same spirit that hovered over the waters of an uncreated world hovers over us now.
–Water into wine.
–Unbelief into faith.
–Death into life.
–Indifference into love.
–Jesus is the Word, the instigator, the change-agent that re-creates creation.
–In God’s image.
–We are the new wine.