Second Sunday after the Epiphany [c] January 16, 2022
1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 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 10 and said to him, “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.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
In the Name of Jesus.
Who is Jesus to you? Who is Jesus to the Church?
We would quickly say he’s God the Son. Or he’s the Incarnate One—God in the flesh. We would quickly say he’s our Lord. Our Savior. He’s the crucified One, the resurrected One. All that would be true.
Jesus gives signs and miracles to show the sinner who he is to the sinner.
That Almighty God comes in the flesh is not yet good news to the sinner. God might be coming in the flesh only to confront the sinner, to judge, to condemn. Really, if you’re a sinner, the closer God comes to you the more frightening it is. After all, if you’re driving 80 miles an hour in a 35 mph zone, you’re not very concerned with the police officer having coffee on the other side of the river. But if that same officer is closer, just around the corner, you plenty frightened as you speed down the road.
That God comes in the flesh, that he comes close to you, is not yet good news. Really, you should be frightened. He’s holy. You’re not.
Jesus uses miracles to show who he is to the sinner. The miracle of leprosy turned to healthy skin—Jesus is the one who bringing health and life. The miracle of a deaf man made to hear—Jesus is the One who brings the word bestowing all the gifts of God. The miracle of a child raised up from the dead—Jesus is the One who does not desire the sinner die, but who brings the defeat of death.
Jesus uses miracles to reveal who he is to the sinner. And the first of his miracles, John tells us, is Jesus turning water into wine in Cana.
What is Jesus revealing to the sinner, to us? That he has power over the elements? That he changes the molecules of a liquid?
That reveals not much to us. Not much, really, except that he is true God with all power. But to the sinner, that’s not really good news, not yet anyway. Really, it’s the most frightening news of all. As a speeder on the road doesn’t want to be confronted by the police officer, the sinner has no desire to be confronted by Holy God. Maybe better if God would just make himself distant, far-removed, like the police officer far away, on the other side of the river.
But John tells us that this changing of water into wine is the first of Jesus’ miracles, his signs.
The word John uses for “first” here is not the numerical word. It’s the word meaning the source of something, the origin or fount. It’s that thing from which all the rest originate and are understood.
So for Jesus to be turning water into wine as the first or the origin of all his other signs and miracles is that we are to understand all the others in light of this one, flowing from this one.
Jesus turns water into wine. What does that give us to know of our Lord? It gives us to know, obviously, that he has all power. But to the sinner, that is not yet good news.
At the time of Jesus, the wedding wine was supplied by the groom. That’s why when the master of the feast tasted this new wine, he called the groom and said to him,
“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.”
The master of the feast said that to the groom because everyone knows that the one supplying the wine at a wedding is the groom of that wedding.
What is Jesus doing when he turns water to wine? He’s revealing himself as the groom. Not the groom of that marriage, of course. That marriage belonged to that bride and groom married on that particular day in Cana.
But Jesus is the groom proclaimed by the prophets. Isaiah 62:5:
… As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
Our Savior God reveals himself to be as a young man marrying a bride and rejoicing over her.
Our Savior God is saying to the sinner, I am your groom. I want to be your husband. I want to love you and cherish you as a new groom loves and cherishes his bride on the day of the wedding feast.
Our Savior God gathers sinners together by his Gospel, calls them to himself by his Gospel, and he takes the sinners, you and me and our fellow sinners, and names us His Bride.
We are not his bride on our own, each of us separate. But he announces us his bride as he binds us together with one another in the oneness of his Church.
Our Savior God has his bride, and it is the Church.
Jesus, in making the wine, announces himself the groom, for the groom supplies the wine. He announces himself the Savior God who is gathering his bride to himself and publicly presenting her, the Church, in all her splendor, as he loves and cherishes her, cleansing her with his own blood.
So John tells us this is the first of Jesus’ signs, it is the font or source by which we are to understand Jesus’ other works.
When we see Jesus cleansing a leper, this is the groom gathering that leper into his bride, the Church.
When we see Jesus speaking kindness to the woman at the well, this is the groom gathering her into his bride the Church.
When we see Jesus rebuking Peter when Peter tells him not to go to the cross, Jesus is the groom gathering Peter into his bride, the Church.
When we hear Jesus speaking forgiveness to us when we are despairing in our sin, Jesus is our groom, gathering us into his bride the Church.
When we hear the Gospel proclaiming that our lives depend not upon our own improvement or worthiness, but upon Jesus justifying us by his Word, this is Jesus, making us his bride.
And when we see a fellow Christian in doubt and we speak the comforting word of Gospel to him or her; when we are with a brother or sister in Christ and we remind them that in affliction they belong to the Lord and his Gospel, when we are drawn into speaking the encouragement of the Gospel to one in need, there we find Jesus using even our voices to gather his bride to himself.
So we look at Jesus making the water into wine, and in that we see not Jesus trying to show he has all power. Of course he does. He’s true God, God Incarnate, God in the flesh. But power’s not the big deal.
Rather, we see something much more wonderful. We see the Lord announcing himself to be the groom who will die for our sins and will gather us into his Church and will cleanse his Church with his own blood, to present his Church as his bride without any spot or wrinkle.
And we rejoice, as a bride rejoicing at her wedding feast.
In the Name of Jesus.