Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sermon: Epiphany 2 – 2017

15 January 2017

Text: John 2:1-11 (Amos 9:11-15, Romans 12;6-16)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

We tend to treat the miracle at Cana as Jesus sort-of warming up with a small miracle, a kind of teaser for the really big stuff to come.  After all, in the grand scheme of things, what’s the big deal if wine runs out at a wedding?  Sure, there would be some immediate embarrassment, but at the end of the day, the couple would be married and life would go on.  

But let’s not forget that what Jesus did at Cana was to override the laws of physics and nature.  What our Lord did to the big stone jars of water was the equivalent of splitting atoms.  Jesus took one substance, and by His command, changed the chemical process of that substance into something else.  It is a mighty act of God.

We say it in the creed, that Jesus is the one: “by whom all things were made.”  And this is the great mystery of our Lord’s incarnation: He is positioned within the creation that He created, acting within the universe that He controls at will.  No-one had ever seen such a miracle.  And the purpose of this miracle is to bring joy, to assure delight, to celebrate the beauty of the institution of marriage that Jesus also built into the fabric of human life itself.

And before sin came to the world, wine could not be abused.  It is a joyful and delightful substance – one that is promised to again be perfect: at the end of time – when God will truly keep the best for the last.  The prophet Amos calls to mind this eternal sinless world as “the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow from it.”

The master of the feast at Cana could tell the difference.  This was the “good wine” – the finest, that which is normally reserved to be served first.  For even as creation before the Fall was perfect, so too is our eternal destiny.  And this eternal existence has nothing to do with spirits floating around in heaven, but rather a flesh and blood restored paradise – a new earth, as the prophet says: “they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them, they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.”

This is the eternal life that Amos prophesies, and that Jesus delivers.  It is a life of fertile fields, of perfect fruits grown in perfect gardens, of the good wine that, at this time, is treated as a commodity to be prized and rationed, but in eternity, will be common, and will drip from the very mountains.

Jesus has come into our world to deliver perfection – from the big to the small, from world peace and a renewed existence without predators and without death, as well as a world without mealy apples, without dried up oranges, without bitter beer, and without sour wine.  Jesus is turning our scarcity into abundance.  He is transforming our mediocre, and our broken and bitter, into something spectacular and glorious – all by His restorative work in our midst in His very flesh and blood.

Our Lord’s first miracle was at a wedding, even as the first man and first woman were united in Holy Matrimony.  Jesus has come to us as the Bridegroom: strong, loving, protective, and withholding nothing from His Bride, not even His life on the cross and the shedding of His blood as a sacrifice.  And we, as His Bride, come to Him in joyful and willing submission, honoring and respecting Him as our merciful God and as our perfect Man in the flesh who has been sent to rescue us and bring us into perfect communion, like a perfect glass of wine – sweet, smooth, delivering joy, and offered in love and hospitality.

The Lord Jesus has truly saved the best for the last: the wine that is truly His blood: the same blood offered on the cross, the blood which cries out to the Father to avenge us for the evil brought upon us by Satan, the blood which pays the horrific price of our guilt, the blood of the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, the blood which restores life to us, even as those stone jars at Cana, dripping with sweet wine, restored joy to the wedding feast.

For when we receive the wine of the Lord’s blood, we receive a preview, a little taste of eternity, of the prophecy of Amos, of the perfect vineyard yielding perfect juice of the grape, perfectly aged into perfect wine.  We receive this not by virtue of the wine itself, dear friends, but by the Word of Christ – the same Word by whom all things were made.  This Word says: “This is My body… This is My blood… For the forgiveness of sins.”  This sacrament delivers the joy of the wedding feast, though we still live the fallen world, where wine can be too bitter or too sweet, and can be drunk in unhealthy quantities, and even in such a way as to destroy communion in marriages and families.

But we have the foretaste, dear friends, a little down-payment on the eternal feast, even as the Lord delivered such a delightful sample to the wedding party at Cana.

In Cana, the people needed wine, and our Lord provided it in both quality and quantity.  The Lord is equally generous and diligent in that which He gives His bride today.  As St. Paul says: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

We all have different vocations in the kingdom, and by God’s grace, we can use them to serve the kingdom and to “live in harmony with one another.”

The miracle of the transformation of water into wine at Cana isn’t just an opening act – it is truly what the Lord has come to do: to bless marriage by being our Bridegroom, by taking the water that begins our life in the purification of baptism, bringing us to the altar, to partake of the wine that He offers us – His very own perfect blood.  Jesus is transforming the universe atom by atom, molecule by molecule, person by person, and even galaxy by galaxy, in a glorious reclamation and recreation so that we might live in perfection with God and with one another.

Yes indeed, while the world and our sinful flesh have only poor wine to offer, in the end, in Christ, in eternity, we have the very best served to us, the good wine, that has no end.  Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

No comments: