Published by Michael Bigg on Tue, 22 Jan 2019 13:33

(The text of Mike's sermon preached in Brampton on Sunday 20th Jan and based on John 2:1-11)

 

We’re in the season of Epiphany; the season of revelation. Two weeks ago we thought about Jesus being revealed as a light to the nations when the wise men visited the infant Jesus. Last week we thought about the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God at his baptism. Today we are invited to learn from what Jesus revealed of himself at that wedding feast in Cana.


It’s a great little story. There’s a wedding feast. Jesus and his disciples are all invited. Everyone’s invited! A wedding is a real village event and everyone is welcome from miles around. The feasting and celebration probably last for days, even a week.

And so, if the wine gives out it’s a social disaster. Wine is the standard mealtime drink (fermentation is a good way to make water safe to drink) and so people will be most unhappy if there’s no wine.

It’ll bring shame on the bride and groom (and their families) if the feasting ends because the wine has run out…

 

This is the scene in which Jesus starts to reveal himself, and the revelation starts at the outset. Mary has stepped in and brought the wine problem to Jesus’ attention. She’s knows he is special – perhaps she has known him to perform wonders at home. She doesn’t ask him outright to do anything, but just points out that the wine is gone.

 

His response seems harsh to English-speaking ears (although “Woman” was a standard form of address and should not be construed as rude). “What’s this got to do with me?”, he asks. His “hour” has not yet come. Mary seems to be presuming on her relationship with Jesus as his mother giving her special authority over him. Jesus corrects her – he acts on God’s authority and in God’s time.

We don’t know what happens next between Jesus and his mother (and God), but he relents and intervenes. He tells the servants to fill these 6 enormous water jars. I can imagine grumbles. It’s not a case of turning on the tap – we are looking at potentially having to draw 120 gallons of water from the well. It must have taken AGES.

 

John doesn’t bother recording what, if anything, Jesus did next, but simply states that when the servants drew out the water again it had become wine. 120 gallons of choice wine! Wow!

 

There’s loads to draw out of this story.

Firstly, the setting of Jesus first public act in John’s gospel is not something terribly dramatic (only a few people even know it’s happened). It’s a normal thing – a wedding with no more wine. Jesus is interested in relatively mundane, practical things as well as in life and death. I think that’s still true today. Later in John’s gospel Jesus says that he has come to bring life in all its fullness. Don’t think that Jesus doesn’t care about the details of your life; don’t think that anything is too little to bother him with. Jesus brings our concerns, large or small, before the heavenly throne and delights to do so.

Secondly, Jesus brings the amazing out of the ordinary. You can’t get much more ordinary and simple than water – yet Jesus transforms it into something amazing. Perhaps you don’t think that Jesus could do much with the humble raw material that your life has to offer.

This story says otherwise. Offer up the water of your life to Jesus and watch him transform it into the finest wine.

Thirdly, John doesn’t use the word “miracle”. John’s consistent word for Jesus mighty acts is “sign”. And what do signs do? They point to something. They indicate something. They are not an end in themselves. In this case, the sign points us to who Jesus is and, in response, his disciples believed in him. They saw the sign and put their trust in Jesus. What response does that sign provoke in you?

I think that we are all called to be “signs”, people pointing to Jesus and who he is. Maybe you could be a sign pointing to Jesus this week. Maybe you could be the person who refuses to condemn with the others. Maybe you could be the person who uses words of peace when others seek conflict.

 

Finally, the wedding setting is significant. These were such great parties that when early Christians were trying to envisage heaven, a wedding banquet was their best comparison. What we have to look forward to in heaven is the most extraordinary wedding feast as Christ is finally united with his bride, the church. Us. We will be served the finest food and wine. And we’ll get a foretaste as we gather around the Lord’s table for Holy Communion in a few minutes.

 

 

I don’t know about you, but when I receive Communion it’s a little moment of heavenly peace. It only lasts for a moment, but as we gather together around the table, young and old, male and female, we are united together in Christ in a way that we will fully enjoy in heaven. It is, in itself, a sign for others.

 

What a gift! Amen, come Lord Jesus.

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