January 17, 2016 — Epiphany 2
Sermon Text — John 2:1-11
The Wine Has Arrived
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. John’s gospel account the second chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Jesus goes to a Wedding
The Lord has a taken a bride for Himself. Israel has a husband. At Sinai He pledged Himself to her with an everlasting love. “I will be your God and you shall be my people.” Sprinkled clean by the blood of the sacrifice, she answered, “We will do all that the Lord commands.” Yes, beloved the Lord has taken a bride for Himself. Israel has been bathed in the promises of Her God and Lord.
It is the third day. And all were in great expectation. John is not the Christ. But with finger outstretched and tongue loosed he prepares the way. Behold the bridegroom comes. It is the third day, the day of the Lord’s covenant with Israel, the day of the Lord’s victory over sin, death and hell. It is the third day, the day Jesus comes to a wedding. But our text isn’t so much about the wedding itself as it is about the one who comes to the wedding. Jesus has arrived. The Heavenly bridegroom is here. His beloved awaits Word of His arrival. It is His Word that lays claim to her heart. It is His Word that she clings to and hopes in. It is His Word in which she abides. It is His Word that sustains her while she serves, while she suffers, while she prepares for her nuptials joy. Yes beloved, it is the third day and Jesus arrives at the wedding. It is the day Israel has been waiting for. It is the day, humanity has longed for. It is the day the messiah manifest’s His glory and works His Wonders that we may believe and by believing have life in His name.
They Have No Wine
But there is a problem. “They have no wine.” While our translations imply that the host has run out of wine, the text never mentions “running out” but only “lacking” wine. Could it be that they never had any wine? Could it be that the celebration began too soon, before the wine arrived? We are told of many and various persons at this wedding. There is Jesus, of course – the only one who is Named. Then there is the mother of Jesus, Jesus’ disciples, servants and a master of the feast. We never hear of the bride nor the bridegroom, no friends of the bride, and no friends of the bridegroom. Could it be that they are not there? That the celebration has begun without them? That the guests did not wait?
We who have been invited to the wedding of the Lamb are an impatient bunch. Content with our stone jars half full of water we design our own preparations for the Lord’s appearing and we find that we are still lacking. The jars are not full. Hearts are not clean. The Law of God condemns us, demands more of us, and leaves us like these stone jars – hardened hypocrites and full of false securities and trivial pieties. We wash ourselves on the outside but inside we’re like whitewashed tombs. We go through the motions we’ve contrived assuming that such things are pleasing to God. We’ve gathered with friends and family. We’ve put on our best dressed life and rushed the dance floor, joining the world’s insatiable appetite for leisure and entertainment.
Thus we neglect our vocations, live for the weekend, and chase after the next fun thing. Thinking that this is all there is, that the bridegroom is delayed for who knows how long, we indulge ourselves. We serve our bellies. We make provisions for the flesh. We build our granaries and store up our goods. We keep to ourselves and neglect our neighbors. We make every attempt to gladden our hearts but hearts steeped in sin can know only sorrow, guilt, and shame. We are sick with sin. Hearts are deformed. We are thoroughly and shamefully sordid and by our behavior it is evident that we wallow in our sins. There is no wine because we have yet to behold the bridegroom. There is no wine, because the one given charge of bringing the wine has only just now arrived. There is no wine . . . yet.
Full to the Brim
For it is the third day and Jesus has come to the wedding. The time for cleansing has come. The stone jars will not do. The water is insufficient. The Law cannot save you. You cannot wash yourself, redeem yourself, save yourself. Thus the Savior’s Word. “Fill the jars to the brim.” He speaks and it happens. This is the Work of our bridegroom. What is lacking He provides. What is necessary He accomplishes. There is no cleansing without the shedding of blood. There is no covenant without the blood of sacrifice. There is no wedding without the Chuppa, the wedding cloth. Blood is the mark of mercy. Blood is the seal of God’s promises. Blood is the sign of His union with His bride. Thus the jars are filled to the brim even as Christ and His righteousness has fulfilled the Law in its entirety. Nothing is lacking for Israel’s nuptials. Nothing is lacking for Humanity’s redemption. Nothing is lacking for your salvation. What was in the jars is no more. What is in the jars is by the glory of Christ. As He fills the Jars so He fills the Laws demands for you. Fulfilling the Law for you He also empties Himself for you. To give you His righteousness He must take your sins. Taking your sins He takes the penalty for your sins. The wages of sin is death. You and I, we, deserve death because of our sin, not just temporal death but eternal death in hell. But we don’t die, not forever because in our place is our bridegroom. Jesus steps forward. He offers Himself. He bears the accusations. He suffers the sordid consequences. He is crucified. He is dead. He is buried. And the necessary blood for our redemption is poured out. On the cross Jesus pledges Himself eternally to you and me and all who would be saved.
Through the cross He draws all people to Himself that they might stand beneath His passion and be bathed in the blood and water that pour from His side. For He is rent asunder in order to cleanse your heart, renew your mind, and resurrect your body with a resurrection like His. Remember, it is the third day. What happens on the third day has eternal consequences. What happens on the third day is given for your salvation. What happens on the third day is that Jesus turns water into wine, sinners into saints, the dead are quickened back to life, the bride is bathed in blood, and her handmaidens sing and dance and rejoice at the sound of the bridegroom’s advent.
The Best Wine
What is given in our text is given to you. “For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the Water and the blood. And these three agree.” (I John 5:7-8). Their testimony is true because they give testimony to Jesus. Jesus is the bridegroom. The Church is His bride. He has loved her, loved you, with an everlasting love. And though you have been unfaithful, though you have indulged in the pleasures of this world, though you have sullied yourself with others, with sin, He has not forsaken you. He has sent His servants to draw from the well of salvation and offer you the wine of gladness. Here, in this place, Jesus manifests His glory and offers you good wine, the best wine, the only wine that will save you. This is the gospel and it is power of God unto salvation. His salvation not some esoteric emotional experience. It is not something you need to create or realize within yourself. It’s not about your self-esteem, self-image, or self-help. No, this is all about Jesus, what Jesus has done. What Jesus says. What Jesus offers and what Jesus gives through real tangible things, elements, like water, bread and wine, and the voice of a pastor. These can be heard with the ears, felt on the tongue and the lips, seen with the eyes. These are certain because they have the Word of the bridegroom. And we who would be His beloved bride are given to heed these words, to do whatever He commands, that He would be our God and we would be His people.
The Bride Receives Her Bridegroom (the disciples believed)
Beloved in the Lord, it is the third day and the bridegroom has come to the wedding. Jesus is here and brings with Him pleasures eternal. He has filled what is lacking, provided what is necessary, offered what is eternal, manifested the glory He has with the Father. The bride draws near Her bridegroom not by sight but by faith. The disciples believed in Jesus and in so doing the bride received her bridegroom. You are to draw to Jesus by faith. Faith comes by hearing thus you are to be led to Jesus through your ears. Pay no heed to what the eyes behold. Let not the passion of His heart be a stumbling block. Hear Him. Heed Him. Do whatever He commands you. Be washed in His baptism. Receive His absolution. Eat and drink the body and blood of the Lord. It is the third day. It is the day of the bridegroom’s appearing. It is the day He joins Himself to His bride, to you. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!