Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sermon for 1/16/11—Second Sunday After Epiphany (LSB 1-year)

“Do Something!”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The weeks after Christmas are often a real downer. The excitement of the holidays is over. We’ve replayed the story of the Christmas miracle in our minds, and it’s a wonderful event. But now that the holiday season is over, where is the next miracle? Or as we might ask today: What have you done for me lately? For us, the season of Christmas has been over for about two weeks—or since Christmas day, if we’re honest with ourselves. But for Mary, the Mother of our Lord, Christmas been over for some thirty years now. Yes, she pondered in her heart all that she had seen and heard. She remembered the strange visit from the angel Gabriel as he announced to her that she would give birth to the Son of God. For thirty years Mary had watched and waited. She had watched as her little boy grew up and matured into manhood. Now He is an adult. Where is the fulfillment of all that the angel had told her concerning her Son? Our text gives us the impression that Mary is anxious, maybe even impatient with her Son at this wedding feast. "They have no wine." While not a direct request, these words surely imply that Jesus should do something about it. Is it not time for Jesus to make it clear that He is the Messiah who has come to fulfill these promises of God?

We’ve all been there. “Jesus? Don’t you see all these hungry children? Do something!” “Jesus? She’s dying of cancer. Do something!” “Jesus? She brought up that same old topic again. Do something!” “Jesus? The weather is bad, and the grain isn’t growing like it should. Do something!” “Jesus? The World Trade Center. Do something!” “Jesus? I’m all alone here. Do something!” We all have the needs which we feel Jesus must meet immediately. Though we pray, “Thy will be done”, it’s all to easy to say to the Lord, “My will be done—what I want, when I want, how I want.”

Jesus responds to Mary—and to us: "What does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." Mary was concerned about the lack of wine and the embarrassment that it would surely cause for bridal couple. Indeed, Jesus will momentarily provide wine for this wedding feast, but His concern reaches beyond this wedding to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, the marriage which will be formed by His death on the cross. That is the hour "which has not yet come." It is for that "hour" that Mary must wait.

But in the meantime, Jesus does something. He tells the servants to fill six stone pots with water. Then He tells them to draw out a sample and take it to the steward of the feast. They do as Jesus says. And the steward is surprised—so surprised, in fact, that he calls the bridegroom in and says to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then that which is inferior; but you have kept the good wine until now." This seems all backwards. The usual practice is to serve the fine wine first. Never was there wine like this wine!

Isn’t this how it always is? God does something . . . but it’s not what we expected, or it’s not according to our timetable. We have our eyes on instant gratification; God has His eyes set on the bigger picture, using the little things to show us the biggest thing, which is the reality that He is the Son of God and the Savior promised to the world.

The miracle in our text is what John calls the "beginning of signs." That is, there would be more. The sick would be healed. The blind would see. The dead would be raised. And finally the One who does these signs will be lifted up on the cross to die and on the third day be raised again. None of the miracles or "signs" as John calls them in his Gospel can be understood apart from Jesus' cross and resurrection. Signs point away from themselves to that which they signify. Jesus' signs point to who He is and the work that He has come to do.

It is not coincidental that Jesus performs His first sign at a wedding feast. Throughout the Bible God describes His relationship with His Church in terms of marriage. In Isaiah God says, "as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so I will rejoice over you." Many of our Lord's parables compare His kingdom to a marriage feast. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5 that the marriage of man and woman is a picture of the love that our Heavenly Bridegroom, Christ Jesus, has for His holy bride, the Church. The Bridegroom came to marry us to Himself. He came to take away our sin and dress us in the wedding gown of His perfect righteousness, so that, as Paul says, "He might present [His bride] to Himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."

Our Lord has done something. The hour of His glory was Good Friday. There on the cross He suffered and died to divorce us from our sins and make us His for time and eternity. What seemed like the hour of defeat was actually the hour of triumph. The miracle at Cana anticipates the cross where the Messiah pours out His own blood as the new wine of forgiveness, life, and salvation. By that blood He has made us to be His holy bride and called us to the marriage feast of the Lamb. The marriage feast at Cana points to the salvation our Lord won for us by His suffering and death. And from there, the marriage feast at Cana points us to this marriage feast between Jesus and His holy Bride, the Church—this holy marriage feast upon which we will be fed this morning by the blessing and generosity of the Bridegroom Himself.

When you wonder if God is in control, when you question His way of doing things, when you are tempted to scream, “Jesus, DO SOMETHING!”—look to the miracle of Cana; look to the miracle of the cross; look to the miracle of your Baptism; look to this holy Feast—for in these things you will see that God does do something. Indeed, He does everything for His people. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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