Power and Mercy
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
So often we focus on the power of the miracle our Lord performed at the wedding in Cana. But there’s another aspect: the great mercy our Lord shows for the people He has come to save, even in dealing with something so simple as a wine shortage at a wedding. We must take both the power and the mercy into account as we examine this text.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law. He began that fulfillment with His circumcision in the Temple and His baptism in the Jordan River. Then He continued that work with His first miracle of changing water into wine. Notice what He uses: the purification jars of the Jews—water pots of the law. He has them filled with water, and from them He produces the finest wine. Here we are reminded that the Law was given to be fulfilled by our Lord Jesus Christ because we could not keep it. Just as Mary could not make things better for the bridal party by herself, we cannot do ourselves any good by our attempts to keep the Commandments.
But some people seem to think that we can keep the Law. There are preachers who say, “God wouldn't have given us His commandments if we couldn't keep them.” But that contradicts St. Paul who says in Galatians chapter three that the Law was given to show us our sin. When Jesus has those jars filled with ordinary water and turns that water into wine, He's teaching us that He has come to do what we could not: He has come to keep the Law. He has come to perfectly love God. He has come to perfectly love His neighbor. And He did both…perfectly.
And what is the result of His perfect fulfillment of the Law? The wedding guests drank and were merry! They found themselves at the best ever open bar at a wedding! This miracle is a picture of what our Lord really does for us by dying for our sins: He fulfills the Law. He perfectly loves the Father by being obedient even unto death on the cross. He perfectly loves His neighbor by bearing our sins to His own death: a death He did not deserve, a death He died for us. And we drink in that perfect love, that perfect salvation, in the holy Sacrament, where in the wine we drink the very blood of Christ.
The miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine is also a reminder that what Christ has done on the cross of Calvary is also about how He treats His holy Bride, the One Holy Christian and Apostolic Church. Just as Cana’s wedding reception took the bridal party from ordinary water to the finest wine in celebration of their marriage, so Christ's church is made alive in the waters of Holy Baptism, and then she celebrates that He has redeemed her through His body and blood in the Holy Supper. Remember this: you are the Bride of Christ. You are the ones for whom He gave His life. You are the ones for whom He turned the jars of God's Law into a saving and refreshing drink of grace, even as He Himself fulfilled that Law.
This is the first of the signs that Jesus did, and it points to Him as the true Savior and Bridegroom of the Church. And just as this miracle pointed forward to the institution of the Lord’s Supper where we receive the finest wine of Christ’s blood along with His body, both the miracle and the Holy Supper are a foretaste of the eternal wedding feast prepared for all those who approach the Lord with faith in His Word, His works, and His promises. 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.