Epiphany 2 2006

Epiphany 2
John 2:1-11

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

This is Jesus’ story. He is always rescuing people.  His hour had not yet come there in Cana. But the countdown had begun. He had been given a death sentence in Jordon’s bloody waters and only had three years to live. Being baptized by John was not unlike being diagnosed with a terminal disease. So His time was short and then Mary came at Him with trivialities. The clock was ticking. His short ministry had started, the battle with the devil had been joined, and He was on His way to Jerusalem. But He only had five disciples.  He had a lot of work to do. He was not in Cana for pleasure. He was never anywhere for pleasure. He was there to serve, to fulfill the Law, to endure temptation, to suffer. What concern of it was His if some party wasn’t quite as spectacular as the planners had hoped?

So He turned her down. Cold. He said worst then “no.” He said He wasn’t interested. He didn’t care about what she cared about. And, yet Mary believed. A greater miracle, perhaps, than turning water into wine.

Lets review the events. Mary asked in a British sort of way for some help. She said: “They have no wine.” She could have hardly been more indirect. As far as prayers gos, it wasn’t very articulate. What she meant was: “Do something.” Well, He knew just what she meant. And despite appearances He does not ignore His beloved because of shyness or some strange sense politeness or fear or lack of adequate words. He hears the prayers of His children. He knows what they want. He knows what they need. And, most importantly, He knows what is good.

He answered Mary with directness, and maybe rudeness, worthy of an American: “What does your concern have to do with Me?” That is, “No.  I am busy.” Besides how trivial this was they were probably already drunk. They didn’t need more wine. Rare indeed is the man who needs more wine! Nor would have they appreciated it. And some of them would surely abuse it, get drunk. Who knows what evil would result from more wine. So whatever it was that Mary was hoping for, she was denied. Jesus did not offer to run to the liquor store. He did not commiserate about the sadness a poorly planned wedding and an embarrassed couple. He did not even bother to lecture her on moderation. He simply told her that her concern was beneath Him, her request trivial in the face of His looming betrayal, suffering, and death.

But her response to this rebuke couldn’t be better. She believed. Despite the rejection she believed that Jesus was good, that Jesus would help, that Jesus would rescue her and the couple in some way. Because that is what Jesus does. That is who Jesus is. This is His story. He is always rescuing people.  So despite the rejection she believes. She believes that nothing, nothing of her concern is outside of His concern, that no request she makes is trivial, and that He hears and answers her every prayer. With perfect faith she gives the servants the best advice the world has ever heard: “Do whatever He says.” And what a surprise He has in store.

He gives them wine like the world has never known. The volume is somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons of wine. That is it is somewhere between 600 and 900 bottles of the wine. As to the quality, we can only imagine, though we know it was better than the “good”wine the bridegroom provided at the beginning, the stuff used for their “champagne toast.” He gave them wine, good wine, and that an awful lot of it, more than they could have consumed in a single night. And so what if some was abused and some was wasted and some was thought to come from the bridegroom? God gives His gifts to me for them to enjoy them. He never gives His gifts in hopes we’ll attach a plaque and remember Him or  send a thank you note. He does not do these things for His pleasure, because it makes Him feel good to help. He does them for us, because we have need, because He would see us enjoy this life and make our hearts glad. He was not in Cana to enjoy Himself, He was there for the wedding, to give Himself, to give His blessing, and to provide wine, for this is what men need.

And to this day we rightly pray with Lady Israel, the blessed Mother of Our God: “They have no wine.” We pray: “This life is hard. I am sad. I am tired. I am weak and frustrated. I am mad. I wish, O God, I had a million dollars, a vacation home in Vail, a Ferrari, an Arabian ranch with rolling fields and white fences and a modest palace in which to live. I wish, O God, I was happier, more content, my husband was nicer, my job was easier, the traffic less dense. I wish, O God, there was more wine.”

And what does God say to our selfish prayer? It seems, more often than not, that He says “no” and nothing else, for we do not have these things. Doe He ignore us? No. He does not. He never ignores His beloved for whom He laid down His life. He will do what is good. He will do what is right. He will surprise you. Pray away, in boldness and confidence. Nothing is insignificant if it amuses you. And if He holds out for now do not despair. He holds it for you in heaven. You will find your heart’s desire there, even if it is as seemingly trivial as an X-box or a pony or an “A”  in math.

God is good. He knows what you want. He knows what you need. He is good and knows what is good. He will not fail. You will have wine, your heart will be glad. If not now in all the fullness you desire, then you will have it the Kingdom to come. In the meantime, while you wait, with the rebuke still in your ear, remember Mary’s charge. “Do whatever He says.” What He says is: “Take, eat. Drink ye all of it. Do this in remembrance of Me.” Eat the Body of Jesus. Drink His Blood. Hear the Word of absolution and have the balm of His resurrection applied generously to your heart. For this God of Life loves you. He sent His Son to be a Sacrifice to make you His. He raised Him and brought Him to His side to open heaven for all believers and He gives His Blood as wine to join you to Himself.

The servants know who turned the water into wine. The disciples believed. They know who is responsible for the joy and gladness, for the gifts enjoyed by men. It is the One marked for death who has no place to lay His head, who will not drink the fruit of the vine again until He drinks with us in His Father’s Kingdom. It is Mary’s unassuming Son, Jesus, Lover of our souls, who fulfilled the Scripture in their hearing. The servants know. The disciples believe. Let us be numbered among them.

In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.

3.785 liters/gallon X 1 bottle/.75 liters = 5 bottles / gallon
Pastor David Petersen

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