January 20, 2019 A+D
St. John 2:1-12; Psalm 66; Exodus 33:12-23
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Psalm 66 serves as our Introit today. It a Psalm about answered prayer. It begins with a call to praise God for His actions in history. He redeemed Israel and led her out of Egypt. It sees in those events God’s character. This what we can and should expect from Him. He is the God who saves.
Then it moves to prayer. The Psalm says:
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. 17 I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19 But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
The very next verse was in our Introit: “Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!”
We heard chapter 33 of Exodus this morning. Chapter 32 tells of Aaron and the golden calf and the intercession of Moses that spared the people. The verse that immediately precedes our reading reads thus:
“The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.”
In our reading Moses is saying: “Look, you gave me Aaron to go with me to Pharaoh. That worked out, but now look at what he has done. Are you going to send him with me to bring the people up or is there something going on here with Joshua the son of Nun?” Moses asks to know God’s ways. In response, God says “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” God is telling Moses “no.” He can’t know God’s ways. He might speak to Him as a friend, face-to-face, but they aren’t equals. Moses must live by faith. God promises to be with Moses and to give him rest. That has to be enough.
Then Moses gets even more bold. He says “Show me your glory.” Again God says “no.” I will show you my goodness. My glory would destroy you.
God did not reject Moses’ prayer. He simply gave him something different than what he asked for. If your toddler sees you eating jalapenos and asks for one you don’t reject her. You tell her no and give her something else. You recognize the need and desire, but you can see what would happen if you gave her a jalapeno.
At the wedding in Cana, Mary asks Jesus to do something about the lack of wine. Jesus tells her “no.” He then asks “what does this have to do with Me?” He means “nothing.” It doesn’t have anything to do with Him or His mission. He tells her why: His hour has not yet come. He will restore creation. His children will be free of sorrow. They will suffer no lack. There will be no lack of wine or food or friends. There will be no lack of health or faith or love. Their cups will overflow.
But not yet. First He must endure this fallen creation and know lack. He must go without faithful friends, without honor, without a place to lay His head. Despite His hardships and the abuse that He suffers, He will not sin. Then He must sacrifice Himself and suffer His Father’s wrath as our Substitute, Passover, and Scapegoat. There He will be glorified and draw all men to Himself. Then He will rise, establish the Ministry, and ascend into heaven. Then, after all of the elect are sealed in the waters of Holy Baptism, at last He will set loose the angel with the destructive winds and create new heavens and a new earth. But not yet.
Mary suffers the rebuke without comment. Likely she wasn’t meaning that He bring about the time of endless wine. She simply wants Him to do something for the moment. But she gets rebuke as though she asked for the moon to made out of cheese and given to her on a plate. It seems to me that she didn’t really know what she was asking. She was just complaining without thought. In any case, she accepts that her Son will restore the world and has come to be our Bridegroom in peace, to make us holy, to provide joy for us. But she doesn’t know what, if anything, He will do right then in Cana. So she tells the servants: “Do whatever He tells you.” There is no way for her to know what He will do. Given His response to her complaint it would seem likely that He would do something like tell the servants to start cleaning up and tell the people to go home. They have already drunk enough. And if that is the case, sobeit. Do whatever He tells you.
She is like a most unusual toddler. She asked for a jalapeno and saw her mother reach over the nachos to grab a piece of cauliflower. She is not fooled by the cauliflower. That is not what she asked for. But she does not throw a tantrum. She receives it gladly, with thanksgiving. That is highly unusual behavior for toddlers in this fallen world. Mary’s acceptance of the Our Lord’s rebuke and submission to His will is also highly unusual behavior for Christians – but not impossible. God’s grace does change and improve our fallen hearts. We do learn through the cross to trust in God.
Our Lord relented with St. Mary. He turned water into wine. He gave an abundance to people who didn’t deserve it or understand it and who almost certainly abused it. But central for us who live by faith is to see the example of Mary when she didn’t know what would happen but trusted that He loves her and the world.
When He says to her “My hour has not yet come,” she hears a promise. His hour had not yet come but it would. The day would come when Mary would be relieved of all social pressure and embarrassment, of loneliness and physical pain, of guilt and regret. His hour would come and He would make it her hour as well. Knowing this, knowing the goodness of Her Son, she was ready to suffer the “no.” Her prayer was not rejected. She will eat cauliflower happily and wait for the day of jalapenos that don’t burn or hurt.
Our hour not yet come. But it will and then there will be wine.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.