Saturday, January 16, 2010

Epiphany 2: A Devotional Commentary

John 2:1-11 The third day, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what is that to you and me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he tells you to do, do it.” Now, six water jars made of stone were set there, meant for the rites of purification of the Jews, and they each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water!” So they filled them up to the brim. He then said to them, “Now, draw some out, and take it to the chief steward of the feast;” and they did so. When the chief steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine (not knowing where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and after the guests have drunk freely, the inferior one. But you have kept the good wine until now!” This, the beginning of his signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

On the third day God brought forth plants and vegetation and trees from the earth to feed man by speaking the Word. In this Gospel reading, on the third day the Word provides wine for man by speaking the Word. Jesus shows that He is no ordinary man but God Himself. Jesus doesn't just produce some bargain grocery store wine. Jesus makes the very best wine simply by saying it. Just as God the Father spoke the Word and created a mature earth, so God the Son turns water into a mature wine simply by saying it.

This wedding was not held in Jerusalem in the land of the Jews but in Cana of Galilee in the land of the Gentiles. And the mother of Jesus was there. John never refers to Jesus' mother as Mary in his Gospel. Instead, out of respect, John refers to her in regards to the great blessed calling that God gave her. He calls her the mother of Jesus. What greater blessing could any person receive than to bear the Christ?

Mary demonstrates her faith in Jesus. She tells Jesus that all the wine is gone. She says no more but Jesus knows what she's getting at. Jesus knows that Mary knows that Jesus is more than capable of creating wine. Jesus had not performed any miracles up to this point but the mother of Jesus remembers the words spoken to her by God through the angel Gabriel. Jesus calls His mother "woman" which was a term of respect but a rather odd thing to call your Mom. He is identifying His mother as the new Eve. She stands as the representative and mother of the church because she is the obedient mother of Jesus who is the new Adam. The church is called to put all of her trust in Christ even when it looks like everything is going wrong. Jesus tells His mother that the lack of wine is none of His business and it shouldn't be any of her business either because His hour has not yet come. What hour is He talking about? The hour of His glorification--the hour of His crucifixion when all the law would be fulfilled by Him. But Mary neither nags Jesus nor does she give up. She still believes that Jesus will provide the wine and so she tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.

Jesus instructs the servants to fill six jars with water. These were not just any jars. These were jars which were used for Jewish purification ceremonies. And there were six of them. Under the Old Testament law, all work was to be done in six days. Just as the jars were made of stone, the law was written on stone tablets. The jars were empty. The jars were empty and useless by themselves just as our good works and attempts to keep the law are empty and useless when trying to please God.

Everything in this miracle points forward to the crucifixion of Christ. Just as there were six jars, on the sixth day of the week Jesus was crucified on the cross for your sins. He kept and fulfilled the law as the second Adam. Jesus spoke the Word and turned the water into wine. In the Lord's Supper Jesus gives us His blood that is shed for us in the wine. Through the water of baptism you have been washed in the blood of Christ. Jesus produced between 120 and 180 gallons of wine. There was plenty to go around. Jesus blood is more than enough to pay for all your horrible sins and all your horrible self-righteousness. Jesus is more than capable of giving His body and blood to all who partake at the Lord's Supper. He is more than capable of giving them to you. As interesting and exciting as it may have been to be there and see Jesus turn the water of into wine, think of how much more wonderful it is to receive the miracle of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament.

The jars were filled with water and then the water was turned into wine. In John's Gospel after Jesus is crucified, John draws attention to the fact that when the soldiers pierced Jesus' side blood and water flowed out. In his first epistle John says that there are three that our faith is based on the testimony of three witnesses--the Spirit, the water, and the blood. Christ continues to work salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit in the waters of holy baptism and his body and blood in the Lord's Supper.

This miracle at the wedding feast points us forward to the heavenly feast that we will partake of when Christ returns at the wedding feast of the Lamb and the church. All false religions serve the good wine first--earthly prosperity and success. The Gospel saves the best for last. The best was not given through Moses but comes to you in Jesus Christ. Throughout this life you will partake of the bad and vile wine but your bridegroom is coming and bringing the best wine.

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