January 20, 2019 [Epiphany 2]  John 2:11-12  J.D.Roekle

Three days later, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. 2Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.

3When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.”

4Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My time has not come yet.”

5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6Six stone water jars, which the Jews used for ceremonial cleansing, were standing there, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. 8Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” And they did.

9When the master of the banquet tasted the water that had now become wine, he did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew). The master of the banquet called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have had plenty to drink, then the cheaper wine. You saved the good wine until now!”

11This, the beginning of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

 

God’s Hidden Help

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

          Where in the world is God?  Have you ever wondered that?  Even for a fleeting moment?  After all, we all have doubts.  Those doubts are often fed by voices from the outside.  Voices which try to convince you God isn’t real, otherwise “he wouldn’t let this or that happen.”  But there is a voice inside that also feeds the uncertainty.  Our sinful flesh continues to war against us and wear us down. 

          Even John the Baptist experienced this.  Remember that John was the one who had the special privilege of pointing out that Jesus was the Messiah, the one anointed to do the work of God.  The one anointed to be our Savior.  John pointed to Jesus and said to his disciples: “Look!  The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”  John knew how great Jesus was, since he said he wasn’t even worthy to unstrap his sandal.  When Jesus came to John to be baptized, he knew things were reversed.  Jesus should be the one to baptize John!  Of course, Jesus had a purpose in being baptized, but that’s beside the point.  The point is, that John knew very clearly that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.  This was his God-appointed work to point this fact out!  This is what John did for a living, so to speak. 

          And yet, we hear John saying late in his life: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Doesn’t that sound like a little bit of an echo of the question: “Where in the world is God?”?  These are striking words coming from John.  And yet, when you realize what was happening at the time, you should be able to understand it.  John was on death row.  He was about to be executed by Herod.  His faith needed to be bolstered, and Jesus did just that by reassuring John through his disciples. 

          Why would John have those doubts?  For one, he wasn’t able to see Jesus, since John was in a jail cell.  But more than that, when John did see or think of Jesus, think about what his eyes or mind told him.  Jesus is a pretty ordinary person.  He knew his mother and earthly father.  There was nothing extraordinary about Jesus.  He was a normal looking person.  In other words, the true nature of Jesus, the Son of God, was hidden.  And today, we want to see that this is often a characteristic of God and his Son: that he is hidden.  And just as he is hidden, sometimes the help that he extends to us is hidden too. 

          Jesus and some of his newly called disciples find themselves at a joyous event.  They’ve been invited to a wedding.  But there’s a snag in the wedding celebration.  That’s not uncommon, is it.  If you’ve planned a wedding, inevitably something occurs that might make the bride or groom anxious.  Some detail is forgotten.  Something unplanned happens.  Some people that RSVP’d don’t come, or more people come than expected. 

The problem in Cana was that they’ve run out of wine.  That raised a potentially embarrassing situation for the wedding couple.  But then Jesus intervenes.  Jesus does the unexplainable and somehow changes water into wine.  He simply had the servants at the banquet put water into 6 large stone jars, each with the capacity to hold 20 to 30 gallons.  He told the servants to draw some out of the stone jars and take it to the master of the banquet, the one who was in charge of making sure that all the details were covered.  When he tasted it, he remarked to the bridegroom that this was not just some cheap wine that you get for $5 a bottle.  This was some expensive tasting wine.  This was some good stuff. 

          We marvel at the miracle.  After all, this wasn’t some kind of trick.  Remember that when a magician does a trick, there’s an explanation behind it as to how he did.  Now, a good magician doesn’t reveal his secrets, but nonetheless, he somehow fooled your eyes. 

          The nature of a miracle is such that there is no trick involved.  What you see happening, actually happened.  The water actually turned into wine.  What that means then is that there is power behind the action.  And that power can only have one source.  It must come from God. 

          That is what Jesus is beginning to reveal to those around him, especially his disciples.  That is actually what the season of Epiphany is all about.  Jesus continuing to reveal himself.  Just think how necessary that was from the start.  Jesus didn’t appear with a glorious splash at all.  In fact, he was born into this world just as any of us are, but even more humbly than most children are born.  If it weren’t for the angels getting the shepherds’ attention, and the Wise Men bringing their extravagant gifts, Jesus’ birth would have looked like any ordinary birth.

          What this means is that the Son of God hid himself.  He cloaked himself in human flesh, and concealed himself in the tiny town of Bethlehem and then lived in the northern part of Israel in the region of Galilee.  In fact, the place where he lived, Nazareth, didn’t necessarily even have a good reputation or at least wasn’t thought of as any place where somebody great would come from.  When one of Jesus’ disciples was first hearing about him, he responded: “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”  Because Jesus, the Son of God, was hidden, he needed to be revealed.  People needed to come to know that he was the one who had come to save. 

          By doing this miracle then, he was confirming to his disciples that he truly was the Messiah.  His miracle was a sign that he was indeed God.  And what was the end result? “He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.”  The disciples’ confidence that this indeed was the one sent by God the Father was strengthened. 

          Jesus’ ability to turn water into wine is also designed to strengthen your trust in Jesus.  It is another evidence of the truth that Jesus is both true God and true man with the ability to rescue us from our sins.  It should affirm to us that Jesus is who said he was.  He is truly God! 

          But there’s a detail in our text that doesn’t seem to get much attention.  I don’t want us to miss it since it does teach us a lesson.  John writes: “When the master of the banquet tasted the water that had now become wine, he did not know where it came from.”  The Bible makes a point of saying that the servants knew, but the master of the banquet didn’t.  Now at first glance it may seem like it isn’t a very important detail. 

          But think about what that says about Jesus.  He helps us even when we aren’t aware that he is there.  He helps us even when we doubt him.  In fact, we can sometimes be completely oblivious to his help.  We might wonder where in the world is God, but he is there in the person of Jesus faithfully working behind the scenes.

          This church is not here by mistake.  Jesus had a hand in planting in as he faithfully sends his Spirit to work through his Word.  When that Word works in the hearts of people it creates or strengthens faith that goes into action. 

          Yes, God’s hidden help comes to us through the means of grace.  Through the Gospel working through normal looking things.  Through the book we call the Bible.  Through words from that Bible connected with water.  Through words from that Bible connected with bread and wine.  There we receive the hidden help of God as we also receive the body and blood of Christ hidden behind the bread and wine. 

          How often in your daily lives is God’s hidden help there as he works through people who assist you.  People who are moved by the Holy Spirit to follow out Christ’s command to love him and love their neighbor.  People who do unexpected things or things that you aren’t even aware of.

          Don’t take it for granted that although God is hidden in many respects, he knows all that goes on in your life.  God is also aware of all the details.  And just as he rescued you by sending Jesus to live and die and rise for you, he is also working behind the scenes to help you take care of the details too.  Amen.