Sunday, September 4, 2016

More Wine Please! (a sermon on John 2:1-11)

September 4, 2016        More Wine, Please! 

Love is not self-seeking 1 Corinthians 13:5b

John 2 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

2  On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.  Jesus’ mother  was there,  and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman,  why do you involve me?”  Jesus replied.  “My hour  has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing,  each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants,  “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,  “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so,  and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.  He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside  10  and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
11  What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory;  and his disciples believed in him.

We're continuing our series on the Practice of Love. The love portrayed in the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 is the love of God, a love that is essential, effective and eternal!

Love is not selfish...self-seeking, again we are to always put others ahead of ourselves. We honor others, being patient, kind and compassionate...that is one of the biggest keys to sharing love...putting yourself in the other's place.

Jesus is our model for this! He put others first, was compassionate, having such deep concern for others that he felt it deep inside! Yet he did it in a healthy way! He did take time for himself...he went off early in the morning to pray. He enjoyed a good meal with fact he enjoyed so much he was accused of being a drunk and a glutton!

Our gospel lesson is a familiar story! In fact there are jokes about it... there's the story of the minister who was stopped by a police officer for driving erratically. “I have to ask, have you been drinking?” “Nothing but water!” well I can smell wine and there's an empty bottle on the floor there...' Oh my goodness, He's done it again!”

This is the first miracle of Jesus. John's gospel calls these miracles 'Signs' and he tells these stories, along with Jesus' 'I Am statements” through which Jesus glory -the glory of God -is revealed, that we may believe!

John is telling the stories of these signs to establish the identity of Jesus as the Messiah, the one from God, who IS God, he was with God in the beginning...

the word here used for sign means a the sign or distinguishing mark by which something is known; (2) a miracle, (3) a portent or harbinger.

In the Hebrew Bible, what we know as the Old Testament, the word “Sign” means the same thing, with a visual imagery association of the mark left by a hand or a print in the sand...a hand print or fingerprints. John uses these Signs as a means to show the disciples' belief in Jesus and to help our belief and knowledge of Jesus the Son of God!

This is the wedding in Cana. Cana was a few miles, about a day's travel from Nazareth. In Galilee. There are some scholars who believe that the wedding was likely a family member...some relation of Jesus and his mother. The reason for this is that Jesus' disciples, who he has just started with, are also invited. It's got to be a fairly close relationship with the wedding couple for their families to have invited the 12 also! This makes sense to me, as it was Jesus Mother who gets the ball rolling. She comes to him and says they have no more wine. Now, was she saying “hey can you do something?” or was she saying, “oh my goodness, what a disaster” it would almost be scandalous to run out of wine at a wedding feast! Was she saying, well, time to go home? Or was she saying those fishermen friends of yours drank up all the wine?

Jesus answer, 'Woman, why do you involve me? --this sounds harsh to us! Let me clarify, Woman, here is a perfectly respectful form of address. It's as though he said Ma'am. He said repeatedly in Johns gospel, my hour has not yet come. Only in John chapter 17, his prayer just before his arrest, does he say “the hour has come” So when Jesus said “Woman why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come!” he may have been asking her sincerely, he may have been teasing her a bit!

And Mary says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” She may have been expecting them to make a quick trip to the next farm or vineyard to purchase some wine! Galilee was a wine-producing area! So they probably could have got more somewhat easily.

Jesus tells the servants to fill the six stone water jars. These are HUGE jars, they would have been filled by carrying smaller jars of water from a well to the big jars. The Jewish tradition was that one washed upon entering the banquet area. That there were six large jars indicated that this was a large gathering and also that the host family were well-off.

This is a story showing Jesus is indeed the One, the messiah, the son of God. It is also a story about God providing well, and with abundance! Not only was there suddenly more wine, but it was excellent wine! And there was a LOT of it! Enough to keep the celebration going for a long time. This is not to say that it is drunkeness is ok.. Jewish tradition actually is strongly against drinking to excess. Despite the rituals of the wine at sabbath and seder dinners, or perhaps because of it... wine is part of the meal, not a forbidden fruit, to be enjoyed but not abused!

There is more to the story. One of the ways we Practice love and do not live & act selfishly, is to step back a bit, think of the big picture. Imagine yourself IN the shoes of the other person. Which is what I think Jesus mother did here. She knew what a social disaster it would be for the host family. Jesus asked her why are you worried...and she was indeed not thinking of herself but of this family.

Symbolism in this story...marriage.. a covenant! A covenant is a binding agreement. The bible is the story of God's people forming a covenant to be in relationship with God. Then breaking that covenant, falling away, crying out to God in despair, and rejoining with God to covenant all over again. And God covenants with US promising that even when things are bad, God is always with us and that one day will be the perfect peace of God...

Jeremiah-- “The days are coming,” declares the  Lord,
        “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
        and with the people of Judah.
32  It will not be like the covenant
        I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
        to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
        though I was a husband  to  them,”
declares the  Lord.
33  “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
        after that time,” declares the  Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
        and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
        and they will be my people.

The Banquet, is the symbol of the ultimate triumph of God!
the feast at the end of times, (I Isaiah 25:6
The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,

both the prophets Joel and Amos spoke of new wine flowing after God triumphs and all of his people are freed.
these are prophecies from the time of the Babyloian Exile, but Hebrew people of Jesus time believed there would be an overthrow of the Roman oppression and there would then be a celebration!

And there are words of prophecy and comfort from even earlier times... from Jesus' ancestor David...You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup runneth over.

#6 the 6 days of creation, on the 6th day humankind was created. Humans were told to work 6 days and rest on the seventh. 7 is a complete week, a number that signifies perfection or completeness. So six is a number that is incomplete or imperfect. This marriage was incomplete in some way....until Jesus :)

The stone jars symbolize old rituals. The ways of the Jewish people of the time were caught up in a lot of rituals that had lost their meaning.

The water is used for cleansing and purification –there was a LOT of it. When Jesus said to the servants fill the jars, they filled them to the brim! --although I am sure the servants were a bit confused as to Jesus saying fill the water jars, when the problem was there was no wine! But they did as Jesus asked! They followed directions well! Big jars, filled to the brim. Perhaps the servants thought they would then be sent to obtain more wine, while the party-goers washed up again!

But Jesus had a different idea.

I love that there is mention that the servants knew where this new wine came from. Jesus doesn't say Mother, watch this, nor does he tell the family, or the Master of the Banquet....he just does his work quietly and only the servants really see it! The Bible is full of folks in the lower echelons of society being the first to witness God's miracles, including the shepherds in the birth story! All through the gospels ordinary people and everyday aspects of life are the vessels to show the extraordinary love and provision of God.

In John's gospel Jesus uses symbolism – he refers to himself as the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd, the Light of the world, among others. He used phrases of the necessities of life to describe himself! He also said he would give Living Water to whomever believed. In John 7 “ Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,  “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  38  Whoever believes  in me, as Scripture has said,  rivers of living water  will flow from within them.” Jesus proclaimed himself as a source of Living water...water that is clean, vibrant, safe and nourishing, even healing!

So Jesus took jars filled to the brim with water and turned them into an abundance of excellent wine.

He took an occasion of a covenant to show his excellent and abundant love. He showed that there was a new way of life and love. He would later say “ this cup is new covenant in my blood, shed for the forgiveness of sins”. He went to the Cross, purely out of love....taking on the sins of every single human being. The living water that Jesus gave became the cup of redemption. This is the most incredible, and most unselfish act of all time. The Love of God, the perfect, patient, faithful unselfish love we aspire to, was Jesus Christ. We know this, we are about to celebrate it ourselves.

Let us pray: Holy God, we thank you for showing us the perfect love described in Your Word, by sending Jesus, the embodiment of Your Love. Help us to always live in His unselfish love. Amen

this is an olive wood carving of the "Last Supper" on the communion table at our church. 

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