The Second Sunday after Epiphany – Series C – John 2:1-11
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Today we find ourselves with Jesus, his mother, Mary, and his disciples on the third day of what is traditionally a seven day wedding celebration at Cana.
All of these details in John’s Gospel, add up to tell us the curious news that even though the wedding is not even halfway finished, nonetheless, all the wine is gone.
Which means that if we’re looking for someone to blame for this particular party foul, we should probably not be pointing our fingers to the wedding host, to the bridegroom and his family.
After all, the week-long wedding celebration was a matter of tradition, it wasn’t something that was sprung on the bridegroom’s family at the last minute.
They had most likely, planned, and prepared for this week with more than enough wine for their guests.
And so it is certainly curious, if not, somewhat alarming, that these guests in particular, have burnt their way through all of the alcoholic reserves in less than three days.
This is the news and the alarming state of affairs that now prods Mary to come to Jesus with this mixture of an observation, complaint and question.
She doesn’t really ask anything at all, but rather passively states, “They have no wine.”
What does Mary expect?
We know from John’s Gospel that Mary and the wedding hosts were friends, if not possibly family.
In this way, the present shame of the wine being gone, affects not only the bridegroom’s family, but is felt by Mary, herself, as well.
She wants it corrected, rectified, and put in its proper place.
And Mary looks to Jesus as the one who will make all things right.
For thirty years she has watched him grow from the infant adored in the manger, to the child in the temple leaving the greatest teachers of God’s Holy Law speechless.
She’s heard and listened to the preaching of St. John the Baptist, the one proclaiming the axe coming to the root of the trees, the chaff being burned with unquenchable fire.
Mary is looking for justice, for Jesus to show forth God’s power, righteousness and holiness.
It’s time for Jesus, in Mary’s mind, to take up what John the Baptist started, to preach to these drunk and intoxicated scoundrels the true holiness of the Almighty God. For them to hear that the axe is at the root of the trees, that the time of drunkenness is over, and the time of holiness is here.
She seems not to be asking for more wine, but rather to defend the wedding family and embarrass the drunks.
She’s looking for justice, for righteousness, for the time in which, what has gone wrong is now to be made right.
And yet, our Lord rebukes her, he corrects her, shifts her focus, calls her to repentance and so shows her true justice, righteousness and holiness.
He responds with these words, “What does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
Our Lord is not about cheap parlor tricks and dancing around the issue, and more importantly, anything that He does in response to this lack of wine, He does for the sake of mercy, not for the sake of justice.
He does not owe the wedding guests more wine, and neither does He come to vindicate Mary’s friends.
His mission to the cross is not to rebuke sinners, but to reconcile them to His Father.
What has this do with You, Lord? Nothing if asked according to the Law, but everything if asked according to grace. The Son did not come to condemn the world, but to save it.
His hour, the one is coming soon, is where Mary’s eyes are to be fixed, it’s what he’s adjusting with this word of rebuke, this word of faith.
Here in his cross, she will see the kind of justice that He has come to give, the kind of righteousness that He has come to hand over, and the kind of mercy that He has come to be.
Whatever imperfections and confusion that Mary had, whatever it was that she wanted or thought that she wanted, she now responds to His Word with perfect faith: “Do whatever He tells you.”
She didn’t know what would happen. She had no expectations, but she trusted that from the Lord he would do something good.
“Do whatever He tells you” is much more than a command of obedience, it is the very nature of trust.
It is trust that expects good from the Lord. It is the height, the epitome, the very definition of true faith.
Throughout our lives, lived in faith, in Holy Baptism, you and I find ourselves in the position and vocation of St. Mary.
We ask that God would cure our cancer, put an end to our lust and temptation, gather our children back into the family of the church.
We pray and we pray and we pray.
Whether we realize it or not, we are always, in this way, praying for the end.
We are praying for the Lord’s final return and so the end of all of this sorrow, suffering and pain.
That is what we mean when we pray together: “Deliver us from evil.”
And yet, so often in our lives, it may feel as though the answer to all of our complaints is: “What has this to do with Me? My hours has not yet come.”
Like St. Mary, our prayers are imperfect and often confused. We are sometimes afraid in our fallen flesh, to be truly honest with God in what we want.
We skirt around the issue, we hint at it and passively make observations.
But He is moved by compassion. He knows what is best. In Christ, the answer is always, “Yes.”
We have no right to ask Him for justice, we have no entitlement to complain about our circumstances, but He is moved by mercy.
He is not come to be John the Baptist, rebuking the drunks. He is Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord who saves. The one who has come to give the best wine to those who are already intoxicated, to fill up and lavish the undeserving with his grace and mercy.
He loves those who hated Him. He is merciful to those who abuse his gifts. He is compassionate to those who are angry and bitter and frustrated.
He works on behalf of the poor, the victims of injustice, the small and the insignificant. He dies for those who kill Him.
What will the Lord do? How will he answer our prayers? We don’t always know. But His compassion is greater than it seems. He gives us what is good, we can trust and expect from Him every good and perfect gift.
For He wants to forgive, to be merciful, to shower us with wine that we do not deserve, that we cannot appreciate, and that we will almost certainly abuse.
He gives because He loves, and He does not hold back, He does not sell us short, but gives entirely and of Himself.
“Do whatever He tells you,” is still the epitome of faith.
In faith, we submit to His Word. “Hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good, love one another, rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, bless and do not curse.”
In faith, we wait upon Him. We confess that He is good and will not fail us.
Vengeance is not ours. Vengeance is His, but so is mercy and forgiveness.
He has compassion on the drunks, on the undeserving, on the unbelieving, on the abused and the abusers, the oppressed and the oppressors.
He is not John the Baptist coming to rebuke the drunks.
He is Jesus, the one who comes to save, the one who gives good wine to the drunks.
The Lord epiphanies His true glory to us this day. He shows us himself, his love, his mercy.
And he does so with an act, that looks to us, like an extravagant waste.
But His wisdom is not our wisdom, His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His mercy knows no end.
The Lord begins His Ministry at Cana with an act of extravagant grace.
This is the character of His Ministry, the purpose of His suffering, death and resurrection.
Here our hope is found.
We have no right that He would heal our land, but we pray that He does. We have no right to be His people, to be forgiven, but He has already declared us to be so.
As great as is the miracle of water turning into wine, much greater is the miracle recorded at the end of our reading, “And His disciples believed in Him.”
Here is the gift of faith, the gift only God can give. Let it be so also for us, may the Lord fill us with His faith, may we hear, see and believe, that He is good, that He is Lord, that He has come for us.
So take and drink, the cup has been filled to the brim and is indeed overflowing, He comes to give wine to the drunks, to give forgiveness completely and fully for sinners.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.