Here are three sermons that I have preached on this passage.

Epiphany 4, Year A Common Worship. B.C.P. Epiphany 2  - John 2:1-11

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." 4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, 9 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 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Funny signs outside churches.

"Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him."

"Don't let worry kill you. Let the church help"

"What does God want for Christmas. Look in the mirror"

"Sign broke. Come inside for message"

"Cars are not the only thing recalled by their maker"

"God expects spiritual fruit, not religious nuts"

"Get right or get left"

"Be an organ donor. Give your heart to Jesus."

Signs point to something beyond themselves. This is the first of at least 7 in John's gospel

It points to Jesus' compassion. In Jesus’ day the host of the party was expected to provide guests with food and wine. If, for some reason, the host failed in providing adequately for them it was considered a social disgrace. In the closely-knit communities of Jesus’ day, such an error would never be forgotten and would haunt the newly married couple all their lives.

Jesus saved them from disgrace by transforming the ordinary water into an extraordinarily good wine. We see a glimpse of the creative power of Jesus the creator. John had written about him in 1:3, ‘Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.’

This and the other signs point to who Jesus is. He is God and man who came to transform. Water into wine. Sinners into saints. Jesus wanted to show the inadequacy of the Old Testament compared to the New Testament he would establish. The large water jars were there for ceremonial cleansing. The Old Testament required continual washings and sacrifices, but did not change people’s hearts. Jeremiah looked forward to God overcoming this weakness through the "new covenant written on the heart" (Jer 31:31-34). John the Baptist pointed to Jesus who would baptise with the Holy Spirit.

The master of ceremonies tasted this wine, he remarked that it is of a superior quality and wondered why it has been kept until the end (v 10). Normally people had good wine for the start of the banquet and cheap plonk for later when people couldn't taste the difference. This superior wine is an example of what Jesus has to offer: something that supersedes what Judaism can offer – and God has kept it until now, until the coming of Jesus.

This happened at the start of Jesus' ministry. 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

It appears that not everyone who attended this celebration was aware of what Jesus had done, although the disciples certainly were because they ‘put their faith in him’. The word for faith is not just an intellectual belief that Jesus existed, in the way that some people say that they ‘believe in Jesus‘, yet it makes no difference to how they live their lives. The word for faith is a trusting word.

The disciples knew of, even observed this miracle, and they decided that they would trust and follow this Jesus. This was an important step in their relationship with him. They still had a long way to go in their understanding of who Jesus is and what He came to do. It is a reminder that the Christian life is a journey, and that there are important growth points before we come to a saving knowledge of Christ, and afterwards.

The reason that John records this incident is to record the first of signs that point to Jesus. The goal of this account and the whole book is found in...

John 20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John chose this, and all of the other events recorded in his gospel bring people to trust in Jesus. The disciples take their first step of faith at Cana. Jesus is God, the creator of everything that is created. He came to do the will of God. He came to transform the ordinary to the best. He showed us how much he loves us by dying on the cross. He gives superior life because he has conquered death and is alive today.

You have to act upon a sign to get to the right place. "Be an organ donor. Give your heart to Jesus."

We are called to trust Jesus with our whole lives because of who he is and what he has done for us. We have the privilege of enjoying the new wine of his kingdom in this life, and in the life to come. 

-----------------------

Jesus had called his disciples. Now back home for a local wedding. Friend of family - Mary there.

Middle East wedding celebrations last for 2 or 3 days. Hospitality important, duty of groom to provide enough food and drink. If he didn't led to social disgrace, even court action. Used to start with better wine then as party went on & taste buds dulled by wine bring out cheaper plonk.

Verse 3 Jesus mother informs him they have run out of wine. Mary knew something of who Jesus was. Supernatural birth with angels, shepherds & kings. Boy Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem to discuss theology with the religious teachers. Perhaps she almost said this instinctively, knowing that Jesus could provide in some way. Maybe pictured Jesus like Superman, changing from carpenter to superhero, going around helping people out of trouble.

Nick Matthews - timing awry e.g. Y.P.F. told him 15 minutes early; personal life - had a child before married; we were invited to wedding - hadn't checked with caterers and they turned up several hours late ! Timing is important.

Jesus politely rebukes his mother. Read verse 4. "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." It was as if Mary was saying 'Go on, show them who you are.' Jesus was saying that the time when he would truly reveal himself was when he was on the cross. This incident centres on the revelation of Jesus. The revelation that is to come on the cross, verse 4. And the revelation that occurs when Jesus turns the water into wine, verse 11.

This reminds us that we have to wait for God's timing for things to happen. We cannot force things ourselves. We have to wait upon his grace to be dispensed in accordance with His will. Jesus knew in advance that his ultimate revelation would be on an instrument of torture, humiliation and death. But this was the start of Jesus public ministry and it would be about three years before Jesus would be crucified. Jesus could have come to earth as an adult, appeared briefly to be crucified, resurrected and returned to heaven. But he didn't. This was not God's way and timing.

Jesus could have been born today. Then the whole world would be able to see via television and the internet this Jesus, the place where he performed these miracles, and to see pictures of this miracle worker from a lowly place... Perhaps we can see why this happened 2,000 years ago !

Today some Christians try to force God's hand. So that God will do things according to their time schedule and not his own. Healings and miracles are almost demanded from God as if we set the agenda. The Holy Spirit is commanded to come down in a way that suggests that he is at our disposal. Whereas we should be at his disposal...

Jesus waited patiently, and so should we. This is at odds with today's culture where we expect things immediately. Unless of course we are the ones being expected to deliver something immediately !

In verse 11 Johns calls the turning of the water into wine a 'sign', NIV 'miraculous signs'. This is the first of seven 'miraculous signs' that John records. John's gospel only records extracts from twenty days of Jesus' life. He explains the reason for doing this in 20:30f : 'Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.'

These seven signs, and the other edited highlights that John presents, are to reveal Jesus as the Christ - unpack. This is so that people will trust in Jesus which will bring them into a right relationship with God the Father.

A sign by definition points away from itself to something, or someone of importance. The sign is of secondary importance. Yet today we see some elements of the Christian church being obsessed with the signs, rather than the one to whom they point. Some think that if the sign is spectacular enough then this will bring forward numerous people in repentance and faith. But this is not the case. Jesus raised someone who was dead, performed numerous miracles, yet died alone on a cross.

Paul writing to the church at Corinth reminds them that the 'Jews demand miraculous signs and the Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified : a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles' ( 1 Cor. 1:22f ).

There is more to inspiring true faith than producing a spectacular event. The most spectacular miracle that makes people take notice is when they see someone's life transformed by the power of God : a vibrant life; a secure life; an obedient life; a life of love. This is a miraculous sign that points to God.

Back to verse 5. Jesus mother tells the servants to obey Jesus. Although the time was not right for the ultimate revelation of who Jesus is, Jesus didn't allow what would happen in the future to stop him helping someone on this occasion. So he transforms the water into wine.

Some commentators have used this as an illustration, like a parable, that shows how Jesus takes the water symbolising human nature, and turns it into wine, symbolising the nature of God. Some ministers might preach like this at a wedding. However, this is flawed. Firstly because this event happened. It is an historical narrative, not a parable. John is careful to record where, Cana, when, the third day, and details like the remarks of the master of the banquet, and that the water jars were the ones used for ceremonial washing.

In Chapter 1:29-34 John the Baptist mentions that he baptises with water, but someone greater will baptise with the Holy Spirit. The water used for ceremonial washing, such as the washing of the feet performed by Jesus in Chapter 13, parallels the baptism of John. An external work that, in itself, cannot make a difference.

Yet the wine, which amongst other things was used as a disinfectant, goes inside. The old, ineffective cleaning from outside is replaced by a new, effective cleaning from inside as God's Holy Spirit comes into our lives.

Elsewhere Jesus uses the picture of wine to symbolise his blood, shed for us, that makes us clean in God's sight, and points to God's plan of salvation for humankind.

Some churches add water to communion wine to symbolise the humanity of Jesus.

The climax of the story is in verse 11. This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Here the disciples respond to this sign by trusting in the one to whom the sign pointed. This reaction to this first sign is the response that John wants his readers to make to the whole of the revelation about Jesus found in his gospel. This early faith of the disciples, and the glimpse of Mary's incomplete understanding about Jesus' mission reminds us that we are all on a journey of discovery with, and about Jesus.

We are called to be growing in knowing Jesus. Not merely an intellectual knowledge about him, the Bible, and theology. But a practical knowing him, as our friend, our saviour, and Lord of our lives.

This passage asks some question of where we are.

Have we responded by radically trusting Jesus and deciding to follow Him ? This is something that we need to do again and again and again in our lives as we grow in our following and knowing Jesus.

Or do we want to have him at our disposal ? Wanting our timing and not God's ? Thinking that Jesus is there just to help us out rather than to be worshipped and obeyed.

Or are we concentrating so much on the signs and wonders that we forget the one to whom they point ?

Are we letting his Holy Spirit have his way within us to transform us and make us more like Jesus ?

Prayer :

Father God,

We thank you for the example of the first disciples who put their trust in Jesus and who grew in their knowledge, love, and service of Jesus.

Help us to be like them. To trust Jesus with everything, and to continue in knowing, serving, and loving him.

this we ask for the glory of your name.

Amen.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

John 2:1-11

I'd like you to think back to the last time you went to a wedding ? Can you remember how long it and the reception lasted ? Probably no more than six of eight hours.

According to the Mishnah a wedding would take place on a Wednesday if the bride was a virgin and on a Thursday if she was a widow (Ket. 1:1). The bridegroom and his friends made their way in procession to the bride's house. This was often done at night, when there could be a spectacular torchlight procession. There were doubtless speeches and expressions of goodwill before the bride and groom went in procession to the groom's house, where the wedding banquet was held. It is probable that there was a religious ceremony, but we have no details. The processions and the feast are the principal items of which we have knowledge. The feast was prolonged, and might last as long as a week.

We cannot be sure exactly where Cana was, although some suggest it was about 9 miles North of Nazareth, where Jesus, his disciples and mother lived. The gospels record Jesus attending meals and celebrations on many occasions. It makes one ask why some who claim to follow Jesus have insisted that life should be devoid of pleasure. I know of one Christian couple who had an alcohol-free reception and said what a witness it was !

I am not suggesting that you must have alcoholic drinks to enjoy yourself, or commending drunkenness. Every Christian's body is a temple of the Holy Spirit so we should not lose control of them to drink or drugs. But, just as an earthly father loves to see his child enjoy a Christmas present, so our heavenly father loves to see us enjoy his good gifts.

In Jesus' day the host of the party was expected to provide them with food and wine. And if for some reason the host failed in providing adequately for the guests it was considered a social disgrace. Running out of wine and food meant more than embarrassment; it broke the strong unwritten laws of hospitality. In the closely-knit communities of Jesus' day, such an error would never be forgotten and would haunt the newly married couple all their lives. It could have been that Mary knew about them running out of wine early on because she was helping with the hospitality.

3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." 4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."

Mary thought that her son could help with this problem. He had just been baptised and chosen his disciples in readiness for his public ministry. Mary knew of his miraculous conception and birth, she remembered the promises made about Jesus. Perhaps he needed his mother to push him into the limelight.

The phrase 'Dear woman' was a polite but distant way of addressing one's mother. When Jesus refers to 'my time' in John's gospel this refers to his revelation through his death, resurrection and ascension. It was as if Jesus was saying, 'This is of no concern to me, my business is about saving the world'.

Perhaps this incident is an important growth point in Mary's relationship with Jesus. Up until now she might have seen Jesus as her son. From this incident she realises that Jesus is God's son and will follow his heavenly father's ways.

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

Mary shows her trust in Jesus my telling the servants to obey him. Jesus shows his compassion by saving the couple from social disgrace at the start of their married life.

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Because the celebrations went on for a week or two the guests would have to ceremonially was before they ate. This was in accordance with the Old Testament Law.

7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, 9 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.

Jesus transformed the ordinary water into an extraordinarily good wine. We see a glimpse of the creative power of Jesus the creator. John had written about him in 1:3, 'Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.'

Of course, Jesus could have made the wine appear in the water jars rather than have the servants fill them with water which he would transform. Why did he not do this ? It could be that Jesus wanted to illustrate the inadequacy of the Old Testament compared to the New Testament he would establish. The O.T. required continual washings and sacrifices, but did not change people's hearts. Jeremiah looked forward to God overcoming this weakness through the "new covenant written on the heart" (Jer 31:31-34).

John's purpose in recording this was to invite his readers to look beyond the miraculous act to the God who could bring about fundamental changes not only to inanimate objects but also in the lives of men and women. This miracle can happen again as the water of guilt and failure is transformed by the word of the risen Jesus into the wine of forgiveness, victory over sin and joyful obedience. We can know this in our own lives and see it in the lives of those who have acknowledged Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and who are being transformed by His Spirit working in their lives.

When I was a teenager and was invited to a 'bring a bottle party' someone would always bring a can of Watney's Red Barrel in a big tin called, depending on it's capacity, a 'Party Four' or a 'Party Seven'. This would often create some amusement because, in the days before widgets, people rarely had the triangular implement required to pierce the tins. Often a large screwdriver was hammered into the tin followed by fizzy beer shooting out of the tin that had been released by the violence done to it. To be honest, the beer was poor, and the other beers, usually in smaller containers were usually drank before people resorted to the Red Barrel.

Then he ( the master of the banquet ) 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."

Jesus could have produced a low quality wine which would have pleased the guests who's palates had been dulled by the wine they had already consumed. But this wine was better than the best that the bridegroom could afford. It was so good that it amazed the master of the banquet, who perhaps had tasted many wines of differing quality over the years. It is a reminder that Jesus wants the best for us. Not only that, he wants to give it generously. He provided 120-180 gallons of this top quality wine.

John 10:10 ; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. That is why, when his hour had come, he went to the cross. He did this so we can have the best quality life. Lived in a right relationship with God the Father. Unhindered by sin, free to follow, love, serve and worship God. Free to love others. This is why we were created. But the creator had to change us, and has to change us from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

This is the fist 'sign' that John records. This is the literal meaning of semeia that the N.I.V. translates 'miraculous signs '. John does not use the Greek words for 'mighty works' (dynameis) or miracles or wonders ( terata ).

John prefers the simple word 'signs': Jesus' miracles are never simply naked displays of power, or conjuring tricks to impress the crowds, but signs. Significant displays of power that point beyond themselves to the deeper realities that could be observed with the eyes of faith. Just as, say, a road sign points to somewhere beyond itself, so this sign pointed to someone.

Today there are some parts of the church that are so concerned with 'signs and wonders' that the one to whom they point is in danger of being ignored. Equally concerning is parts of the church that deny that Jesus' power is exercised today.

The first sign happened in a place, Cana in Galilee, on a day, somewhere around 30 A.D. We do have a God who has intervened, and does intervene in human history. Here he intervenes to save a couple whose names have been forgotten from social disgrace. God loves to reveal himself to human beings.

It appears that not everyone who attended this celebration was aware of what Jesus had done, although the disciples certainly were because they 'put their faith in him'. The word for faith is not an intellectual belief that Jesus existed, in the way that some people say that they 'believe in Jesus ', yet it makes no difference to how they live their lives. The word for faith is a trusting word.

The disciples knew of, even observed this miracle, and they decided that they would trust and follow this Jesus. This was an important step in their relationship with him, although we could not say this was a conversion experience because Jesus had yet to die and rise again. It is a reminder that the Christian life is a journey, and that there are important growth points before we come to a saving knowledge of Christ, and afterwards.

The reason that John records this incident is to records the first of seven signs that point to Jesus. The goal of this record and the whole book is found in...

John 20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John chose this, and all of the other events recorded in his gospel to elicit faith in Jesus.

Jesus who is God, the creator of everything that is created. Who came to do the will of God. Who came to transform the ordinary to the best. Who showed us how much he loves us by dying on the cross. Who gives us life because he has conquered death and is alive today.

We are called to trust Jesus with our whole lives because of who he is and what he has done for us. We have the privilege of enjoying the new wine of his kingdom in this life, and in the life to come.