Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 17, 2016, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas
Sermon Text: John 2:1-11
Sermon Theme: “You Weren’t Baptized in Vinegar!”
(Sources: Anderson’s Cycle C Preacher’s Workbook; Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 26, Part 1, Series C; original ideas; Emphasis Online Illustrations; Online puns by Jesus; Nelson’s Three-in-One)
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Weddings take an awful amount of money and an awful amount of time and work to put on, especially for the Bride’s family. I know, because I have two daughters and we had wedding feasts for both. For my oldest daughter, we had champagne for the fun-lovers and “fake” champagne (sparkling fruit juice without alcohol) for the non-drinkers like me.
Fortunately for my pocket book, the consumption of sparkling wine lasted only for one evening, quite unlike the wedding at Cana in our sermon text. In Jesus’ day, Jewish weddings were elaborate affairs which lasted for nearly a week, during which time the guests were provided with food and drink. Our text says, “On the third day,” which we take to mean the third day of the marriage celebration.
Our text also says that the wine Jesus created out of water consisted of six stone jars, holding 20 or 30 gallons each. At most, we’re talking about 180 gallons of wine. If the guests, made up of the entire community, drank 180 gallons of wine the first three days, and 180 gallons the last three days, that would have been a total of 360 gallons of alcoholic fruit juice for the week. I got off cheap compared to that.
There are really two levels of this story of the miracle of changing water into wine, — the actual, literal level and the symbolic level, and they were both intended. Often, however, readers don’t discern the symbolic level.
In the actual level of the story, Mary, Jesus, and His disciples are invited to a marriage at Cana, not far from Nazareth. During the third day of the feast, the wine played out and Mary went to Jesus with this problem, no doubt believing that her Son was capable of performing miracles. Yet, Jesus reacted by saying something strange, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother then tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.
Although Jesus seemed to have refused His mother’s request, He goes on to tell the servants to fill the jars with water, and He turns the water into wine. Later, the Master of the Feast tastes the transformed water and declares it the best wine ever!
The literal level of the story suggests that Jesus approves of joy and fun and celebration in the daily lives of His people, and this fact is especially important considering it was the very first miracle our Savior performed. The Apostle Paul emphasized the importance of joy in the life of a Christian in Philippians 4:4.
I am reminded of a story told by a pastor about a member of his church whose name was Herb. The pastor never doubted Herb’s faith, but he never saw the joy of the Lord in Herb’s words or in his demeanor. Folks in his church said Herb could bring gloom and doom to a room more quickly than anyone else they knew. The pastor remarked that Herb always acted as though he had been baptized in vinegar; if you look like you were baptized in vinegar, Jesus may not claim you! Continue reading