Sermon by John, 9am 17 January 2016, John 2:1 – 11
The Wedding in Cana of Galilee
Depending on which culture you come from, a wedding with the accompanying reception would last from a few hours to several days. In Jesus time the reception would last days, which is why the wine would run out with all the guests enjoying themselves!
Jesus doesn’t want the wedding to end too soon because everyone (including him) is having fun. Where do you find more wine in a small town where every litre has been set aside (and used) for the wedding? There is no more wine!
Clearly, something must be done, and Mary, our Lord’s mother does it. She goes to her son – “We have a problem, please do something.” Initially, Jesus questions whether he needs at this stage in his life and ministry to become involved in human need. He had already, in the wilderness rejected the temptation to turn stones into bread when he was hungry – why, now work a miracle?
This mother knows that she can trust her son to do whatever seems good to him, so she tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” And so Jesus, having thought and prayed about it for a few minutes, comes to a decision. He tells the servants to fill six stone water jars with water (each jar holding approximately 100 litres), and then to draw out the water now turned to wine and to take it to the Master of the Feast who is delighted to taste the best wine he’s ever experienced. “You served the best wine only now”, he tells the bridegroom.
St John, (who is the only writer to record this) comments: – “this was the first of his miraculous signs” (more were to follow) and writes, significantly, “He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him”. What a party it turned out to be – 600 litres of choice wine for the guests. Later, the Pharisees were to call Jesus a drunk, a friend of sinners; they knew Jesus enjoyed God’s gifts of food and drink, as we do, and they tried to turn it against him.
[reflect on this for a moment]
Now some lessons for us from Cana in Galilee:
Firstly: God has made marriage and enjoys being present at wedding ceremonies and receptions. God who is personal, enjoys people, and so should we. There are receptions where the guests wait for the minister to leave before starting to enjoy themselves because they know he disapproves of dancing and the excesses sometimes seen at receptions. We must never be : ‘kill-joys’. Jesus enjoyed people and laughed a good deal because he was and is fully human. When we aim at perfection in anything, like for example our behaviours, we must know that improving means becoming more fully human, like Jesus.
Secondly: we can never discuss marriage without also thinking about what happens when relationships break down in divorce. Archbishop William Temple comments: “What is best to be done when the ideal is once made impossible, Jesus did not say. He did not blame Moses for making a concession to the hardness of men’s hearts and there is no reason to suppose that a like liberty is forbidden to us. But He did say that only because hearts were hard was any concession given.” St Francis de Sales has this to say about marriage: “It is a happy thing when two souls meet who love each other only to love God better” And “What God unites cannot be separated” And “Love equalizes Love” And “the state of marriage is one which requires more virtue and constancy than any other; it is a perpetual exercise of mortification.” And “The closest and most fruitful union between husband and wife is that which is effected in holy devotion”.
Since our Lord Jesus Christ once turned water into wine, think of what He can do with you and me! For example, take your habitual sins or troublesome faults, bring them to Jesus and ask Him to transform them into something very good and pleasing to God, your family and friends. Come in faith to Jesus this morning at the altar rail and ask Him to touch you in His unique and special way in order that you may become the very best you are capable of becoming here and now. May the good Lord be pleased with us as we come asking to be made more worthy of His great Love for us. Allow God to transform you more and more so that others may be drawn to God through you and come to experience for themselves His power in their lives.
Changing water into wine was an act of sheer Grace on God’s part. Changing you and me into His beloved and faithful sons and daughters is also an act of Grace on His part; May we both ask for and receive the very best to the Glory of God the Father. Amen