This Week’s Lectionary Sermon

This message is provided for those preparing for next Sunday’s message. Unless otherwise noted, it uses the texts from the Revised Common Lectionary. For more sermons in this year of the cycle, Year C, go to that page in the menu. Sermons are listed in ascending order, with Advent I at the bottom of the page.

There’s More Where That Came From

John 2:1-11…Epiphany 2C

            Jesus is beginning his ministry.  In the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the first recorded act of his ministry is to preach or teach.  John takes us first into an awkward moment.  The wine ran out!  There are some situations in the Bible we have to work hard to imagine, but this one is easy.  We’ve all been embarrassed because we didn’t plan right, or more guests showed up than we prepared for.

            So.  Jesus comes to the rescue!  Well, there’s more to it than that, of course.  As those who are committed to following Jesus Christ, we want to see what is revealed about Jesus here.  What will lead us to say “aha!”–that’s something I needed to know about Jesus.

            What we need to know from this story is that with Jesus, there is always more.  Now I have to  go against my usual impulse to say that more is not always better.  The prevalent attitude in our culture is to do everything bigger, “better,” more.   And that is not serving us well, because we’re becoming buried in stuff, overloaded with obligations, frantic to keep up with a “more is better” society.  Trying to find meaning and satisfaction just by adding more is killing our souls.

            Maybe we have this cultural sickness because we have forgotten that Jesus is enough for us.  With him there is always more to discover, more to celebrate and worship.  He is the more that we need, not more stuff, more friends, more ways to fill our lives with anything but love and peace.  The story of the wedding at Cana shows us that Jesus cares more, does more, and is more than we can ever know.

            Jesus cares.  We know that he loves to heal and forgive.  We know he gives us peace when we are troubled with grief and regret.  But here, he cares about a host who got himself into a jam, a social faux pas.  His mother notified him of the problem most likely because she knew he could do something about it.  She had to coax him a bit, John tells us.  But Jesus came through, and the wine was the best they had ever tasted.

            Jesus has compassion for people who get themselves into a jam.  Who knew?  We like to think that “God helps those who help themselves,” but that idea is not actually supported by Scripture, let alone the ministry of Jesus.  Jesus knows us, knows that we get ahead of ourselves sometimes.  We end up asking, “How did I get myself into this mess?”  And we might think we don’t deserve any help from God because it was our mistake.  Did your parents teach you what mine taught me?  “You got yourself into this.  You can get yourself out of it.”

            Not that Jesus encourages us to be foolhardy.  When he tells us to follow him, he makes sure we know what we’re getting into.  He says that we should be like someone who is going to build a tower, estimating the cost of materials and labor before laying the first brick.  Discipleship does not exclude wisdom. 

            The good news of Jesus is that he meets us where we are, and where we are often is in a pickle, to say the least.  Too often the situation is serious, and we need help, and he is eager to give it.  If you wonder whether Jesus cares about your situation, be assured that he does.  He cares more than you may have assumed.  Do you ever wonder whether God cares about something that concerns you?  Too trivial for God to care about?  You think you don’t deserve it?  Then turn back to the cross and find your questions answered.  Jesus cares. 

            Jesus always does more than we expect.  Mary prodded her son to help a desperate host at a wedding, and he provided far more wine than they needed.  It was better wine than they had ever tasted before.  They hit the jackpot when they invited Jesus to their party! 

            Does that mean that God is a divine vending machine, dispensing whatever strikes our fancy?  You know better than that.  What Jesus did that day was more than provide the beverages for a newly married couple and their friends.  Jesus used the water that had been drawn and stored for the purification rites.  The water was designated for a religious ritual that had become a stagnant, meaningless obligation.   Jesus changed the water into something rich and delightful.  Ever since John penned his account of the miracle, we have seen that it was a sign of a new order that Jesus was introducing.  He was infusing new life into the concept of the kingdom of God. 

            Jesus didn’t just do miracles.  He was embodying the kingdom God had planned for us.  The old sacrificial order had lost its power to bring people to God, thanks to the human tendency of focusing on the ritual instead of what it pointed to. 

            We don’t want to make the same mistake the people of Israel had been making.  We want to recognize the signs Jesus gives us in his ministry, signs that reveal the nature of his glory and his power.  He can heal sickness, yes, but it also shows his compassion and authority over the created order.  He fed thousands of people with a few fish and loaves, yes.  But it also reveals his desire for our well-being. 

            Do you see?  What Jesus did in the gospels, and what he does for us today, is not just about the help he gives us.  It shows his faithfulness, his goodness, his love.  It reveals his character.  We know him better because we receive his blessings.  Jesus is more than we might have thought, even more than we have been taught.

            This is true even when we don’t experience direct answers to our prayers.  Even when God seems silent, God is working all things together for us who love Him.  God is providing Christian friends, a church where you belong.  God has graced you with spiritual gifts that may be just waiting to be used for God’s glory.  God is always at work in your life, even—maybe especially—when we can’t detect the hand of God with our limited minds. 

            The story of the wedding at Cana continues with the new wine taken to the steward, who was astounded at its quality.  Problem solved!   He didn’t care where it came from; he was glad to save face and keep the party going.  He didn’t recognize the source.

            The disciples did see what happened and who made the wine.  Witnessing the miracle established faith in them.  The sign of turning water into wine made them realize that Jesus was the one they had been waiting for.  The miracle revealed Jesus’ glory.

            Glory is about more than haloes and heavenly music playing in the background.  Glory is also about weightiness, significance.  It is about meaning and hope.  Jesus was more than he appeared.  He was a man, but he was also God’s Son, divine Word come to us to lift us out of our dead-end lives, our empty religion, our small ideas about the world and the God who made it. 

            When you experience the fullness of life, the good times when everything seems sweet, do you recognize the source?  Do you see that God is providing the life you were meant to enjoy?  Or do you just think, hey this is fun, and move on to the next distraction?  Do you live with a thankful heart?  Can you see the handprint of God on every aspect of your life?  He is the creator of every good thing.

            Jesus is always more than we know.  We can spend our whole lives exploring the gospels and the meaning of his presence in our lives.  We can never reach the end of his goodness, his character, his love.  All we need to do is open the gospels and observe him at work, listen to his wisdom, sense his heart.  Gaze at the cross and wonder at the depth of his love for you. 

            Jesus cares more than we give him credit for.  He does more than we can ever detect with our limited sensibilities.  He is more than we have recognized.  A little water turned into wine?  That’s just the beginning.  There’s a lot more where that came from.