John 2: 1-11
2On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ 4And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 6Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
I love magic shows.
Last Thanksgiving weekend, my extended family watched a TV show staring the magician David Blaine.
He was standing in Harrison Ford’s kitchen and pulled out a deck of cards.
Ford looked through the deck and picked a card.
He just thought about the card, and did not remove it from the deck or show it to anyone.
He just thought about it.
Blaine then told Ford to look through the deck to see if the card was still there.
Blaine then asked Ford what the card was and Ford said the 9 of hearts.
Blaine then had Ford pick up an orange from a bowl on the counter.
Blaine cut the orange in half and Ford reached in and pulled out the 9 of hearts.
That might be one of the most amazing tricks I have ever seen.
Did Blaine really read Ford’s mind to identify the card then transport it invisibly into the center of an uncut orange?
Of course not.
That would be a miracle!
Maybe more than one.
It was just a really cool trick.
A fabulous illusion, but not a miracle.
If you go on YouTube you can see both the trick and how it was done.
Do miracles really happen?
If we want to know that, we need to know the definition of a miracle.
Calvin defined a miracle as an event that confirms, attests to, or bears witness to the power of God.
It is a sign of the salvation proclaimed in the Gospel.
In other words, miracles only happen if they glorify God.
Have you observed a miracle?
If you did, do you connect it with being part of a faith community?
Part of the JMPC faith community?
That’s what these little notes are for in this vase.
Miracles people have experienced that they think resulted, in part, from an association with this faith community.
Why are we collecting these now?
We are starting our annual fundraising campaign for JMPC.
Our theme is “Find the Miracles”.
We want folks to think of how the power of God has been demonstrated here at JMPC.
Events unexplainable other that as signs of God’s power as proclaimed in the Gospel.
So for the month of October, Matt and I will be preaching about Jesus’ miracles.
And today I am going to talk about the very first one.
We all know the story.
The wedding at Cana.
Water into wine.
Jesus attends a wedding with his mother and disciples.
While Jesus is at the wedding there is a serious social faux pas for the bridegroom.
They are out of wine!
This is bad.
For a Jewish wedding in those days, wine was essential.
A Rabbi would say that without wine, there is not joy!
And a wedding is supposed to be joyful!
But here there is no more wine!
No more joy.
Is this a bad omen or what?
Worse still, the bridegroom’s reputation will be ruined.
For the rest of his life he will be known as the one who ran out of wine at his wedding.
A terrible mistake.
Jesus’ mom tells Jesus to do something.
She knows who Jesus is and knows he probably can.
And his response?
‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’
“Really, mom? This is not the right time!”
Not the right time?
For proclaiming the Gospel and demonstrating he has the power of God.
It’s just not that time yet.
But she knows.
Jesus will do something.
Maybe just because she said so.
And so, the first recorded miracle of Jesus.
Water to wine.
And good wine to boot.
The first time I read this story, I thought that it was a rather trivial use of Jesus’ great power.
There is a bit more than meets the eye happening here.
John describes it this way.
11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Revealing his glory.
Causing a change in the way the disciples understood Jesus.
But also a demonstration of the way that was all going to happen.
First, Jesus is persuaded to move out of his timetable to rescue this poor bridegroom.
True, it is his mother who persuades, but it does seem to say that Jesus is willing to be persuaded.
Then Jesus tells the servants to help.
If Jesus is going to intervene, often he uses others to do the work.
Folks like you and me.
Sometimes folks who aren’t even his disciples.
These folks fill the jars used for purification water.
The water is now ready to be used for Jewish purification rites.
Water to cleanse folks prior to participating in some ritual.
So, Jesus uses what is handy to do what needs to be done.
This purification water then becomes wine.
The best wine.
And the wedding joy is continued and the bridegroom’s mistake is washed away.
So, the event represents something important.
It is a sign that revealed Jesus’ glory.
It told a story that revealed something about Jesus.
Purification water was changed to wine and represented a sign of Jesus “glory”, which, in John, meant his passion and death on the cross for the forgiveness of sin.
Which sounds much like the wine of the new covenant, sealed with Jesus’ blood for the purification of humankind.
So, maybe the wedding at Cana was the first communion.
Did the wedding guests understand this?
Most did not even know it happened.
But he disciples did.
For them maybe it was like a parable.
The kingdom of God is like a wedding where they ran out of wine …
Maybe that is why the disciples “believed in him” then.
In a different way.
After all, they were already his disciples.
But now they knew what his Messiahship was all about.
So, what Jesus did at the wedding was not mere trick.
It was a sign of who he was and what he was going to do.
Right out of the gates.
At the wedding at Cana.
Jesus was going to be generous, bring joy and cover our mistakes.
Now is when you ask me, “Jeff, what’s the point? What does that mean to us?”
Let’s look at the story differently.
Jesus has invited us to God’s kingdom.
But there is a need for additional resources.
Resources that will meet the needs of someone, create joy and save folks from their mistakes and misfortune.
Jesus tells us that.
We might be inclined to respond by saying something like: ‘Jesus, what concern is that to me? My hour for providing resources has not yet come.’
Why would we say such a thing?
Maybe because we believe we are living in uncertain and busy times.
We need to save our resources.
We need to do other stuff.
We can meet the needs of others at some later time when our lives settle down.
But then Jesus tells us to do it anyway.
Because that is what he did.
And so we do.
And because we provide now, when it is hard, when it is inconvenient, when it is scary, our provisions will be the best kind.
And it will be our sign that we know, glorify and serve him.
And we can tell a story with our actions.
A story of Jesus, who he was and what he did.
Jesus has turned to us and told us the world around us has not wine!
People are suffering.
Jesus is relying on our compassion to help him meet that need.
And do something generous, joyful and forgiving despite our human nature of self-preservation.
Jesus tells us to meet the needs of all, including ourselves.
If we see a need in the world, in our community, in our church, we should try to meet the need.
Because that is what Jesus did and that is living the Jesus way.
There is always a more convenient time for us to do so, whether economically, physically or emotionally.
But if we wait, we might miss a chance to change someone’s life.
It was not Jesus time, but he did something.
And he changed this man’s life.
It might not be our time, but we should do something to change lives, too.
But if we have no resources, what can we do?
As individuals, maybe very little.
As a community, quite a bit.
We can combine resources and generate multiples of generosity and joy and assistance to those who come to our attention.
Whether it is through worship, prayer, spiritual development, nurturing our covenant community, outreach to others, or managing our resources, we can have a much greater impact when we combine what we can share.
And we each are called to contribute … something.
We might not be able to change water to wine, but we can make wine or we can buy wine.
Together, all of us together, we can make a difference in the world and change lives.
So as you come to this table, remember what Jesus did for you and pray about how you can be like Jesus and meet the needs of the community around you create joy where none exists, and save people form their mistakes and misfortunes.
That is what JMPC is for.
That is how we know, glorify and serve God.
That is how we live the Jesus way.