Devotional Message: The 2nd Sunday after The Epiphany (1/20/2019)

Lessons

Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1st Corinthians 12:1-11
St. John 2:1-11

Prayer of the Day

Lord God, source of every blessing, you showed forth your glory and led many to faith by the works of your Son, who brought gladness and salvation to his people. Transform us by the Spirit of his love, that we may find our life together in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Text for This Sunday

2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When 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 10 and 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.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 

St. John 2:1-11, New Revised Standard Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Message: The First of His Signs

The wedding in Cana of Galilee. A familiar story about Jesus — in fact, one of the more well-known stories we have of him. He and his disciples and his mother are celebrating with some Canaanites, when a social disaster occurs: the wine gives out. While you or I might be embarrassed to be hosting an event and run out of refreshments, this would have been a public humiliation not soon forgotten by the entire community. Weddings were at the center of cultural life in most first century villages, and the bridal party always did what they could to make it the very best for everyone!

The first thing we notice is the strange — even humorous — exchange between Jesus and his mother. Mary: “They ran out of wine.” Jesus: “They should have planned better.” Jesus: “My hour has not come.” Mary: “Do whatever he tells you.” It is Mary, not Jesus, who sees to it that his public ministry gets underway. And like a good and obedient son, he responds to her initiative.

Careful readers of St. John’s Gospel will notice two important details. First, in John, “Jesus’ hour” is something that happens at the very end of the story, at a place called Golgotha, just outside Jerusalem, where he is crucified. And second, his mother (who is never referred to by name in John — only described by her relationship to Jesus) only appears twice in John’s Gospel: here, in the Cana narrative, and then again (you guessed it) at the foot of his cross. The beginning and ending of his ministry is attended — is attested — by the one who brought him into the world. The ministry which begins with the celebration of love shared at a wedding ceremony in Cana culminates in the image of a Savior who loves enough to give even life itself, in his effort to re-unite us with God.

And perhaps even more importantly, this is the first of a series of signs in John’s Gospel. John never refers to these works of wonder as miracles, because the miraculous nature of these events is not the main point. Instead, they are always intended to point to something else. That something else is faith. Jesus performs these signs so that those who hear of them might come to believe that he is, indeed, who he says he is: the word of God enfleshed, living and loving and ministering among us, as one of us.

John as much as tells us this directly at the end of today’s passage: “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” See what St. John wants us to know: (1) Jesus does this; (2) it is the first of his signs; (3) it reveals his glory; (4) and his disciples believe. If miracles are not the point of these stories, faith certainly is. It reminds us of words located by John closer to the conclusion of his account: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” [St. John 20:30–31]

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel

  1. Why is Jesus’ mother so intent that he act to rescue those who planned this wedding ceremony?

  2. Who knows that Jesus did this (and what might it mean that they are the only ones to know)?

  3. What must the disciples be thinking, especially since this is set so early in the story of Jesus’ ministry?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel

  1. How have I come to understand the importance of Jesus’ death in the arc of his life’s story?

  2. What signs would I point to, that have been instrumental in shaping my faith?

  3. How would I describe what it means that I am a believer in Jesus Christ?