The Second Sunday after the Epiphany; Year C (1/17/2016)

Lessons:Isaiah 62:1-5 Psalm 36:5-10 (8) 1 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.

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. 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 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.”

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

The First of His Signs

It is no surprise to most of us by now that stories about Jesus sound a bit different in John’s Gospel than they do in the others. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the “Synoptic” Gospels (from “syn" for similar and “optic” for appears; these three Gospels appear similar to one another). John’s Gospel is unique. Fewer parables. Fewer exorcisms. Less talk about the Kingdom of God.

What people have noticed about John’s Gospel is that the first portion of it contains a number of “signs” like the one in this morning’s lesson. Seven actually: (1) turning water into wine, (2) curing the official's son, (3) curing the paralytic, (4) multiplication of loaves, (5) walking on water, (6) healing a blind man, and (7) the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

Interestingly enough, these are never described by John as “miracles.” Instead, he uses the word “signs” — and he treats these signs as works of wonder that are intended to help people come to faith. In fact, towards the end of the Gospel the author makes it clear that this is his intent when he writes: “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]

Beginning in chapter 13 there are no more signs, but now the author turns to the glorification of Jesus — particularly focusing on how Jesus is glorified in his suffering and his death. This week’s Gospel lesson is in the first half of the book, but has elements of both: the signs that are predominant in the first half, and the focus on glory from the second half. The act of changing water into wine is presented as a sign for all to see that Jesus is no ordinary human being. John declares that in this action, the glory of Jesus is revealed. And, finally, we learn that through this sign his disciples come to believe in him.

This first miracle in Cana of Galilee holds the pattern for the entire Gospel account, and in fact is an illustration of what John wants to have happen for us when we read what he has written. He isn’t trying to record a minute-by-minute depiction of history, as though he was a newspaper reporter. His effort is more biased. He is convinced that to believe in Jesus as the Messiah is a life-changing experience. His view is that once someone believes in Jesus, they begin to experience life in an entirely different way. It becomes “life in his name.” And so these accounts — these signs — are composed in a way that helps them to take hold of our hearts, and draw us into a life that is grounded in faith.

We are thankful to St. John for giving us such an account. And we try to learn from him. His effort inspires us to have the same purpose in everything we do. Whether it is worship or education or service or witness or fellowship, everything our church does (or the Christian church, for that matter!), ought to have the purpose of helping people glimpse the glory of God, come to believe in Jesus, and experience the life God wants for us: life in Jesus’ name.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What do the various individuals mentioned in this lesson witness?
  2. How does the Chief Steward respond to this sign?
  3. What does it mean to Jesus’ disciples to be present?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What signs in John’s Gospel have stirred my faith or imagination?
  2. How do I experience the glory of Jesus? What is unique about him for me?
  3. How is my life different because I believe in him?