At weddings, wine is more than just a festive beverage – it’s a sign. In the Old Testament, wine was a sign, a symbol, of God’s grace – of joy and abundant blessings and even hope for the future. Wine is an invitation to make merry, with appropriate moderation, of course. Wine is sometimes seen as a sign or symbol of the couple’s joyous future life together; for wine takes time, loving care, patience, and the payoff is down the line, something to enjoy to the fullest extent a little later than right now.
Turning to our text for today, John records for us Jesus at a wedding feast. But all the fun and festivities are soon to come to an end, for the supply of wine has ran out. Obviously things were not well planned, for a wedding feast could last upwards of a week. The last thing you want to do is cancel the wedding feast because you have ran out of wine, and that is exactly what has happened. Mary, Jesus’ mother was a guest also at the wedding and finds Jesus to inform Him that the supply of wine has ran out.
One might wonder why does Mary notify Jesus of this problem. What does she want Him to do? She states the problem and she points to the One who can provide the needed wine. But Jesus’ response is one of “eh.” He says, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My house has not yet come.” In other words, Jesus is saying why is this His problem.
Jesus has an appropriate response. Why is it His responsibility that the host of the wedding feast did not plan accordingly and make sure they had enough wine to last the entire celebration? What is Jesus supposed to do about the problem? Apparently, He is supposed to find another source of wine.
One might deduce that Mary is somehow helping out at the wedding because she tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” She had no idea what Jesus was about to do, but whatever it was, she trusted it to be the right thing. By the way, this is the last direct quotation from Mary in the Bible and they are words that all people should heed, but that’s for another sermon.
Jesus tells the servants to take six stone water jars and fill them up with water. Now each jar could hold between twenty or thirty gallons. That translates into somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons. This was not going to be a short and easy task by any means.
Once the water jars are filled, Jesus commands them to “draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” It’s ironic that these water jars once used for the ritual washing is now turned into the new wine for the wedding feast. In a very symbolic way, we see the old faith coming to an end and the new faith being birthed, all centered on and around Jesus.
What we see take place at the wedding at Cana is the first miracle our Lord performs. Changing the water to wine was a sign that the coming Messiah was here. Somewhere in the process of filling the jars and taking a sample of the water to the master of the feast, the water became wine. It wasn’t just any wine either. The master of the feast was surprised that the groom had waited so long to serve the good wine.
In the grand scheme of eternity, why is it important? Scripture interprets Scripture. John himself tells us of the goal of his Gospel at the end of chapter 20: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Here John reveals the objective of the signs in his account of the Gospel. The signs are there in order to make the case that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. For John knows that faith in Jesus receives eternal life.
The Holy Spirit inspired John to make the point that all of Jesus’ signs point to Jesus as the Anointed One, the Son of God. He is the Anointed One who takes away the sin of the world. He is the Anointed One who takes our sin to the cross and endures the punishment our sins deserve. He is the Anointed One who will give us the greatest sign – the sign of the empty tomb of our risen Savior.
John informs us that this was Jesus’ first sign, the first certification that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. These signs point to the spiritual truth of the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One who took on our flesh, lived among us, and experienced everything that we experience. They reveal Jesus, who, while fully human and like us in every way, except without sin, is also fully God. These miracles are signs that reveal Jesus for who He really is, namely, the Word made flesh, who created all things and who upholds all things in Himself. They reveal the glory of the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ.
In the waters of Baptism, Jesus makes us His own. By His suffering and death on the cross, He has earned the forgiveness of sins. Then by His promise and command, He joins that forgiveness to ordinary water. By His promise and command, baptism delivers the forgiveness of sins from the cross to you. For it is written, “Baptism . . . now saves you.” Baptism is a “washing of regeneration,” a re-creation. We were dead in sin, but Baptism re-creates us in newness of life in Christ Jesus.
In the same manner, the Lord’s Supper is a sign of our redemption in Jesus Christ. The miracle of Jesus’ true body and true blood in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine reveals the mystery of our salvation in a blessed and holy sacramental union with Jesus. Jesus gives His body and His blood into our mouths and so grants us the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus has given signs to us. At Cana, at Calvary, at the empty tomb, in the font, and on the altar, Jesus gives us signs of His glory. In the font, and on the altar, our Lord has given us signs of the renewed creation won for us on the cross at Calvary. Here Jesus reveals that His life and death are ours. Jesus reveals that His body was given for us and His blood was shed for us for the remission of our sins. Jesus reveals to us His glory, the glory of His death for our righteousness. In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.