John 2: 1 – 11 (Epiphany 2 - 2016)
“When Jesus is our Guest”
“Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let these gifts to us be blessed.” Each time we say that prayer we invite Jesus to be the guest of honor at our meal. We acknowledge that everything we have is because of his blessing. From the food, the family, the fellowship and to our faith; all are the results of his gracious presence, not only at our tables but in our entire lives.
In our lesson today, Jesus was invited to a wedding celebration. What greater guest could this wedding have! He saved the day by preserving the wine supply, not to mention that he is very presence must have been a true joy to experience. There is much more than food and celebration in the Gospel lesson today. We see the Son of God mingling with a common human experience. The giver of good gifts: “revealed his glory and the disciples put their [trust] in him.”
1. We Receive the Best Gifts.
We don’t know much about who the wedding couple was, or what connection Jesus had to the family. We know that his mother and close friends were welcomed there. Jewish wedding celebrations often went on for days. This gave family and friends ample time for travel and accommodations to greet the new couple and their guests. The “master of the banquet,” likely the father of the bride, was responsible for seeing to the details of the celebration. A problem occurred. The wine ran dry. This was not just an embarrassment to the family. It was loss of a staple meal element. Wine and water were as basic to them as our “coffee, tea or milk.”
Mary called it to the attention of her Son. She was respectfully reminded of her place. Jesus then instructs the servants to fill ceremony jars (large vases) with water. The water, now changed to wine, is brought to the master. He says: “you have saved the best till now.” Jesus did not just change water to wine. He turned water into the finest wine. It was really good! What a great wedding present! The wedding celebration continued as planned. The embarrassment of the bridal party was prevented. Life was good.
How often do we find ourselves lacking! How helpless we are spiritually, running out of spiritual drink! Because of our many sins and our guilt we dry up spiritually! Oh, the spiritual predicaments we get ourselves into! Our sinful lives lead us to empty jars of clay. We feel the wait of regrets. They embarrass us. We try to deceive ourselves and others. We try to get by without spiritual strength. We water down the truth. We seek to convince those around us that everything is OK. Deep down we know that we are hurting. We know that we are battling, and sometimes losing to temptations that haunt us day by day. Where to turn?
David cries out in the Psalms “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon my; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord – and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32: 4-5).
Jesus rescues us from the embarrassment of our sin and guilt. He knows how to give good gifts. He gives the best. He gives himself. The Lord of glory revealed himself as the provider of all things. He comes to us in Jesus his Son. He gives his life on the cross. He pays the wedding bill to forgive the guilt of our sins. He opens up the Scriptures to us. They richly supply us with the spiritual drink of the Holy Spirit. He washes us clean in Baptism and leads us to repentance and trust. He leads us to springs of living water (Psalm 23). He gives us his body and blood in the bread and wine of his Holy Supper. In that Supper, he calls out to us and says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed are those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 34: 8). He gives us life, and health and peace. What great gifts our Guest, Jesus, gives to us!
He also supplies us with all that we need for our existence in this life. He teaches us to be content with and thankful for the showering of blessings: food, drink, shelter, friendship, love, peace, family, protection, and list countless daily bread blessings! What a blessing it is to have him as our ever-present guest as he leads us to faith in our daily lives. The Guest at Cana’s wedding gives us a banquet of blessings. They are always a free gift of his grace. They are given without our asking. They are given in generous portions.
2. Our Heart Have Peace.
This was the first publicly recorded miracle in his ministry. The disciples “put their [trust] in him.” Every miracle that Jesus performed is a clear reminder for us, and for those who witnessed them, that Jesus is the Son of God. As he changed water to wine, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, calmed the storm, raised the dead, and so on, we are assured that he is the one who was to come. He is also is the one who promises, “I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20) He says, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). His divine work in our humanity instills in our hearts faith to believe in him and trust in his help.
When I look at Gospel lessons like today, I am reminded that it was Jesus who wanted to come to earth and be one of us and one with us. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of this universal comfort: He came to “share in our humanity” (Hebrews 2:14). Going to a wedding was something he was willing to do. Jesus wants to be the Guest of his people. He desires to be our Guest.
He wants to be a part of your daily lives. He wants to be at your weddings, and remain in your marriages. He wants to be present with us in our lives of faith. He wants to be the guest at our meal tables, in our private conversations, in our daily prayer life. He wants to be with us when we are sick, sad, hungry, tired, and thirsty. He wants to celebrate with our celebrations, to be a part of our joy, to be the source of our comfort. He wants to be our strength when tempted to sin. He wants to heal us spiritually when we fall. He cares about the concerns of our vocational lives. He attends us when we visit the sick and dying. He sits next to us at the grave of our loved ones. He wants to guide our conversations with other people. He loves to be the center of our ministry as a congregation, our constant, invited Guest and Host. He with us … you … always!
Being present with us, leads us to stronger faith. It reminds us where the focus of our faith and life is – On Him. It is through his Word and Sacraments, the very gifts he has given to us, his “Bride,” that he is present with us. As he led the disciples to trust him, he leads us to trust him. Like the disciples we are glad to walk with him as followers. We are glad to trust his wisdom, and obey his commands, for that is how we show our love to him – our “Groom.”
This is his relationship with you: “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself, as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25- 27).
FAITHand TRUST are different but related. I am certain that the followers of Jesus had already been brought to faith in Jesus as Savior. This early miracle strengthened their daily trust Him for specific circumstances of life. This was the beginning of many teachable moments in their lives that increase their trust in him. I am certain there was a sigh of relief from the banquet master. He held a new found peace of mind and heart knowing that this particular problem was solved by Jesus.
So it is with us. The Holy Spirit has brought you to faith in Jesus. You have a saving faith that knows that heaven and salvation are yours because of Him. I am certain there have been numerous sighs of relief through your lives as the Lord Jesus has resolved troubling events in your lives. As he remains our daily guest and grants us the best of his gifts, he is also increasing our peace of mind and heart. He his leading us to a firmer trust in him for the stuff of our lives. With each stretch of road, rough or smooth, you are led to a more confident prayer life, faith life, and trust … a trust in Jesus that he is your constant Guest and he does give your troubled heart peace in every situation.
When Jesus is our Guest, we receive the best gifts, and day by day, until the Heavenly Wedding Feast, we are blessed with hearts of peace that rest in his solid promises. “Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guests, and let your gifts to us be blessed.” Amen.