The Second Sunday of Epiphany January 14, 2007
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
134, 457, 53, 785 [TLH alt.,428]
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.”
In the name of Jesus, the Son of God and our Savior, dear fellow Christians:
I thought I would call the White House next week and invite the President and his wife to join our family for dinner. We could get to know them, and we could discuss concerns that we have as citizens. How successful do you think I will be? I might get as far as the White House switchboard. An operator might even promise to pass the message on to a member of the President’s staff. Under the very best of circumstances I might receive a note on White House stationery informing me that regrettably, the President will not be able to drop by Hales Corners, Wisconsin any time soon because of prior commitments, a busy schedule, security concerns, and dozens of other reasons.
That is completely understandable. I couldn’t fault the President for not coming. He is leading a nation of 300 million other citizens. What chance is there that he would be able to come here? Virtually none. But what if he did? It would be tremendous to have the undivided, personal attention of the leader of the free world.
What is more incredible than that is that we can set our sights even higher! Three times a day at mealtimes many of us pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.” At other times, too, with similar words we ask Jesus, the Lord and God of all to come into our homes and lives. What a tremendous blessing it would be if He came! What a miracle that He does! And so we pray today, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest!”
That was also the invitation of an unknown bride and groom in the little village of Cana, a few miles from Nazareth in Galilee. Jesus cleared His schedule and went. That is amazing all by itself. How many times have you declined an invitation because there were just too many other things you needed to accomplish?
So why did Jesus go? He is the Son of God. He had so much to do in such a short time that was so crucial for the salvation of the world. Why would He take the time to go to this wedding reception? It was not a life or death situation. He was not the officiating minister. He was simply a guest. He came because He cared. He cared about the happiness and well-being of this couple and their guests. They were just ordinary folk, but still Jesus loved them.
At our house this morning we straggled to the breakfast table one by one wearing anything from pajamas or sweats to church clothes. With cereal bowls and the Sunday paper on the table, we folded hands and prayed, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.” I’m not too sure the next door neighbors would ever want to join us for Cheerios, and yet we asked the Lord of all to be our guest! Our homes are not always neat and “company clean.” The people living there are not always kind and on their best behavior. What Jesus sees inside us is hardly inviting either. The Lord says, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19 NIV). We hear that and have to admit, “That’s my heart.” Why would Jesus then even consider spending time with us?
But He does. Just as He cared about the wedding couple at Cana, so He is concerned with your happiness. “I have called you by name. You are mine” (Isaiah 43:1), He says. Every detail of our lives matters to Him. So He tells us, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-30 NIV). Jesus is concerned about the Kingdom, but also the kitchen. He fills the universe, but also is present in our living rooms. He directs the economy of the nation, but also the family budget. He cares so much about us that He not only wants to be our guest, but that we be His guests in the mansions of heaven.
When someone says, “God doesn’t love me. He doesn’t want me to be happy,” it must cut Jesus to the heart. When He wants to be in our homes and hearts, and we ignore Him by neglecting His Word and failing to pray, it must deeply sadden Him. May we take every opportunity to confidently pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Come with Your caring, loving presence and live with us.” We already know His answer: “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age. I will never leave you nor forsake you!” (cf. Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5).
Jesus comes with His caring presence and with His divine glory which supplies our every need. Those present at the Cana wedding experienced that glory firsthand. The festivities were going wonderfully until suddenly the wine ran out. The couple were likely poor and perhaps had arranged for only a minimal amount of wine, hoping that it would last for the week-long event. It was not a life threatening need, but it was extremely embarrassing and could shorten the celebration. Humanly speaking, there was nothing that could be done.
But man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Mary went to Jesus and simply presented the problem. She didn’t presume to tell Him what to do. She trusted He would take care of it. She told the servants, “Just do whatever He says.” At the right moment the Lord told the servants to fill the nearby stone jars with water. “Now,” He said, “take some to the head caterer.” What the host tasted was not fresh well water, but the finest wine. Quietly, unseen to most, Jesus had changed over 120 gallons of water into wine. Jesus, the Maker of all, showed His continuing power over a tiny part of His creation.
He is willing to do the same for us. We have daily needs and shortages. It may be a lack of money to make ends meet, a lack of time to meet all our obligations, a lack of wisdom to make godly decisions, or a lack of hope. We don’t have to work out our own solutions and tell the Lord what needs to be done. Like Mary, we can just tell Him what’s bothering us, and trust that He will take care of it.
When we do, we’ll see His divine glory. We will see it first of all in His perfect timing. Jesus didn’t jump up as soon as Mary mentioned the problem and say, “I had no idea! Why didn’t you say something sooner?” His reply was, “My hour has not yet come.” [v.4] He already knew about the problem and how and when He would step in. With our needs, too, the Lord knows about them and already has in mind a predetermined time to help. We can trust His timing for He can see the end before the beginning.
At the right time we will see His glory as He uses His power to help us. Most often the help does not come in the form of a lightning bolt from heaven or an angel suddenly appearing, but in a quiet, invisible way. Most of the people at the wedding feast did not realize where the wine had come from, but that did not make it any less of a miracle. If you look, you will see Jesus’ miracles in your life too. Has the paycheck ever stretched farther than you thought possible? Have you ever faced debts that seemed insurmountable, and then unexpectedly you received a raise or overtime or a cash gift? Have you ever experienced recovery from an illness or surgery that amazed even the doctors? How did your car stay on the icy freeway when many others were in the ditch? Too often we attribute these things to luck or our own abilities. But they are really evidence of God’s glory in our lives. The longer you live, the more that becomes clear. David looked back on his life and concluded, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25 NIV).
So pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and trust His answers. He says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all your earthly needs will be provided for as well” (cf. Matthew 6:33). It sounds foolish, impossible, even reckless. How can concentrating on spiritual things help in the real world and put food on the table? It’s as foolish as filling pots with water when the wine runs out.
The Lord tells us to support His work willingly and generously through our offerings. He promises that we can never give ourselves poor, because He will always give us more in return. It sounds ridiculous. Simple math proves that if I put $100 in the collection plate, I will have $100 less in the checkbook. It is as certain as the belief that water cannot be turned into wine. Jesus tells us that the key to happiness is in living for Him. It seems like foolishness, because the world says the only way to happiness is following your own will and indulging your own desires. It is as foolish as filling a jar with water and giving some to the host as though it were something special.
Jesus’ miracles did and still do supply the needs of His people. But there is an even greater purpose behind them. John writes, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” [v.11] Later, John said, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
Jesus’ miracles are huge, flashing billboards telling us that Jesus is the one who was sent by God to take care of our greatest need. He came to do more than provide for our earthly well-being. He came to be holy in our place, so we could be credited with His righteousness. He came to take the punishment for all our sins, so we could be forgiven, pronounced justified, and have eternal life with God. The fact that lost, condemned sinners like us can now be God’s beloved children by faith in Christ is the greatest miracle of all!
The next time you pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest,” reflect for a moment on what you are saying. You are expressing the confidence that whether you live in a mansion or a mobile home, whether you are in pajamas or a suit, whether you are famous or a nobody, the Lord is willing to come to you. He comes with His caring presence and assures us in His Word that He will never abandon us, even though we are unworthy sinners. He comes with His divine glory to provide for all our needs, especially to give us the peace of forgiveness and the joy of eternal life. Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest today and always! Amen.
Glorify the Lord with me;
Let us exalt His name together…
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
(Psalm 34:3, 8, NIV)
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.