Monday, January 18, 2016

Jesus is the Wine of the Wedding Feast

THE BEVERAGE OF THE MESSIANIC AGE


This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.  John 2:11

THE Word of God we just heard is St. John's summary of the miracle at Cana.  The miracle took place just as we read.  Every detail of the account is factual and true, and if that is all there were to it, it would be a breathtaking display of the power and the love that Jesus holds for us, but that is not all there is.  With Scripture in general, and with St. John in particular, we must learn to read between the lines, because like the Super Mario Brothers, there are hidden bonuses waiting to be uncovered.

The same is true about today's epistle lesson.  Many people call it the Bible's marriage catechism and so it is if by it husband and wife learn the love that Christ has for them, and if they, in turn, learn to love, honor and sacrifice for one another, they will have done well, but there is a deeper meaning both in St. Paul and in St. John; one we must not ignore if we wish to attain mature manhood in Christ.

Yes, on first reading we learn many nice things from the Cana wedding.  By our Lord's attendance we discover that God honors marriage, a lesson modern man urgently needs to learn.  We don't consider it a sacrament like Rome does, but it is sacrament-like.  It has outward signs:  the wedding garments, the rings, the rituals, and the change in status in effect before God.  Where originally He made two people, in marriage the two individuals become one flesh and that is a miracle in itself.  They become a new creation, one that calls to mind the church's marriage to Christ Who cleansed her of her sins by His bloody baptism on the cross and by her watery baptism at the font.

Today's gospel also teaches something about prayer.  Unlike the Christian radio crowd we do not offer magical formulas guaranteed to pry God's gifts from His hands, yet we discover a beautiful pattern here from the Lord's mother, one we would do well to imitate.  She did not get worked up in a frenzy over the problem at hand, or storm heaven with her great faith and demand that God reply in kind!  She did not even make a request!  She simply stated the problem to Jesus:  they have no wine.  May your prayers be as pure as you pray to God for the needs of all:  they have no health, they have no peace, they have no money, they have no hope; and you can be certain that God will graciously hear and answer your prayer for the sake of Christ, the holy Groom to Whom we are wed.

From today's gospel we could also learn that God provides richly for every need of body and soul, that He has power over nature, and that He will use it for our advantage, so however impossible your circumstances may be, take heart! because your God is not only almighty but He is also brimming with mercy and He will supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus

Those are obvious lessons, but if we read between the lines we find even more.  John notes that this sign took place on the third day.  Third day is Christian code for the Lord's resurrection from the dead;  His victory over the death He died to take away, to erase and to forever delete the sins humanity has perpetrated, the evils that make men irrational, unreasonable, self-loathing and self-destructive,  the wrongs that are not only painful, harmful, distressing and deadly to others, but that constitute treason, high crimes and misdemeanors against God who creates us, gives His Word to regulate us, and to Whom we owe all glory, laud and honor.

It is clear that John recorded this account as well as many other watery events in his Gospel in order to praise and promote the sacrament of holy baptism.  The water pots filled at the Lord's command bespeak baptism which is much more than a ritual purification, for it connects us to the Lord's death and resurrection and brings all their benefits forward in time to us, each and every day of our lives, and we need that!  We need it because even our highest thoughts, words and deeds are tainted by Old Adam who can never let a single thing remain unspotted or unblemished.

Yet though we have no righteousness of our own to hold forth before God, we do have the imputed righteousness and alien righteousness of Christ that adorns us at baptism and it is enough!  By it we are able to commune with the Almighty and Everlasting God we address in today's Collect and be deemed worthy to obtain every blessing from Him, here in time and there in eternity.

Jesus is the New Wine, incomparably superior to all other, the best served last!  "Late in time behold Him come, offspring of a virgin's womb."  He is Life and Salvation, the rich and abundant blessing of God to man Who imparts luxurious life to all who believe on Him; indestructible life that will never run out, go sour, or ever disappoint.  His blood, factually received with the wine in holy communion, is the beverage of the New Testament and the Messianic age.

Jesus is the glory of God!  The disciples, seeing this sign at Cana, were enlightened, believed on Him and followed in His foot steps.  May we do the same.  May we follow Him into death, burial and resurrection, sacramentally by our baptism and factually by dying to sin each day and rising again to newness of life to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.  Amen.

~ Rev. Dean Kavouras

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