January 17, 2016
Rev. Ross Mahan; Pastor
Lord God Heavenly Father meet with us this day by Your Word through Christ our Savior.
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
- In our Gospel reading Jesus was attending a wedding in Cana along with Mary His mother and the disciples. His presence at this wedding reminds us that God created marriage. He created it before the fall, at a time when Adam and Eve loved God and one another perfectly; marriage is God’s gift to mankind, one man and one woman joined together for life, till death do us part. After Adam was created the Lord knew he was in need of something. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet (suitable) for him (Gen. 2:18). God created the family, the place where children would be born, nurtured, and prepared to take their place in the world. Nothing can take the place of a biological father and mother in the life of a child. This is why man has no right to redefine marriage to suit his own selfish desires. The Bible condemns homosexual Marriage. It is wrong, destructive, and destined to fail. The true Church must remain faithful to the Bible’s definition of marriage, family, and life in this world lest we fall under His judgment. Marriage is not a sacrament but a gift from God given for our benefit. Christ has promised to dwell with His people until the end of time The Wedding of Cana is a reminder that Jesus is with us at every stage of our lives, present in all of our joys and celebrations and present in all of our disappointments and grief. What is the meaning of Christ’s presence with us in our lives?
- Jesus is with us in every circumstance. He is the silent witness to all the events of our life. He was a guest at your wedding. The Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, she is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant (Mal. 2:14). God heard the vows you made on your wedding day and though many have forgotten the covenant they made that day He still remembers. God keeps His covenant with us and He expects us to keep the covenant we made with our spouse. Every young girl dreams of her wedding day when she will dazzle all the wedding guests with her radiant beauty, but a wedding back in Jesus’ day was quite different. In Western weddings the bride is the one celebrated. When she walks down the aisle the whole congregation stands, the organ plays and every eye is on her. But in Eastern weddings the groom was the focus, the bride merely showed up for the ceremony. In those days the man paid for the whole wedding which could last for two or three days, sometimes as long as a week. All of the relatives from both sides of the family would come together for eating and drinking. There are times to rejoice and celebrate with feasting and wine. No one can say the Bible forbids all wine drinking. The wine served at a Jewish wedding was intoxicating, the idea that Jesus made high grade grape juice at Cana is ridiculous. Jesus was able to enjoy food and wine at a wedding without sin, and He desires us to do the same.
- One of the purposes for marriage is bringing children into the world and into the Kingdom of God through Holy Baptism. The Lord is with us when our children are born. When my first daughter was born, the hospitals had just started letting fathers into the delivery room rather than stay out in the waiting area. I personally preferred the old system, just call me when it’s over, but there I was with Carla watching her give birth to my daughter Kara. For some reason we assumed we were having a boy and had not even picked out a girl’s name, that’s how certain we were, but the Lord surprised us. I’ll never forget leaving the hospital that day to take a walk and try to clear my head and to think about a name and though I don’t place much confidence on feelings, I’ll never forget how much I felt God’s presence at that moment. It was overwhelming. I knew He was with me. The Lord blessed us with three more children and I got a boy the next time. The children God gives us are born in sin so parents have the privilege of bringing their children to the waters of Baptism to wash away their sins. And as they grow up in the home they are to teach them the Word of God and the Catechism from their earliest years, teaching them that they are children of God by faith through their baptism into Christ. The Sacrament of Baptism cleanses the child from sin but the Lord tells us to train our children in His Word and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:3).
- The Lord is with us as our children grow up and even though we are sinful, weak and in need of mercy, the Lord sanctifies our marriage and blesses our homes with His presence. This is why we keep coming back to church each week to hear again the reality of our sins, our need of Christ and the promises of the Gospel. In the Divine Service the Lord meets with parents and children through His Word and Sacrament and the fellowship of His people. The Lord was there when your children graduated from high school and that day when your daughter called home to tell you she had met a boy and wanted to know if she could bring him home to meet her parents. Fathers should not necessarily pick husbands for their daughters, but they should definitely maintain veto power. Only a father knows what it feels like to stand in the back of the church his daughter holding his arm about to walk down the aisle together at her wedding and the thoughts that race through your head. It seemed like just yesterday she was running around the yard but now she had grown up, getting married and beginning a new home. And you realize once again the reality of God’s promise: Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee (Deut. 31:6). The Lord is with you every step of the way, in every celebration, at every milestone, and even in times of affliction and trial He walks with us each day.
- And He promises to be with us on our deathbed and all the way to glory. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Ps. 23:4). O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee (Is. 43:1-2). Jesus is with us when things go wrong like they did that day at the wedding. Mary came to Jesus with bad news: They have no wine. This was a social disaster; the absolute worst thing that could have happened to this young couple. Jesus had not performed any miracles up until this time but it is clear Mary expected Her Son to do something about it. When Jesus replied: Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come, He was saying: You don’t understand, if I perform a miracle it does not signal the hour of my glory (a reference to His death on the cross). Mary is satisfied with His answer and tells the servants: Do whatever He tells you to do. What happened next is one of the most glorious miracles recorded in the Bible. Jesus told the servants to fill six large stone jars with water, draw some out and take it to the man in charge of the feast. Without a prayer, a word of command, or even touching the water it was turned into wine.
- Jesus is Lord over every circumstance. Jesus isn’t just a passive bystander observing the events of our lives; He is the sovereign God of the universe who has all power in heaven and on earth and is intimately involved in every detail of our life. He is with us when we fall into sin and are in need of His mercy as He continually calls us back to His grace and favor. He knows how often we sin against our spouse, the times we are selfish and unkind, when we lose our temper and His Spirit convicts us, gently leading us to repentance and confession of our sins in order to receive forgiveness. Christ is the sovereign Lord of Creation, the author and finisher of our faith and the true Church is the bride of Christ. If you are one of His sheep who hear His voice and follow Him He has promised that you will never perish, and no one will pluck you from His hand. When the lion came and took a lamb out of David’s flock, David arose and delivered the lamb out of his mouth and Christ will do the same. Not a single sick lamb in Christ’s flock shall ever perish. He will say to His Father on the last day, Of them which Thou gavest Me I have lost none (Jn. 18:9). Fear not! The gates of Hell will never prevail against your soul for greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Do not be anxious about the future. Christ is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. The Good Shepherd will continue to guide you, to feed you, and to provide your every need.
- Do not worry about corrupt politicians or the wolves in sheep’s clothing, Christ will provide for His Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Christ is the sovereign Lord of the world though our eyes cannot see it. We walk by faith not by sight. The same Lord who had the power to turn water into wine when the waves were breaking into the ship where He was and the terrified disciples woke Him up crying for help, He arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea: Peace be still and the wind ceased and there was a great calm. He is the merciful Savior to whom the sinner is urged to flee and is invited to trust. He is the Almighty God who has power to give eternal life to all who believe. When your heart is tossed to and fro like the stormy sea, when you can find no rest, I urge you to look to the One who alone can give you rest. Jesus has the power to say to your heart, whatever its condition, Peace be still. And when your conscience is torn as you remember your sins, and you are attacked by countless temptations, and when your heart seems full of evil and sin tries to convince you that you are a slave, there is One who can give you pardon and peace. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can rebuke the devil’s raging sea and calm your soul’s misery with the words: Peace be still. He can scatter the clouds of guilt that weigh you down and drive away fear. He can remove the spirit of bondage and fill you with a Spirit of adoption.
- Satan may hold you captive like a strong man armed, but Jesus is stronger than the devil and when He commands, the prisoner must go free. Go to Jesus, cry unto Him, and He will forgive, strengthen, and refresh you. Jesus will manifest Himself to you as clearly as He did to His disciples at the wedding that day. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. God has revealed Himself to man in the person of His Son whom He sent into the world to save us from our sins. He gives us understanding of His Word. We are not left to our own ideas about God for He comes to us in the Word of the Gospel, the Waters of Baptism, and in Bread and Wine of Holy Communion, a better wine than He created for the guests at Cana, for in His Holy Supper He offers and seals to you His Body and Blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. The disciples were beginning to realize that Jesus was the God-Man who had power over all creation, the ruler over the natural world, and He could handle anything that happened in their life. If He had the power to take ordinary water and make wine, He could provide everything they needed for this life and the next. The presence of Christ sanctifies everything that happens in your life. The presence of Christ with us each day is the secret to true courage before men. We have no reason to be ashamed of Christ for He was not ashamed of us on the cross.
- Keep your lives free from covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me (Heb. 13:5-6). Our Savior is with us in every circumstance, every event, every milestone of our life, rejoicing with us in times of joy and comforting us in our sorrows and disappointments. Here is the secret to true Christian contentment and joy. Christ the Savior and Creator of the world is with us. He is our helper, we need not fear what man can do to us. He gives us courage to walk with Him in the Church and in the world, He gives us the courage to be faithful to the covenant we made with our spouse so many years ago, and the courage to trust Him to provide everything we need in our family, our church and our nation. God created marriage, Christ redeemed it, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies and strengthens it. The sovereign Lord Jesus Christ will preserve His true church on the earth in spite of false prophets and violent religions. He is able to renew His church on earth and restore His Word to His people just as He does here each week. Let us pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send a true Reformation to the churches. The Lord will protect our nation and provide for us not because we deserve it, but because of His great mercy toward His people. He alone is able to answer our deepest needs in an instant just as He turned ordinary water into the wine by His grace and power. May the Lord give us this assurance for Christ’s sake; Amen.