When Jesus was baptized, he publicly identified himself as the Savior who would take away our sins. John pointed to him and proclaimed: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
The next day Jesus began to gather disciples and teach them about life in the Kingdom and on the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee where Jesus’ first miracle turned shame into joy-- and lack into plenty.
Here, in just a few short verses at the beginning of his Gospel, the Apostle John tells the story of our salvation: that the One who was in the beginning, the One who was God took on flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, became our sin bearer so that our lives in his kingdom would be filled to overflowing with all the blessings of God.
Throughout the New Testament a wedding feast is the picture of the fulfillment of Jesus’ work-- and rich, abundant wine is the sign of rich, abundant life. It is not an accident that that Jesus’ first miracle points to the culmination of his saving work in providing us with new life of overflowing blessings in his kingdom. The Bible says that:
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
Before we talk about what happened with this young couple at Cana in Galilee-- I want to talk about what happened in Eden with another young couple named Adam and Eve so that you can see the difference that Jesus makes.
When God created man and established marriage, Adam and Eve found delight in one another. They were not ashamed in one another’s presence. There was no conflict between them. This is what God intended every marriage to be.
But we know the rest of the story don’t we—how sin wrecked God’s perfect creation beginning with the life that Adam and Eve shared with one another as husband and wife? With sin came blame and recrimination-- where before there was love and respect.
But God stepped in to help. He promised that he would continue to bless marriage and send a Savior who would re-make and restore everything that sin and evil had destroyed.
Then he did something that had never been done before—he shed the blood of a living creature and clothed Adam and Eve with its skins to hide the shame they felt in one another’s presence—and in this sacrifice he gave a picture of what the Savior would do with the sin that destroyed creation and his good gift of marriage.
Many thousands of year later, Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan, identified with our sin, was proclaimed as the sin-bearing Lamb of God and attended a wedding in Cana of Galilee where a son of Adam and a daughter of Eve faced a problem that would begin their marriage in shame and blame.
They ran out of wine. They ran out of win. Now maybe we say to ourselves—big whoop—serve the sherbet punch and life will go on.
But that’s not how it worked in that culture. Wine was not just suggested at a wedding—it was expected—and to run out of wine was to begin your marriage with a scandal that would define your relationship from that time on.
You can imagine what would have come next can’t you? The blame: “I told you to get more wine”! “I thought you were handling that”! “Your mother never plans for enough”. “Don’t bring my family into this this—it’s all your extra relatives that made us run out”! And in the blame and recrimination they would be just like every other married couple.
Except that God had promised a Savior who would restore and re-make what sin had destroyed—a Savior who began his saving work at the exact place that sin had begun its destructive path—with a marriage. The Bible says that:
Jesus said to her [that is, his mother], “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
For almost as many translators as there are, there are that many translations of this passage from the Greek. What is there in the Greek is this: Woman, what to me and thee. Sadly our text follows many other English translations by having Jesus ask: What does this have to do with me? But that is just the opposite of what Jesus is saying!
Beck gets it right. Jesus says: Will you leave that to me! In other words, Jesus says to his mother: this situation is not going to be fixed by me and thee—but by me!
That is why Jesus addresses his mother as: woman. He is not being disrespectful- but he is reminding her not only who he is-- but he is reminding her WHO SHE IS as the WOMAN of Genesis 3. God promised Adam and Eve the one who would undo Satan’s evil work and restore and re-make creation was the Offspring of THE WOMAN.
Here’s the point: to know who John the Baptist was as the forerunner of the Messiah is to know who Jesus is as the Savior. To know who Mary is as the woman of Genesis 3 is to know who her Son is as the destroyer of Satan’s work and the re-newer of God’s good gifts.
Jesus was the One who would accomplish his mission and no one else (not even his mother) and he would not be carried along at the mercy of forces beyond his control but his mission would go forward at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way to accomplish the salvation of the world.
Mary needed to understand that-- and she did. St. John the Apostle writes: His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
There are no suggestions from her as to what Jesus ought to do—no helpful hints as how to make this embarrassing situation right. Mary was content to take him the problem and leave it at his feet and trust him with the results. And not only does she offer Jesus the obedience of faith—she calls upon all of his servants to do the same. She is an example to us all!
Do whatever he tells you. Mary’s words are still spoken to the servants seated here today in these pews. Do whatever he tells you. No “yes, buts”. No trying to have our own way. No trying to find a reason why in this instance the words of Jesus can be ignored.
Is this easy? No! But Jesus asks his servants to trust him just like Mary and his other servants did that day. The Bible says that:
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.
When Jesus commanded the servants to fill those water jars they must have thought to themselves—this guy has lost his mind! This is just going to make things worse! Was he really going to serve water to all these guests and bring shame upon this couple?
But the words of the Blessed Mother of our Lord must have been ringing in their ears: do whatever he says. They ring in our ears too!
Does Jesus really expect me to forgive and keep on forgiving? Is he really asking me to stop worrying and start trusting him when I’ve got all these things on my mind? Should I really give no thought to my material needs and trust him to provide? At the heart of all of these questions is this: can Jesus be trusted? The answer from Cana is yes! The Bible says that:
When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
There are really two different parts of this miracle: what the servants knew in terms of hundreds of gallons of water being turned into wine—and what the master of the feast knew in the unexpected goodness of the wine—together, a miracle of both quantity and quality.
The Word who called the world into being at the beginning—the Word through whom all things were made—once again touched his sin-ruined creation with gifts and blessings that were abundant and rich and overflowing and good-- so that as creation was in the beginning, it was restored and renewed that day at Cana by its Creator.
In the presence of the One who gave Adam and Eve to one another as husband and wife, this young couple would never know the shame of their poverty. Their names would never become a watchword in the community for failure. Their lives with one another would begin as God intended: with delight in one another and gladness in God’s provision.
On the third day at Cana in Galilee Jesus showed what he would do on the third day at an empty hillside grave: giving us the gift of life—life that is good—life in his presence—just like it was in the beginning. A life he wants us to share with others.
The wine that Jesus created by his almighty word was much more than the wedding guests would consume—it was a gift of plenty that could be shared with others in their community so that they too could hear of their Savior and receive his gifts. That Bible says that:
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
It wasn’t an accident that this was his first miracle- or that it was done at a wedding in Cana of Galilee- or that it was accomplished on the third day. Jesus did it this way so that his disciples could see his glory and believe in him and share him with others. May God grant the same to us this day! Amen.