Good morning. Good to be back. Today I have decided to preach on John Chapter 2 verse 1-11. The title of my sermon is “incredible moments at a wedding night.” Let’s read it “…”
There are some powerful lessons in this text today; however, I don’t think we can see these lessons clearly until we understand the setting.
The setting is a wedding feast. Now you know each country has its own wedding traditions. Weddings in Palestine are quite different than ours as you know, but they were even more different in the days of Jesus.
Marriages during that time were almost always prearranged. The parents of both parties being married would get together and negotiate to arrange the marriage. In our cultures we choose our mates, but it was not so in the Palestinian culture of that day. In small communities, most of the people would know in advance who their children would marry. They could watch the children grow and think, “one day this couple will be husband and wife.” They would watch them through the years until finally it would come time for the children to be wed.
It would be the groom’s family responsibility to provide a public feast. Due to the excitement across the community almost everyone would come to the wedding. It would sometime last as long as 7 days. The wedding ceremony took place in the evening after this feast, after which the couple would be taken to their new home. This would happen when it was dark and they were taken through the village streets by the light of torches with a canopy over their heads. They would be taken through the village on the longest road so that as many people as possible could wish them well. Once they arrived at home they would withdraw for the night, but there was no honeymoon trip. The next day they opened their house again, but they wouldn’t mind. They would wear bridal robes and crowns on their heads and they were treated as king and queen. They didn’t have to do anything, and their words were treated as law. In a life surrounded by poverty and physical labor, this week of frivolity and joy was incredibly special.
The groom’s family would take great pride and would take great care to mind all miniscule details. Wine was an essential. They did not drink this wine to get drunk however. Drunkenness was looked down upon, and was prevented through watering down the wine. No, to these people, wine was a symbol of hospitality which was a sacred duty in the East. In our context, we find that the wine was waning. Did the family have money problems? Did they stretch the wine to the max by heavily watering it down or only filling the goblets half full? A terrible humiliation was about to happen to the family of the groom, but Jesus and Mary are there.
In an effort to spare this family social disgrace and family embarrassment Mary said to Jesus, “do something!” Remember since Jesus miraculous birth she has heard of the future glory of her son, she has received visions about him, she has heard angels and witnessed his remarkable development. Now she expects him to rise to the occasion and fill the need.
You see with Jesus all is possible. When Jesus comes into situations or people’s lives, new possibilities develop. When he is brought into a situation, hope always follows. Look at John 2, it seems hopeless, but because Jesus was there, what was hopeless suddenly became hopeful. That which was impossible is now possible. With Jesus there is always hope. Our life with him is full of hope; and Mary has no doubt about her son’s abilities. So she begs him, “Do something!”.
But he hesitates…he says, “Woman, dear woman, why do you involve me?” This term “woman” is a term of endearment. It carried the idea of great respect.
In Homer it is the title by which Odysseus addresses Penelope; he loved his wife dearly. Augustus the Roman Emperor addressed ? With this term. But though he cared for her, he was slow in answering her plea.
Why was Jesus answering this way? I think that he is answering this way because he knows that if he fulfills this need, his life will never be the same. He won’t be able to turn back the clock. When his glory is revealed, he will have passed the point of no return, and the die will be cast. The clock will be wound and start ticking down to the final hour of his destiny. If he performs this miracle he will set in motion the gears that will ultimately kill him.
I want to read an excerpt from a Ken Gire comment on this matter:
“No, after this one wedding, the small-town seclusion of his life would be forever behind him. For the next three and a half years. His only time to himself would be stolen moments in an olive grove before dawn or snatches of quiet on a barren knoll after dark. Fellowship with his father would then come only at the expense of sleep, so great were the needs of the people who would press about him during the day in so many cities, on so many hillsides, and by so many seashores. Everywhere he would go, Jesus would become the embroidered gossip of women and the anvil of debate among men. With scribal precision every jot of Jesus teaching would be tested against the touchstone of rabbinic tradition. Everywhere he would go, communities would bob in his wake, sending unsettling ripples thought-out Palestine.”
But just as he will later submit to his fathers request at Gethsemane he now submits to his mothers request at Cana and with trembling hands he accepts the cup. He orders the servants to fill jugs with water and without a word from his lips, and without a touch from his hands, he wills the water to become wine. In the sacred presence of that thought, the water prostrates itself and obeys, becoming wine. Not just any kind of wine, but the best.
What are the Lessons I see in this text?
First one is this: a disciple is not called to boredom. You see, we have an attitude sometimes in the church where we look down upon fun. You can’t laugh, you can’t run, you can’t joke, you can’t play. If you want my point of view, it all starts in childhood. Those of you who grew up in the church, what was the first thing you mother said to you when you came to church as a child? Now be serious now. Stop giggling.
To be honest, I grew up in a way that I felt I was at a cemetery in a funeral. I had to watch out for everything I did and everything I said!
Now don’t misunderstand me, I don’t believe in children acting up during sermons. I don’t believe in children destroying church property. I do think, however, there has been this attitude in the church that killed the cheerful spirit, which has forced whispering, “Watch out, we are in a cathedral!” But we read in scripture the house of the Lord is a house of Joy!
You look at Jesus and he was perfectly at home at a party. He was not a severe Joy-killer. He loved to share in happy rejoicing. He even brought 5 friends with him. You see we don’t need to be suspicious of all joy and happiness. We are not called to be gloomy wherever we go. Religion is not a thing of black clothes, lowered voices and expulsion of social fellowship. No sir! Jesus was not like that.
CH Spurgeon writes about people who misunderstand this concept. He says, “Some men appear to have a white cravat twisted around their souls, their humanity is throttled with that starched rag!” There is a time to mourn but there are times to rejoice. The man who doesn’t understand this and doesn’t seek balance will never be an affective soul winner.
“An individual who has no geniality about him better be an undertaker and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living.” So lets be a happy people. Remember you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. More souls will be led to heaven by a man who wears heaven on his face than by one who wears torture in his looks! Jesus never counted it a crime to be happy provided it was not out of balance, so why should his followers do so?
A disciple is not called to boredom.
Note where the feast took place. In Cana.
Cana was a village in Galilee of which Jerome said: “It’s light at night could be seen from Nazareth!” So for Jesus, Cana was at home. He grew up next door to it! What I see is there with his mother and close friends he gave his best. He manifested his glory. To him home was a place where nothing but his best could do. God helps me learn from that.
There is such a contradiction sometimes in our attitudes. We admit and proclaim to everyone that there is no more precious place in all the world as home but yet we claim the right in our homes to act in a way far more discourteous, far more boorish, far more selfish, far more impolite than we would dare in the presence of strangers. So many of us treat the ones we love most in a way we would never dare treat an acquaintance. Shame on us if it’s so. Shame on us if strangers see us at our best, but those who live with us see us at our worst. May God help us never be like that.
A disciple is called to give his best at home.
A disciple is called to serve in big ways even in small occasions. Think about it.
Where did Jesus reveal his glory for the 1st time? It was worthy of being shown in the greatest places of this world. He could have revealed it at the imperial palace of Rome. He could have revealed it at Herod’s temple or at the colonnade acropolis in Athens. But he didn’t. Instead he picked an impoverished village of Cana nestled away in an obscure corner of Galilee.
Oh how I love my savior God who can relate with me a member of the small people. He comes without fanfare, footlights, and theatrics in humility. He works silently with power behind the scenes in the hour of need. Look at the purpose of his miracle. He didn’t perform this miracle to fulfill a thirst for greatness but to ease a dear woman’s anxiety. To move a couple of starry eyed newlyweds from embarrassment and to provide impoverished parents with a little relief.
His heart goes out in great ways even in small events like these.
Oh do I have that sympathy, that kindness, that understanding for simple folk like Jesus? Am I willing to serve in great ways even in small occasions? You see everyone can do the big things on big occasions but it takes Jesus and his spirit to do big things on a simple occasion. You know what most of us probably would have done? Turn the misfortune of this couple into a great gossip and slander session. With our natural tendencies we would have made a great story of it! It is by such deeds of understanding, by simple acts of kindness that we too can show we are followers of Christ the mighty king and the greatest of all servants.
I want to end with this last point. Look again at the story. What kind of wine does Jesus produce? The best of wines.
This is perhaps the greatest sermon here. You see the most important lesson of all I see is that Jesus demonstrated here what he could do with any life. He can touch the waters of our boring pitiful life and transform them into the finest of wines. He can give quality to what had no quality.
Let me tell you today if you are without Jesus no matter what you say and what you think your life is dull, stale and flat. You want to find joy, you want to sparkle and be vivid? Invite him in. It is thrilling and exhilarating.
When Sir Wilfred Crembell was appealing for volunteers in Laborador, he wrote this, “I cannot promise you much money, but I promise you the time of your lives!” You see that’s what Jesus promises you.
But to know it you must obey him. Look at the text: the servants at the party had to do what he said, and they did. They were so willing they filled their Jars to the brim with water. That’s the kind of obedience that finds reward. Not half obedience, but full obedience. Whole-hearted obedience.
If you haven’t done that today I invite you to do so. Repent and be baptized. Then rejoice, wear heaven on your face. Give your best in and out of the home. Serve in big ways even in small occasions. If you need to respond today, why don’t you as we stand and sing?