“The First of Many”

The Second Sunday After the Epiphany (C)
“The First of Many”
January 20, 2019

Sermon Text: John 2:1-11

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from our Messiah, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Epiphany Season continues and with it… in it… so do the epiphanies… the revelations and enlightenment… the coming to know… and this more and more… that Jesus of Nazareth is undeniably the Savior of the world… our Messiah… our Lord… our King.

We have seen how the Christ-Child… this Jesus… was revealed to the shepherds tending their flocks by night by means of an angel and all the heavenly host. We have seen how this holy Infant was revealed to the wise men by means of a magnificent guiding star. We have seen how Jesus was revealed to truly be the Son of God by His own Father… God the Father… whose voice proclaimed as our Lord stepped out of the river Jordan, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

And now, before us, is yet another important means by which Christ’s true identity and glory… His true divinity… is revealed to the world and to us… namely, in the miracles our Lord performs – acts… accomplishments… deeds which no man, no mere mortal could ever do.

So it is our good pleasure this morning, under the gracious guidance of God the Holy Spirit, to consider the very first miracle that our Lord performed while He walked this earth.

The setting is a wedding banquet in the town of Cana, in Galilee. Jesus is there with his disciples and His mother, Mary, is also in attendance. The account of what happens at this festive occasion is well known. They ran out of wine. Certainly, this would be an embarrassment if it happened now. But then… in the prevailing culture of the time, this was far worse. It meant losing face with family and friends. It meant public humiliation.

So what does our loving and compassionate Lord do?  He has the servants fill six, large, stone jars with water… and this they do… to the brim no less. And our Lord miraculously changes the water… all those gallons of water… to wine… and not just any wine, mind you… but rather, the best of wine.

My friends, we all know WHAT Jesus did, but do we really understand WHY He did it and WHAT ELSE we can expect from this Miracle Worker?

As to why Jesus was at this wedding (and do not think for a moment that it was by accident or a coincidence) and why our Lord did what He did… well, it could be said that He was listening to His mother who knew Jesus could help the wedding party out. This is true.

And yes, He certainly helped those who were hosting this wedding celebration save face and avoid disgrace… but the real reason Jesus performed this miracle is found in the last verse of our text. We read, 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)

So that they might believe. So that you… me and all the world might believe. This was the “beginning of the signs” … the first of many miraculous signs which our Lord performed here on earth!  Dear brothers and sisters, throughout both the Old and New Testaments, the miracles of our God are most commonly referred to as “signs.”

“This shall be the SIGN to you,” the angels said to the shepherds on the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

What is a sign, but something that directs you … something that points you toward… something that guides you to… and that is exactly what this sign… this miracle of our Lord in Cana was designed to do… to point you toward… to direct your attention away from the worldly and onto the divine… onto none other than your Savior… so that you may behold His glory as His disciples did at that wedding… and so that you may have faith… come to faith… saving faith… in Him… as did the disciples back then.

It is interesting to note that about a year after this event at the wedding, our Lord was again in Cana… and again, He performs a miracle… this time healing a nobleman’s son even though He was not anywhere near the boy. Jesus was in Cana and the boy was in Capernaum.

And our Lord had this to say, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” (John 4:48) Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe. The signs and miracles were there… Jesus did them so that they… and we… might believe.

Listen to what St. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, had to say as he addressed the crowd that had gathered around them. He said, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, A MAN ATTESTED BY GOD TO YOU BY MIRACLES, WONDERS, AND SIGNS WHICH GOD DID THROUGH HIM IN YOUR MIDST, as you yourselves also know‑‑ Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;  whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”  (Acts 2:22‑24)

Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs. Indeed, my friends, the miracle at Cana was the first of many miracles. Holy Scripture records our Lord performing some 23 acts of healing… another 9 or so  in which He shows His authority over the forces of nature… and there are three instances of our Lord bringing someone back to life… some 35 miracles in all.

That is by no means the sum of everything our Lord did while He was with us. In fact, it is but a small fraction of the miracles Jesus performed. Time and time again, we simply read in Scripture that our Lord healed… He miraculously helped “multitudes” of people.

St. John, in his Gospel also tells us that, “Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  (John 20:30‑31)

That believing in these signs, these miracles… these wonders… we may have life in His name.

Permit me to share with you three other miracles that are important for us to consider because they are, most certainly, the greatest of miracles performed by our loving Lord.

First there is the miracle of God coming to us in the flesh, in Jesus Christ. We, in fact, just pondered this great event during the Christmas Season.

And we will ponder a second miracle on Easter morning and the Sundays to follow… namely, the resurrection of our Lord… in which… and through which… He magnificently and triumphantly demonstrated His victory over death and the grave.

The third miracle? You should know it well because it is the miracle that our Lord performed in you. Some might guess it is the miracle of birth, which is great indeed for we have been fearfully and wonderfully made… but I am referring to the far greater miracle of “rebirth.”

The miracle that took place at your baptism when God Almighty washed your sins away… when He claimed you and named you as His very own… when He created and instilled in you the faith that saves…. the faith that preserves you unto life everlasting.

Do we really appreciate just how miraculous our baptism was and still is … just how miraculous our conversion… our regeneration was and still is? We would, if we but consider how lost we once were… how sin-stained… hopeless and helpless we were.

As those six water jars at the wedding were made of stone… so… at one time… were our hearts. They were as hard as stone… as cold as stone.

And then, Christ comes into our lives… just as He came to that wedding in Cana… and as that wedding was in trouble, having run out of wine… so too, we were in trouble having run out of hope.

That is, until Jesus came and made everything right… until Jesus came and filled our hearts to the brim with His love… just as He filled those vessels to the brim with the choicest of wine.

As the miracle of turning water to wine was the first of many great wonders Jesus performed… so, too, the miracle of Holy Baptism is the first of many great wonders that our Lord has performed in you and me.

You tell me… has there not been times and instances in your life when you know that it was only by the hand of God… by His mercy and grace… that something happened or did not happen… that there was no earthly explanation for what occurred… that there was clearly divine intervention here… God intervening… controlling… guiding… helping…. protecting… all for your ultimate good?

Do you know what, my friends? Stay tuned. There is more to come. You and I still have many more miracles to witness while on this earth and even more after… for there lies before us the miracle of Christ’s second coming… there is the miracle of the resurrection of the dead… the miracle of our bodies that were sown in corruption being raised incorruptible and perfect… the miracle of our ascending and meeting the Lord in the sky… the miracle of going to be with Jesus in paradise and spending eternity in heavenly bliss with Him and with all of our loved one’s who have kept the faith.

It is kind of ironic when you think of it… what started out as a wedding banquet for two people in Cana … a bride and groom who we do not even know… the first of many miracles… will end with a miracle at another wedding banquet… but this time… the place will not be Cana, but heaven itself. This time, we will know both the bride and the groom… for the bride is the Church of which we are part and the Groom is none other than our Lord who comes quickly to take us home.

Consider, if you will, today and throughout this week… the miracles of our Lord…. consider all the miracles He has done and will do in you… through you… and for you.

Consider the One to whom all these wondrous signs point to… and behold His glory… the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth… Jesus, your Savior. Amen.

And now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding and worldly wisdom, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

 “The First of Many” 1/20/19, Rev. Mark H. Hein,  St. Paul’s Ev Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL