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What A SIGN!

January 17, 2016


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Second Sunday after the Epiphany                     Trinity Lutheran Church

17 January 2016                                                      Murdock, NE


+Jesu Juva +


John 2:1-12


So much in the text today! Loads and loads! I can’t unload everything on you. I’d like to but that would take a couple of hours. I can’t do that to you. If I did, word would leak out and the authorities would arrest and jail me for cruel and unusual punishment. But before the sheriff ever showed up at my door you would have already given me my walking papers. Well, I love to preach God’s Word and I love being here with you, so I will use my freedom in Christ to limit the sermon today. Have mercy on me, your pathetic, foolish and soon to be in the retirement home pastor.


Are you ready? Good. Here goes.


“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.” Jesus, His mother Mary and His disciples are all there. So far so good. Everyone’s having a whale of a time. Then comes the bummer. The wedding party runs out of wine! Zero. Zilch. Nada. Jesus, however, saves the party! He changes the water into wine. Not just any kind of wine but the very best. Tons of it after everyone’s three sheets to the wind!


There you have it, then. Jesus isn’t a party pooper. He’s a party saver who loves to have a good time with the boys. You’d hang with a pastor like that, right? That’s the point of the story, right?


Well, NO! Not hardly. Not even close. Look a little closer. Listen a bit better to the text. The miracle of changing water into wedding wine is called a “SIGN.” And it happens on the “THIRD DAY.” More on THIRD DAY in a moment. Save that to your memory bank because we’ll come back to it.


For now: SIGN. Water changed miraculously into wedding wine at Cana is the first and chief of the signs that Jesus did in St. John’s gospel. SIGN here means an event filled with meaning. The miracle is a revelation. An epiphany. A manifestation. Or as the marquee outside the south door of the church puts it: it unwraps Christmas gift Jesus. In the Gospel according to St. John a SIGN brings to light something that is hidden.


What, then, needs to be brought to light? Revealed? Manifested? The answer is: JESUS! The miracle brings Jesus to light. The miracle reveals who Jesus is. He is God. God in the flesh! Or as St. Matthew puts it: Immanuel – God with us – to save us from our sins. The water into wine miracle also reveals why the eternal Word Jesus took on flesh and pitched His tent among us. He did it to be God FOR YOU. To be God FOR YOUR SALVATION! In addition, that by believing in Him you have the salvation He Good Friday-ly wins!


Listen carefully again to the text. “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”


There are seven SIGNS in John’s gospel. The seventh is the raising of Lazarus from the dead and then immediately comes Jesus’ “hour of glory”: His bitter suffering, death and resurrection from the grave.


Again, check out what the text says: “And his disciples believed in him.” That’s huge. In fact, it’s the entire central theme of the Bible. It’s spelled: F-A-I-T-H! Getting people – getting you — to the FAITH POINT. But not faith in faith. It’s faith in Jesus! Faith in Jesus who pulled off a Good Friday and an Easter Sunday! Faith alone in Good Friday Jesus is what saves sinners from God’s wrath and eternal damnation. Do you believe in Him? If you don’t, it’s high time you did!


And for that – for bringing you to faith in Him — to strengthen your faith in Him — and to keep you always trusting in Him — Jesus pulls off the water into wedding wine miracle. Now you see Jesus in a new light. Jesus is God in the flesh FOR YOU!


AND MORE! Oh, so much more! With this miracle is the SIGN that Jesus has brought about a new creation. Yes, that’s right. I said a new creation. A redeemed and restored creation that was wrecked and ruined by Adam and Eve’s sin of unbelief and rebellion against Creator God.


Check it out. Note the parallels between the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, and the first chapter of John’s Gospel. This will joyfully blow you away! Mind bogglingly bringing you to the FAITH point.


You’re ready for that, aren’t you? Sure you are. So here goes. The water into wedding wine miracle is the conclusion of a series of seven days in John’s gospel. Seven days! Does that sound familiar? It should. Remember Genesis 1? In how many days did God create all the very good in the beginning stuff of the world and the universe and then have a Sabbath rest? Yes, that’s right: SEVEN DAYS! So, John begins his gospel just like Moses begins the creation story in Genesis. In fact, John’s first words (John 1:1) are the exact same words in Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning.”


There are more parallels. In chapter 1, John identifies Jesus as God, the One through whom all things were created in Genesis 1. Just as the first verses of Genesis tell God creating light and separating it from darkness, so John’s first verses speak of Jesus as the light shining in the darkness. Also, in the beginning of Genesis “the Spirit of God moves over the face of the waters.” In the beginning of John’s gospel the Spirit hovers over the water of holy baptism, namely, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan (John 1:32-33) and the Holy Spirit-filled water of holy baptism that Jesus preaches to Nicodemus by which sinners are born again (John 3:3-5)!


Oh my! How times flies! I’m getting quite long winded! I need to get back to the Genesis-like first seven “in the beginning” days of John 1 and wrap up this sermon.


Remember: SEVEN days in Genesis; SEVEN days at the beginning of John’s gospel. John does this as he uses Genesis-like ways of talking with these words: “the next day.” Check it out. On the first day John the Baptist is introduced (John 1:19-28). On “the next day” (John 1:29), the second day, Jesus is baptized in the Jordan On “the next day” (John 1:35), day three, Jesus calls Simon Peter and Andrew to be disciples.  On “the next day” (John 1:43), day four, Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael to be his disciples. Now, if you and Sesame Street’s Count von Count were adding along with me, how many days do we have? FOUR! FOUR DAYS!


So far so good. Then comes today’s text. John 2:1 and the miracle, the SIGN of water changed into wedding wine at Cana in Galilee. It takes place “ON THE THIRD DAY.”


One would expect another “the next day” like John has been doing. But no! Is the sequence of “on the next day” broken? Is this a sequential “third day”? No. We’ve already had a fourth. So what’s John doing? Here’s what he’s doing. When John says that this first SIGN took place “on the third day,” he means the third day from the fourth day! I repeat: “on the third day” means the third day from the fourth day. Do the math! Third day from the fourth day and you get, what? Even Count von Count from Sesame Street can add it up. What do you get? That’s right, SEVEN!


That’s when the counting of days stops at this point in John’s gospel. First creation in Genesis: you have six days and it concludes with a seventh day of rest – Sabbath. The second story of the new creation in Jesus in John 1:1-2:1 concludes with a SEVENTH DAY – a day of marriage – the wedding feast at Cana.


John’s point with the SEVEN DAYS is that in God in the flesh Jesus who tabernacles among us brings about a new creation! Or restores the fallen creation. But there is more.


Remember that Jesus tells His mother Mary, “My hour has not yet come.” When does His hour come? I’ll give you one guess. That’s right. It’s the hour of Good Friday. On that Friday Jesus declares: “It is finished.” The hard and bitter work of salvation that He came to do FOR YOU is accomplished. All your sin answered for. Atoned for by His Good Friday suffering and death.


After He declares His very good work of achieving salvation for the world “finished,” He then takes a rest. In the tomb. Buried. Until He bursts forth on Easter morning. Risen. Reigning. The Savior of all creation and you His creatures. He did it all FOR YOU! HE has redeemed you. He has restored you. He has recreated you. You are the new people of God. Born again by faith in Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your Baptism into Christ’s death!


John says so: “But to all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God,” (John 1:12-13).


Jesus says so: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God,” (John 3:5).


St. Paul puts it this way: “God saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:5).


And one more for good measure. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ [by faith and baptism], he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come,” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Not only do you now see Jesus in a new epiphany light, now you see yourself in a new light. In Jesus, through faith in Him and by His gifting you with His death, burial and resurrection in holy baptism, you’re a new creation in Him. What joy! Happy living as His new creation: a baptized believer!


In the Name of Jesus.



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