Second Sunday after the Epiphany – January 20, 2019 – John 2:1-11 – Trinity, Winchester
Have you ever been to a wedding? This is one of the very few times in my career that I expect to incorporate audience participation into a sermon. Really, feel free to answer. Have you ever been to a wedding?
I thought so. (That concludes the audience participation portion of the sermon. The following questions are rhetorical.)
At that wedding did the host run out of something crucial? Did the buffet or bar run low? Can you imagine the embarrassment?
At my sister Erika’s wedding the prime rib (or whatever it was we had) ran out. Instead of replacing it with what she had ordered, the reception hall manager replaced it with beef and broccoli. My mother, keeping track of all such things, was not happy.
She felt embarrassed. Were people eating more than we expected? Did the venue not prepare enough food? Or was it simply a case of miscommunication? Regardless of the reason, it was frustrating. It’s not that any of our guests were pretentious enough to care. It’s just not the way that my mom—not to mention my sister—had envisioned the evening going. It’s not what they had planned.
Today, we hear that Jesus is with his mother at a wedding in Cana. Keeping track of such things, as mothers do, Mary says to Jesus, “They’ve run out of wine.”
I imagine Jesus’ good mother brought this up because she knew the implications. This could potentially be embarrassing. Someone would need to intervene to help the hosts avoid humiliation.
“What business is it of mine, woman?” replies Jesus. This response seems a bit harsh. Some translations render it, “Woman, what have you to do with me?” or “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?” I wouldn’t want to be caught talking to my mother that way. I wonder if I could even get away with it. Then again, I’m not the Son of God.
“Oh woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Jesus’ response to his mother indicates that he doesn’t think he’s ready for public ministry, but Mary is about to push him into it anyway.
God has plans for Jesus that few can fathom, but I think Mary must have an idea. Call it women’s intuition. I’ve heard it said, especially when it comes to the secrets of a son, “A mother knows.”
Mary knows something about her son, his purpose for the world, and his power. She’s asking him to do something about the lack of wine because she knows and trusts that he can.
“Not yet,” says Jesus. “My hour has not yet come.” But Mary doesn’t give into that. She shows us that she believes in her son from the very beginning.
The servants follow her example. They do what he tells them to. “Standing there were six stone water jars…each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’” They filled them up to the brim, and again at Jesus’ command they drew some out and took it to the chief steward who tasted that it was wine.
This miracle story at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry is an Epiphany story. It is a story of God made manifest by the working of a miracle in Galilee. This miracle revealed God’s glory in Jesus Christ. The text tells us that, because of this sign, Jesus’ disciples believed in him.
But the disciples weren’t the first ones to believe him. For his disciples it may have taken the impossible act of turning water into wine to spark their belief, but Jesus’ mother trusted in her son even before the miracle occurred. Even before she saw the sign, she trusted that Jesus’ path was a greater path, and in turn she instructed the servants to obey him as well.
Mary knows a little something about the life-giving power of Jesus, so she urges him to go public with it. Mary has been with him from the very beginning of his earthly life, and I’ll bet she’d seen signs of it before. Her unconditional faith in her son initiated a series of events that led many others to witness the revelation of the glory of God.
Just as the glory of God was present at the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God’s glory is present in this story. Today in its hearing, you and I are able to catch a glimpse of all that is possible with Jesus, the incarnate God.
Just like Mary, we know the life-giving power of Jesus. And just like her, it is our job to spread it around by pointing to Jesus and trusting that he can handle the rest.
Catching a glimpse of a miracle may provide the proof necessary to believe in Jesus, but I wonder if we, like Jesus’ dear mother, are willing to believe even when we haven’t seen it yet, even when it seems impossible.