Sermon: Epiphany 2.2012

Epiphany 2
John 2.1-11

In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In Cana of Galilee, Jesus began to manifest Himself in signs, / and His disciples began to believe in Him.

Before this incident at the wedding in Cana, Jesus' true divine identity was revealed by others. // At His birth, the angels announced to the Shepherds. / When He and Mary were presented in the Temple 40 days after His birth, it was Simeon who calls Him “Salvation,” and Anna “spoke of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” When He was only a bit older, while still in Bethlehem, the star in the east revealed Him to the Magi; and then the Magi themselves reveal Him as they brought gifts and worshiped Him. Later, when He was a young teenager, the teachers in the temple reveal Him to His parents as all were astonished of His wisdom. And on and on, throughout His childhood, probably many other instances that were not recorded in Sacred Scripture, Jesus was revealed / by others.

But here, at the wedding in Cana, Jesus starts something new: He begins to reveal Himself. And He does this, first, in signs and wonders. With the confidence that only God could possess, He orders the deacons (servants) to fill the six Jewish purification jars with water. After all, what would they need those for anymore? There is a new kind of purification that has come into this place now, and those old washing rituals will be useless. Jesus Himself will purify the Jews. It won't be long, only about 3 years later, and He will shed His blood on the cross so that Israel, both the old Israel and the new Israel, the Church, so that we may wash ourselves in His blood and be cleansed forever.

So the deacons bear the jars up to the master of ceremonies. Then that man makes a proclamation about what has happened. He took the water jars after supper and proclaimed “this IS wine”.

Here, on Sundays, we have a curiously similar thing going on, don't we? The deacons (elders) prepare the elements before the Divine Service. They put the wine in the sacred vessels and bear them up to the altar (Wouldn't it be great if they had to lug six 20 gallon jars out each Sunday; / just imagine). / Anyhow, at the proper time, then, the “master of ceremonies”, the pastor, makes a proclamation about what has happened: “In the same way also He took the cup after supper...saying 'This cup is [Christ's] Blood'”.

Children, the highest point in our worship of Jesus, / the main way He continues to manifest Himself to us, who are the new Israel, / is in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar; it is a miraculous sign and wonder of regular wine being Jesus' own blood.

But, of course, this is a bit different from the wedding at Cana. There, the miracle was water into wine, / here and now it is the miracle of wine into Jesus' Blood. And so herein lies the connection: what happened at back then in Cana / was not the Lord's Supper, / but it was necessary for the Lord's Supper. It's like this: when Jesus was manifested in His baptism at the Jordan River, He sanctified all waters to be used for holy Baptism. In the same way, when Jesus manifested Himself in this first sign at the Wedding in Cana, He sanctified all wine to be used for the holy Supper.

“But what about the bread?”, you might be ask. And I would say, “Great question, I'm glad you asked. We're going to get to that, / later / on the 4th Sunday in Lent, to be precise. The Gospel lesson for that Sunday is Jesus Feeding the 5000. So, just like here in Cana, where He miraculously creates wine, / in the same way, at the Feeding of the 5000, He will miraculously create bread. Bread and Wine, Jesus miraculously creates the elements of the Supper. Coincidence, / I think not!

And what's more, not only does He miraculously create bread and wine, but He creates too much, an abundant supply that the people back then couldn't possibly consume it all. And what was done with the left-overs? Well, if they would have followed proper Jewish procedure, the left-overs would have been given to the poor. Symbolically, the left-overs are right up there, given to the poor in spirit: us. We have the crumbs that fell from the Master's table, and it is enough for us. But, really, they are hardly crumbs, for even with the left-overs, / our cup still overflows.

After all, the river of Life is constantly flowing. When Jesus' blood flowed out of His side, when He was pierced for our iniquities on the cross, we are never told that the flow of blood ever stopped. Perhaps we assume it did, but Scripture is silent about it. Why? Because, theologically, it hasn't stopped. Jesus' Blood continues to fill chalices all over the world, for 2000 years.

So when you partake of this miraculous Sign today, you are united with all Christians everywhere, in every time, even those in heaven right now, for you are drinking from the Source, from one great common cup. And this why Satan, our common enemy, hates this. Because at the altar, we are one, holy Church. We are one Body, the Bride of Christ. The Wedding Feast / it is for us, together, and we are all here, together, and we are ready. Baptism is our invitation, / Absolution is our wedding garments. We are here to celebrate our one-Flesh union in the Flesh and Blood of our Bridegroom and Savior and Lord, Jesus. // Just look at us: we are immaculate!

So come, eat and drink and be satisfied, / for Jesus is manifesting His glory to you, today. And even though you cannot fully understand it yet, this is all the more reason to come / and be His disciple / and believe in Him.

In +Jesus' name. Amen.

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