An Abundance of the Best 1-17-16

In this sermon, taken from John 2:1-11, I explore the story of Jesus turning water into wine. This is the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs in John, and shows us that God desires an abundant life for us.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/an-abundance-of-the-best-1-17-16

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

Its very likely that I’ve mentioned this before, but I am a big fan of weddings. They are a lot of fun, and I have enjoyed a multitude of them. Several stick out in my memory as significant, but the first wedding that I really remember loving was my sister’s wedding, which happened the summer after I graduated high school.

Probably the reason that I enjoyed that wedding so much was the dance. It was a blast and I danced up a storm…so much so, that I was hot and sweaty pretty much the whole time…and at one point, I remember needing to take a breather, so I plopped down at a table next to one of my mom’s cousins…who shall remain nameless.

She took one look at me and asked “Having fun out there?” To which I replied “Sure am, but man am I thirsty.” And without skipping a beat, she grabbed an empty glass on the table in front of us and poured me a healthy swig of beer. “Here you go, and don’t worry, you parent’s aren’t’ looking.”

So I took that swig of beer and for the first time ever…I thought beer was delicious. It was ice cold and I was so thirsty…it really hit the spot…(pause) And now many of you are aware that I’m a fan of beer…but at that point I wasn’t…not to mention, I was underage anyway…but I’ll cop to it. That moment represented the first time that I thought beer…even cheap American Light beer…was good. (pause)
Now don’t get me wrong…I’m certainly not advocating for underage drinking here…but rather making a connection with a mighty fine tasting beverage…in the setting of a wedding. (pause) Seems fitting with today’s story right?

For in today’s story we see something…kinda similar. An amazing tasting beverage at a wedding. The obvious difference of course…the source of said beverage. (pause) The wedding at Cana…the first of Jesus’ signs here in John’s gospel…the first time he publically performs something miraculous in public causing different individuals to believe in him. Fitting that we have this story here during the season of epiphany as Jesus continues to be revealed to the world. (pause)

Now the nature of this whole story is a little odd. We’ve got Jesus and his disciples crashing a local wedding…Mary’s there…and for whatever reason…the hosts have committed the ultimate wedding faux pa, and have failed to stock enough provisions to last throughout the entirety of the celebration…7 days worth…which I can only imagine represents a pretty healthy stockpile of quality vintage.

Though that being said…the enormous quantity required for that much time would explain the common custom that the steward mentions…starting off with the good stuff and moving into the low quality swill when people got a little too tipsy to tell the difference.

But all that aside…this really was a big deal…and for the hosts to run out of wine part way through…that would have been a huge stain on their reputation…it was simply something that you did not do…if you’ve heard the old saying “its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it” Well that’s certainly in effect in this situation…and yet…as we see…that’s exactly what happens.

And when it happens…for whatever reason…the individual to step and take charge…is Mary, the mother of Jesus. We have no idea why…but she certainly seems to have a plan, even if Jesus is less than keen about.

PSST…JESUS…SON, Come here…What Mom? They’re out of wine. Yah? So? (pause) At first glance that seems to the be the end of it as Jesus rather bluntly tells Mary off…or does he? Maybe all he needs is this little push. Maybe, Mary knows exactly what she’s doing…or maybe she has a gut feeling that Jesus, this amazing Son of God that she has born and raised…could do something about it…and so she steps aside to the servants with the bold statement “If he tells you to do something…do it.”

And of course…as we know…whether Jesus really wanted to or not…whether it was the proper hour or not…Jesus…for the first time here in John’s gospel…Jesus…takes divine action.

You see those jars…those big ones over there…Fill ‘em up…Fill them with what Jesus? We’re out of wine. Yah, I know…fill them with water. So they do….Now what Jesus? Draw some back out…and take it to the steward…Let him taste it.

And low and behold…somehow…someway that water has turned into wine…and not just any wine…but the best wine…and the steward, as we hear…is amazed. At this point in the celebration, he’s expecting…Arbor Mist…but he gets Crystal…he’s expecting a Natty Light…and gets the most pristine Craft Beer available…And he is amazed…and so he runs of the groom to congratulate him on this amazing development…and I can only imagine the groom to be utterly clueless to just what the steward is talking about. (pause)

Funny…how many different individuals there are that are involved in this whole situation…different individuals, who show a wide variety of understanding about just what is really happening.

We’ve got Jesus…and of course he’s aware…We’ve got Mary, who may or may not know the result. We’ve got the steward who completely misunderstands the situation and misses the miracle itself and the groom…and who knows what he’s thinking. In fact…other than Jesus himself…the only ones who really witness the sign from start to finish are the servants.

But regardless of everyone’s level of understanding…everyone benefits don’t they? The guests can continue the celebration…the servants can keep doing their work…Mary’s request if fulfilled…and the host saves face…even if they don’t fully grasp what’s going on.

Because isn’t that often the case when Jesus does something miraculous…when he performs some amazing sign? There are many of them in scripture…and 7 here in John’s gospel…this is only the first…and one of them…the feeding of the 5000 bears a lot of similarity…when Jesus takes almost nothing…and through his divine power…he is able to provide for everyone…and not just enough…but in abundance.

And we see the same sort of thing here…especially when we begin to consider just how much water was in those big jars in the first place. 6 jars, each one holding 20-30 gallons…and with a little bit of math, we see that Jesus has created anywhere from 600-1000 bottles of wine…WAY more than the party would ever require….and as we heard it was the BEST wine.

Because when God does something…when God choses to provide something…God doesn’t go half way…God does just allow things to squeak by…no, we have a God who provides an abundance…and not only that…but an abundance of that which is best for us.

I’ve often heard this passage explained as something called grace upon grace…and it speaks to this very train of thought…that God gives far over and beyond what is necessary…and often times in ways that we fail to grasp or understand…God’s glory is shown through his grace for us…and not only that God forgives our sins…but that God desires an abundant life for us, both in the eternity of the resurrection, but also in the here and now.

Jesus provided the wine to allow that simply celebration to continue…so that those present could continue to experience the joy of the day…the joy of the celebration…and the joy of community with one another…and likewise God desires that we experience the same…both in our day to day lives as well as our eternal relationship with him, made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That’s what the signs of Christ point towards…a life of abundance…and that’s what Christ’s entire existence was geared towards…even if he seemed a little hesitant to show it that day…Admittedly I’ve always found Jesus’ response to Mary a little odd…why should I care…my hour has not yet come.

Well Jesus…when will your hour come? Because we hear this statement from him countless times throughout the gospel…but, we also get an answer to that question…For when Jesus finally reveals that his hour has come…its at the last supper…just before he is betrayed…and tortured…and killed. And that, THAT, is where God’s glory and God’s intention for us is truly revealed…when God shows us that there is no length he will not go to in order for us to have life and to have it abundantly…God is willing to die for it…and talk about something that makes no sense…something that we fail to grasp. God dies? (pause) You bet he does…and he does it for each and every one of you, regardless of if you think you’re worthy or not…because that’s grace…that’s a free gift…one that’s given beyond our ability to understand or comprehend. (pause)
And so now I ask, what will you do with this gift? With this abundant life that God has given you? (pause) I cannot answer that question for you, because the gifts of God given to us through the Holy Spirit are individual gifts, but together when we start using those gifts, then the body of Christ is strengthened…and when we take those gifts outside these walls into the world out there…that’s when the world will experience the abundance that God continues to grant us…all made possible simply because Jesus, God in human form chose to give us and abundance of that which is best. Amen.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Teresa on January 17, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    And he has given me much in abundance. For all of this I’m very thankful.

    Reply

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