Summary: Year C Second Sunday After the Epiphany January 14, 2001

Year C Second Sunday After the Epiphany

Lord of the Lake Lutheran Church

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By The Rev. Jerry Morrissey, Esq., Pastor


Text: John 2:1-11

Thank you Heavenly Father for faith in Christ; which takes your “no” and presses on as though it were a “yes,” because in Jesus everything comes up yes in the end. Amen.

Title: “Jesus and Water”

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

At a wedding feast in Cana Jesus changes water to wine. The disciples see his glory and believe in him.

January 6 was the pagan feast of Dionysus, the god of wine. During that feast the fountains of the pagan temples on Andros spouted wine instead of water. One of the tactics of the early Church was to “christianize” pagan cults to show how Christ fulfills their hopes in a real way. So, this story, read on the feast, is adapted by John to be an “Epiphany” story, telling of Jesus’ “coming out” as divine savior. All four gospels have their “Epiphany” story: Mark, the Baptism of Jesus; Matthew, the Magi’s Visit; Luke the Shepherd’s Visit; and John, the Cana Miracle.

A wedding feast was a standard symbol for the Messianic banquet at the end of time when God’s enemies will be destroyed. Wine, too, was a symbol of rejoicing and fulfillment. It is a most appropriate setting to tell the story that, although God was always active in creation, something new, good, and superior has arrived in Jesus, a new creation. According to John, it is first revealed to his disciples here at Cana.

In verse one, on the third day: John writes on two levels simultaneously. The first level is the physical, earthly, visible-to-flesh; the second level is the Spiritual, eternal, visible-to-faith dimension. Here “on the third day” has metaphorical meaning beyond its calendar import. The Resurrection, third day, will be the final revelation of Jesus’ glory, as this sign is the first. Reckoning from 1:19, the questioning of the Baptist, this is also the eighth day, the first day of the “new” creation, having treated of the first creation, which took seven “days,” in the prologue. This miracle is the sign of the beginning of a new era, a new creation. In verse three, the wine ran short: On the physical, natural level this would occur if guests failed to bring wine as part of their wedding gift, a custom. Being poor, running short of wine would not be so uncommon, though still embarrassing. On the symbolic and more important level, it represents the failure of the Jewish Law, practices and cult, which, in turn, stands for the inadequacy of all other religions before Christ.

In verse four, “woman,” This was Jesus’ normal way of addressing women as in Matthew12:28; Luke 13:12; John 4:21; 8:10 and 20:13. “Lady” is a good rendering, but it has negative connotations in our language that are not present in Hebrew. “Ma’am” captures the meaning, since it is devoid of rebuke, lack of respect and or affection, or rudeness.

How does your concern affect me?: The phrase is Semitic and has two shades of meaning. One is a hostile question implying annoyance. The other is when someone is asked to get involved in a matter none of his or her business. The latter is the meaning here.

My hour: Jesus’ “hour” refers to his glorification, God’s hidden presence becomes quite evident, at the crucifixion, and the “Sign” par excellence. The time for that “sign” is not yet here. However, from this point on Jesus will begin to show “signs” of it. Unlike the Synoptics who tell of many miracles, John would call them “signs,” John picks only seven to make his point. The miracle at Cana is the first one. Though similar in some ways to the Multiplication of the Loaves, it is really unique among the miracles of Jesus. The other six are similar to those recorded in the Synoptics; three of which refer to the same Synoptic story.

In verse five, “Do whatever he tells you.”: Despite Jesus making clear that he will do things his way and within his time frame, Mary has no doubt that Jesus will do something. She knows not what or how. She models Christian teaching on prayer here. She is persistent without being insistent, confident but not controlling.

In verse six, six stone water jars: On the physical level these were present to perform the required cleansing rituals of the Law. Symbolically, they represent the inadequacy of the old Law and religion to get the job done. Stone jars or bowls were used for cleansing vessels and hands because stone did not, according to the Law, contract uncleanness. Pottery could and so it had to be smashed when it became unclean.

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