Summary: A sermon for the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Series C.
2nd Sunday after Epiphany, January 14, 2007 “Series C”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, during this season of Epiphany, as we focus on the various ways in which your word and grace was manifest in the life of Jesus, help us to come to a deeper faith that he is your beloved Son, whom you sent for our redemption. Enable us to embrace Jesus as the Christ, and to transform our Lives by what he reveals to us of your loving purpose. We ask this in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
I wish to acknowledge that the following sermon was inspired by my professor of New Testament at Waterloo Lutheran Semniary, Dr. David Granskou, and also by a sermon written by Richard F. Bansemer, published in his book, In Plain Sight, C.S.S. Publishing, 1982.
When I was in seminary, I took a yearlong course on the Gospel of John, in which my professor often point out that the book was filled with humor. And so, it is with a sense of humor that I explore our Gospel text for this morning. For I have learned that humor can often reveal the truth about ourselves, as well as the grace of God.
According to John, when Jesus made his trip to Cana, five men had decided to follow him, to become his disciples. Most Biblical scholars believe that all five of these persons were, in one way or another, connected to John the Baptist. The first two disciples of Jesus were first disciples of the Baptist, and the other three were their friends and relatives.
As you know, John the Baptist led an austere life, going about the countryside preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sin. One could certainly not classify the life that John lived as being gay and frivolous. Rather, I would say that it was rather serious and somber. He lived by eating locusts and wild honey, and we can assume that his followers did the same.
So imagine what these men must have thought when they discovered the reason for this journey to Cana. “We came all this way to go to a party? This isn’t the kind of thing John would have us doing.” And I can picture two reactions these former disciples of the Baptist might have expressed. A couple of them may have thought to themselves, “Heaven forbid! Jesus is taking us to a party when there is a lot of better things we could be doing with our time. The Baptist must have been suffering a sunstroke to think that this Jesus was greater than him.
I can also picture the others thinking to themselves, “Now this is my kind of teacher. Look at all that food! This is going to be a blast. We’ve paid our dues with John, now its time to celebrate!”
There is also a hunch lurking in the back of my mind that suggests that those disciples who may have frowned upon this venture, sat erect in their seats, carefully watching Jesus to size him up, to see if his actions would meet their approval. They may also have occasionally issued dagger-like stares at the other disciples, to let them know that they shouldn’t enjoy themselves so much.
On the other hand, I can picture the disciples who were enjoying the party also watching Jesus, looking for hints of approval, testing the limits of acceptability. They may have even cast an occasional smirk across their faces in response to the glares of their friends who were disturbed by their enjoyment of the festivities.
What a tense situation this must have been for Jesus and his fledgling disciples. And when Jesus stood and walked into the kitchen, where the jars of purification would have been kept, his disciples watched intently. Perhaps a sense of hope welled up within those who sat erect in their chairs, that Jesus was going to suggest serving a little less food, so that some could be given to the poor. The other disciples may have held their breath, hoping that Jesus wouldn’t do something stupid, like volunteering them to do the dishes, since they enjoyed themselves so much.
The disciples didn’t have to wait long to discover the purpose of Jesus’ trip to the kitchen. The servants soon emerged with flagons of wine, which, when tasted by the steward of the feast, was proclaimed to be of excellent quality.
And when the disciples realized that Jesus had miraculously turned water into wine, that the feast might continue without embarrassment to the host, we might have expected them to react according to form. Those who viewed the party as a frivolous act may have shrieked, “Egad! Jesus turned water into wine. He should have turned the wine into water and drank punch.” Those who enjoyed the celebration may have exclaimed, after breathing a sigh of relief that they didn’t have to do the dishes, “All right! 600 quarts of wine. Let’s get back to the celebration!”