Sermon – September 30, 2018

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John 2:1-11 – The First Sign (mp3)

John’s Gospel is meant to assure us that Jesus is the Messiah, so that we might believe in his name. Today, we have the first of seven signs recorded for us so that John’s purpose might be achieved. But what an odd, and if we can be honest, such a meager miracle to start with! Turning water into wine is certainly miraculous, but its purpose seems small compared to healing limbs, giving sight, and raising the dead. Yet, the miracle itself has more meaning that just extending a party. It tells us, if we have eyes to see, that the promised Kingdom is at hand. This miracle shows us:

1. Jesus’ glory is expressed
This particular passage provides us with much fodder for modern discussion over the usefulness and wisdom of drinking alcohol. The Bible has much to say about the topic, both positive and negative. While such questions are good, as they attempt to lead us toward godly living in the present age, we should not consider this passage as only speaking about alcohol. Doing such confuses the sign for the signified. What we need to ask of the passage is not about the alcohol itself, but rather what does this particular miracle signify about Jesus? As John says, it manifested Jesus’ glory. But how?

2. Jesus’ graciousness is excessive
Everything about the passage, ever action Jesus takes, is a demonstration of his sheer graciousness. Jesus is clear that the lack of wine, which would have caused great dishonor for the groom, was not his responsibility. Yet he miraculously produces wine. Jesus makes it clear that his hour had not yet come; the time to manifest his full glory was not now. Yet, for the good of the disciples, Jesus quietly demonstrates his power. The celebration was at an end, when much wine wasn’t needed. Yet Jesus provides an overflowing amount of wine. The wine didn’t need to be good, just good-enough. Yet Jesus makes the best of wines. Even the nature of the miracle shouts Jesus’ graciousness. Moses, symbolized by the stone jars, also performed his first miracle on water. But Jesus doesn’t change the water into blood, with its death, destruction, and judgment, but into wine. In Jesus, the graciousness of God is expressed, and is overly excessive in all its ways. Friends, Jesus doesn’t measure out his graciousness to you in moderation, but in excess; not in teaspoons, but by the gallon.

3. Jesus’ kingdom is exhibited
We are likely to understand all of the miracles of Jesus presented in John’s gospels as allegories for our own lives: we are the lame man who cannot get to the healing pool; we are the blind man who cannot be helped; we are the dead man who cannot live again. Here, we are the groom; our failure in our responsibility will bring our own well deserved shame down on our heads. But, just as the flowing of wine is foretold to be a picture of the coming kingdom in the prophets, so Jesus here makes the wine flow. His kingdom is one of grace, and the nature of his rule is to overcome the failures of his people, providing them with what they lacked. His kingdom brings health, happiness, and life in a world defined by disease, sorrow, and death. This is the nature of Jesus’ kingdom, because it is his nature. Our God and Savior is good indeed!