Saturday, January 19, 2019

Epiphany 2

Series C
20 January 2019
Jesus makes radical change
John 2:1–11 

The Divine Glory Is Manifested in the Signs of Christ

Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

The word “Epiphany” means ‘manifestation.’ This implies that the Epiphany season manifests or marks the power of Jesus Christ for the good of all sorts of people. These signs contained in the Scriptures continue to be for us a signal of Jesus’ power – just as they were for Christ’s disciples and the 1st Century believers. “They beheld His glory and His disciples put their faith in Him.” (v.11)

Why demonstrate such power? Jesus does not turn water into wine simply to show off. Rather He will demonstrate what His power accomplishes for people whom He loves. Certainly one huge lesson in Jesus’ first miraculous sign, the turning of water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, is that He brings about remarkable changes in the lives of people. This is something urgent for us to know about Jesus. Jesus alone makes radical changes in the lives of the people for whom He loves. 

1. Jesus made a radical change at Cana in Galilee. 
2. Jesus’ most radical change was His change from death to life. 
3. Jesus makes radical changes in our lives. 

Every act that Jesus will take is directed toward “that hour.” When He was lifted up on the cross. When He was suspended between earth and heaven for you. For the forgiveness of sins and the life of the world. The Son of Man will find His throne upon a cross. 

1. Jesus made a radical change at Cana in Galilee.

A. There was a real need at Cana. During the wedding feast, the wine ran out. That was upsetting for the couple celebrating their marriage. Wine was so important for such a celebration. The lack of it meant that the party was over before it was scheduled to end. (Vv.1-2) Jesus turned six stone jars of water into 180 gallons of wine. 604 bottles – Not just ordinary wine. But wine so good that the wedding planner called it “the best!” (Vv. 6-10) Jesus made a radical change in water.

B. This action of Jesus had a powerful influence on the disciples. John comments that it was the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs and that it revealed His glory. So powerful that, “his disciples put their faith in Him.” If they hadn’t believed in Him as Messiah before, they did so now. If they hadn’t believed firmly before, they did so now (v.11). Jesus made a radical change in the lives of His disciples. He brought them from unbelief to faith.

2. Jesus’ most radical change was His change from death to life. The miracle at Cana in Galilee was a sign of Jesus’ power to make radical changes.

A. As a sign of His power to make changes, the miracle certainly points to His most miraculous change – that most radical of all radical changes – His coming to life after His death on the cross and all that it means in terms of victory over sin, death, and every evil. 

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-25).

B. Because of His radical change from death to life, He can make radical changes in our world and in our lives. Some are obsessed with gaining approval or recognition. Others are obsessed with experiencing comfort or pleasure or happiness. Some are obsessed with gaining control or power or possessions, or with building a reputation or gaining success. 

The apostle Paul was also obsessed. But his obsession was with Christ and the cross. In his obsession with the cross, Paul experienced the transforming power of the gospel to crucify the dominating power of his sinful nature and the lure and lust of the world. Thus, He could say, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Love does strange things to people. You can’t control if or how it affects those who hate you. But you can make the choice. And it will change you. Praying for them? Definitely. The two go together, like hamburgers in a bun. Jesus said, “But I say, love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45). 

And above all forgive one another, as you have been forgiven. Too hard? For sure! Holding grudges– and keeping score can destroy you. Others may not accept it. But releasing anger, hurt, and bitterness will not only change you. It will set you free. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)

3. Jesus makes radical changes in our lives.

A. The first radical change that He makes is to bring us, as He did the disciples, from unbelief to faith in Him. He is the One sent by God to save us from sin and every evil. He does this through His Word as He manifests to us His death and resurrection for our salvation. 

B. Through His gift of faith, He restores us to God as His own forever through the forgiveness of sins. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14).

C. Jesus does not stop making radical changes in our lives. Because we are His, He is continually turning the water of our lives into excellent wine. He stays close to us in Word and Sacrament so that we move continually from unbelief to faith, from selfishness to love, from despair to hope. He enables us to learn from our sins and mistakes. He works in the evil that touches our lives to produce good. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-39)

D. Jesus also changes the ordinary circumstances of our lives as we turn to Him for guidance from day to day. He may order and radically alter our affairs and the affairs of people around us for our benefit. He bids us to look to Him for His intervention in every time of need. Jesus has promised, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10).

E. Happily for us, the most radical change that Jesus will make for us is at the time of our death. He will transform us through death from this life into the larger life of heaven, and at the last day, He will raise up our bodies and change them to be like His glorious body. 

He truly saves the best wine until last. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

Today we rejoice with a bride and groom of long ago that Jesus turned water into wine. It reminds us that He has made and does make radical changes that affect our lives. This is a time not only to recognize what He has done and to thank Him but also to look to Him today and every day for the radical changes that we so desperately need, especially for His gifts of faith, hope and love. We are bold to do this not simply because He turned water into wine but because “he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who dies for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Yes! We have beheld His glory, and we have put our faith in Him.

Passive Sentences-5%
Reading Level-6.3

Collect for Epiphany 2 Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for congregational and personal use.

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