Second Sunday After The Epiphany January 15-16, 2022
“What Can God Change?” John 2:1-11
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
This is Stock Show time here in Denver. On Wednesday our preschool got into the western theme. Some of the kids and staff had cowboy boots and cowboy hats. At lunch they had a cowboy lunch – beans and wieners. They sat around a “camp-fire”. When I asked Kelly, our Preschool Director, how it went, she smiled and said, “It was a fabulous mess.” It didn’t go exactly as planned. Fabulous messes with little kids can just make you shake your head and smile.
John 2 is about a fabulous mess. It was a wedding – which is a big thing. Bride and groom, their families, lots to eat, lots to drink. They would carry on the celebration for a number of days. But you know the problem – they ran out of alcohol. No wine. The party would be over.
I know that we live in a society where too many lawyers advertise their services so we can have justice for every type of way that we have been wronged. But they had one requirement back in Jesus’ day that we don’t have today. If you weren’t able to complete your responsibilities as a good host for the wedding – that is, having enough to eat and drink – the bridegroom’s family could be brought to court. And even if someone didn’t do such a ridiculous thing, there was the embarrassment of facing your friends, relatives and all the guests that you weren’t prepared to properly celebrate with on the wedding day of your son and his bride.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, presents the problem to her son. “When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’” (John 2:3) She wanted him to do something. She wanted him to change the problem and the embarrassment. She didn’t want Frank Azar, the “Strong Arm”, to get a phone call.
Sometimes we get into fabulous messes and we don’t know what we can do. We didn’t study, we didn’t plan, we were just plain dumb about something, and we are in a pickle. And we ask God to change the situation. Please help, Lord. Do a miracle.
God can change anything. God can change the very situation that we find ourself in. That is what He did in Cana on that day when He went to the wedding with His family and His disciples. There were some large water jars, holding 20-30 gallons of water at that wedding venue. And this is what He told the servants at the wedding banquet to do, “Fill the jars with water.” And they did. All the way to the top. And then he told the servants to take some of that water, put it in a cup and take it to the master of the banquet. And then we read, “And the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.” (John 2:9)
What can God change? Anything, at any time. The smallest thing or the biggest thing. We pray for God to change situations every day.
But, you know, sometimes God doesn’t change situations. The miracle doesn’t happen. The problem doesn’t go away. The water just stays water and everyone leaves disappointed. When such miracles don’t happen, we must look at the greater work that God is doing. Like Pastor Mike told us last week, “God is always at work”. In II Corinthians 12 we read that St. Paul had a problem, a thorn in the flesh, and he asked God, over and over again, to take it away from him. But God didn’t do it. He didn’t change the situation. But God answered in the most marvelous way, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (12:9) He asked for God to change others, or the bad situation, but what God did was to change Paul. Paul, when he understood that God was doing to give him more grace, and more of the power of the Spirit, responded, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (Verses 9b-10)
There is something greater than God just changing a bad situation. He gets more direct. He changes people. After the whole event of changing water into wine is concluded, John offers this summary, “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (John 2:11) His disciples lives were changed. They now had a fuller faith in Jesus.
Some people say that this miracle never happened. What they say is that when the wine ran out Jesus commanded that water was to be used for the rest of the banquet. The man who was in charge of the feast gave a wink at Jesus, entered into the spirit of the whole thing, and quipped that this water was the best wine of all. Then some people, overhearing the remark, created the story and that is how the whole story of water into wine began. It is amazing to me how many steps unbelief needs to take to undo what God can easily do.
I believe in the miracle, but it was only a beginning to what Jesus was going to do. In the whole spectrum of major and minor works of God, this one is minor. In this account, before Jesus does the work, He says to Mary, “My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4) Later, in John 12, he would say quite clearly that His time had come. It was Palm Sunday, just days before His institution of His Supper, Good Friday, and then Easter. These are His words, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:23,27-28)
What can God change? God can change situations, but better than that, God can change people. We find ourselves in a fabulous mess and God, through Jesus, does something about it. The right time, the hour, had come to offer Himself for us.
This past Monday we were out at Fort Logan National Cemetery to bury Joan Fryman. And what did we talk about at a place that has thousand upon thousands of folks who are buried in a very orderly way? We spoke about how God changes everything. “Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:51-52) Or, how about this word? “The body that is sown is perishable; it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (I Corinthians 15:42-44)
What can God change? Water into wine. Dead people into living people. He changes situations that are overwhelming and impossible. He changes people who are overwhelming and impossible. I usually love it when I get feedback about what people like, or don’t like, about worship and sermons and how our church is doing. Folks sure have a variety of thoughts. This week I got this review. “Pastor, your sermons are ok. And the music is all right. But that’s not why I come. I come to receive Holy Communion. I come to hear the words that my sins are forgiven. There is something that happens in me when those two things happen.”
What can God change? He takes sinners and forgives them through the blood of Jesus. He takes souls that are burdened and frees them by His love and mercy. He promises that these bags of bones, that eventually will just waste away, will be resurrected. You know what the Bible tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (II Corinthians 15:17) He speaks a word and we are forgiven. He feeds us and we are full. He raises His hands to bless us and we are at peace.
Thank God that He can change anyone and anything. It does it for everyone and everything that is a fabulous mess. He did it then. He will do it now. Amen!!