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If only we can hold out until his hour comes.

January 16, 2022 Speaker: Guest Preacher Series: Lectionary

St. John’s Lutheran Church

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Rev. Dr. Mark Steiner 

Isaiah 62:1-5

Psalm 128

1 Cor. 12:1-11

John 2:1-11

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.  [2 Corinthians 13:14]. Greetings, Defenders of the faith in Northern Virginia.

This is the Second Sunday after the Epiphany.  The color green, signifying growth in our baptismal faith, adorns the chancel.  Referencing Dr. Martin Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed in which describes the work of the Holy Spirit in calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying us through the Gospel, how will the Holy Spirit call, gather, enlighten and sanctify you through the Gospel today?

I was well into the preparation for this sermon when I discovered Dr. Martin Luther preached on the wedding at Cana in about 1525.  Discovering this sermon compelled me to completely alter the theme and outline of this sermon.  In the middle of his sermon, Dr. Luther employed the phrase: “if only we can hold out until his hour comes.”  Consequently, as we reflect on the wedding at Cana, I selected Dr. Luther’s phrase for our theme today: if only we can hold out until his hour comes.

The evangelist John commenced the narrative with on the third day.  This appears to mean the third day after Jesus arrived in Galilee.  John clearly indicated that Jesus was also invited to the wedding.  He was not how people nowadays define the plus-one.  The dictionary defines plus-one as a person who accompanies an invited guest to an event or gathering at which guests are allowed to bring a companion or partner.   This plus-one phenomenon is common at weddings and other types of mandatory fun events.

John did not say anything regarding the expected squabbles between bride and groom regarding the invitation list.  We do not know if both bride and groom wanted to invite Jesus.  We do not know if they invited Jesus because of Mary.  We do not know if the respective in-laws made certain Jesus was invited.  We simply do not know if the bride and groom were eager to invite Jesus, but they did.

It does however raise a question about us.  Have we invited Christ into our marriages, families, and lives?  Or is Christ a plus-one in our marriages, families, and lives?  But I digress.

John the Evangelist continued the account not by describing the bride’s attire, the entertainment, the menu, or the lively conversation.  This is not a destination wedding.  He continued by describing how the wine ran out.  Then, John the Evangelist describes how Mary steps in.  Dr. Luther suggested in his sermon that the wedded couple were probably poor relatives of Mary, and that Mary was compelled to act as the bride’s mother.  Clearly, there was no wedding coordinator or wedding planner.

Was Mary’s intention to protect the respective families from embarrassment?  Why did she bring this to the attention of Jesus?  Did she intend for him to discreetly go fetch some wine or was she aware of His divinity and His power to alter the course of events with a word?  How do you view Jesus in your life?  How would you describe your relationship with Jesus?

This account illustrates the importance of our Lutheran understanding of Scripture interprets Scripture.  The principle of Scripture interprets Scripture means that we do not engage in hog-wild, hallucinogenic, hyperactive interpretations of Scripture.  When we have difficulty understanding a verse of Scripture, we turn to other portions of Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to provide the interpretation.

In this case, recall Luke chapter 1 where the angel Gabriel informed Mary that her womb was selected to be the throne of the Christ child.  Then, recall how the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped upon greeting Mary who was pregnant with the Christ child.  Then, recall how Mary sang a song of praise now known as the Magnificat, included in every Lutheran hymnal, and used in the Service of Vespers.  Recall the birth of the Christ child in Luke chapter 2. Recall how the angels announced the birth of the Christ child to the shepherds and how that angelic song of glory and praise is used in every Lutheran hymnal toward the beginning of Divine Worship.

Also, in Luke chapter 2, when the Christ child was presented at the temple, Simeon sang what is known as the Nunc Dimittis, which is included in every Lutheran hymnal and one of the canticles sung after we partake of the Lord’s Supper.  Also at the temple was prophetess Anna who began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke closed out the chapter with the account of Jesus in the temple at the age of twelve.  We recall how when Joseph and Mary were at a fever pitch level of anxiety because they did not know where Jesus was, they found him after three days in the temple studying the Word of God.  Please observe how it was Mary who said, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.  This raises a question for us, do we treasure all of the things regarding our salvation in our hearts?

Now we return to meditate on the appointed Gospel reading for today.  When Mary informed Jesus that the wine had run out, Jesus responded by saying, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”  Do you see a similarity between what Jesus said here and what he said in the temple at the age of twelve?

Please do not gloss over Mary’s response.  Recall how Mary treasured up all the things concerning the birth and upbringing of Jesus in her heart.  Mary does not go off in a huff as if she had just endured a micro-aggression or insult.  She does not break down in tears, throwing herself on the floor and engage in a speech of, “How dare you talk to me that way after all I have done for you!”  John the Evangelist simply describes how Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  How do we reconcile what Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come” with what happens next?  We do not reconcile it.  Again, Scripture interprets Scripture.  The Holy Spirit provides the interpretation for us.

Dr. Luther stated the following in his wedding at Cana sermon: “Christ waits to the very last moment when the want is felt by all present, and there is no counsel or help left.  This shows the way of divine grace; it is not imparted to one who still has enough and has not felt his need.  For grace does not feed the full and satiated, but the hungry, as we have often said.  Whoever still deems himself wise, strong, and pious, finds something good in himself, and is not yet a poor, miserable, sick sinner and fool, the same cannot come to Christ the Lord, nor can receive his grace.”

Dr. Luther continued by saying: “But whenever the need is felt, he does not at once hasten and bestow what is needed and desired, but delays and tests our faith and trust, even as he does here; yea, what is still more severe, he acts as though he would not help at all but speaks with harshness and austerity.  This you observe in the case of his mother.  She feels the need and tells him of it, desiring his help and counsel in a humble and polite request.  For she does not say: My dear son, furnish us wine; but: They have no wine.  Thus, she merely touches his kindness, of which she is fully assured.  As though she would say: He is so good and gracious, there is no need of my asking, I will only tell him what is lacking, and he will of his own accord do more than one could ask.  This is the way of faith, it pictures God’s goodness to itself in this manner, never doubting but that it is really so; therefore, it makes bold to bring its petition and to present its need.”  Dr. Luther asserted this is where faith stands in the heat of battle.

That reinforces the theme of: If only we can hold out until his hour comes.  Beloved in the Lord, have you run out of wine in your life only to find six stone jars filled with water you are not allowed to drink?  Beloved in the Lord, have you stumbled over the six stone jars of the Law and made a royal mess of your lives?  Have you prayed earnestly in a time of trouble only to feel as if you are not heard—as if your Heavenly Father is far, far away?  Are you on the verge of throwing your hands up in despair, throwing yourself down on the ground or simply throwing up?

What is it that you need?  What is bothering you?  What is wrong?  Are you lonely, afraid, depressed, sad, disillusioned, angry, frustrated, agitated, irritated?  Are you feeling rejected, betrayed, slighted, overlooked, overwhelmed?  Are you ill, injured, grieving, disappointed, suffering loss?

The evangelist John does not tell us how this miracle effected the bride and groom over the years of their marriage.  The evangelist John does not tell us how the bride and groom felt when Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead.  What the evangelist John does tell us is: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”

Do you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior from sin?  The changing of the water into wine was only the first of his signs.  This Jesus, who was crucified for you and raised for you wants to be in your life, in your family, in your marriage.  It is in the heat of battle when he will test your faith.

Jesus wants to be in your life.  He went the way of the cross-defeating death and the grave for you.  If Christ wants to be in your life, He will do much more than turn water into wine.  As the prophet Isaiah said in chapter 53 when he foretold how our Messiah would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  He knows your need, He knows your pain, He knows you like no other.  If only you can hold out until His hour comes.

Your need, whatever it is, represents a splendid moment in your baptismal faith to pose the question: “What might the Lord be teaching me through this experience?  What verse from Scripture will guide me through this test of faith?  Will it be Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, stronghold in the day of trouble and He knows those who take refuge in Him.  Will it be Romans 5:3-5 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Will it be: Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

The changing of the water into wine was only the first of the signs.  Christ wants to do much, much more in your life. Beloved in the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the precious Word of the Gospel, you will hold out until His hour comes.  You will hold out because you hold onto Him. Amen.

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