INI + AMEN.
Faith isn’t something that you work up for yourself. Faith isn’t the important thing when things get hard. Your faith doesn’t get you through. (Though many well meaning Christians talk that way.) Faith is trust. And faith is only as good as the thing it trusts, the person it trusts.
Here’s an example of what I mean. If you fell off a boat, and you were rescued because someone through you a life preserver. You wouldn’t focus on the fact that you held on to the life preserver would you? If someone asked you, “What brought you through?” You wouldn’t respond, “My holding on to the life preserver did.” You’d be thankful rather for the life preserver itself, and really for the person who got it and threw it to you.
It’s all a matter of what faith holds on to, not the faith itself. Big faith, little faith, strong faith, weak faith doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter if a body builder holds on with both arms to the life preserver or a child does or one hand does.
When it comes to faith IN JESUS, the “Jesus” part of that statement is what’s actually important. “What got you through?” Jesus did. And when it comes to faith, whatever Jesus does and says are important. Jesus’ Word and Action are what the Gospels are all about.
Jesus saves. He doesn’t just do miracles, parlor tricks, flexing His almighty-God power. The Scriptures say that He works signs. Signs point to who He is. He is the God who saves—saves from sin, from the devil, and from death. When Jesus goes to the wedding at Cana, He does His first sign. The first of many signs along the narrow way of Salvation that direct you to Him.
From this one sign and from all His signs, we rejoice that
JESUS’ SIGNS CREATE FAITH AND REVEAL HIS GLORY.
((I.)) JESUS’ SIGNS CREATE FAITH.
But I maybe know what you’re thinking: “How do JESUS’ SIGNS CREATE FAITH? I thought that the Holy Spirit creates faith?” That’s right. The Holy Spirit does create faith. He is the one who gifts faith to you. Like I said at the start of my sermon: faith isn’t something that you work up in yourself. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. So, if you have faith, it wasn’t because of your own thinking, your own feeling, your doing. “by [your] own reason or strength, [you ] cannot believe in Jesus Christ [your] Lord or come to Him.” That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.
The question is this? How does the Holy Spirit create faith? What does the Holy Spirit use? Because He doesn’t just zap faith into you out of nowhere. As the Catechism teaches us, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me…by the Gospel.” “By the Gospel”—that gets us to Jesus’ signs.
JESUS SIGNS CREATE FAITH because the Spirit uses those signs to create faith. People saw what Jesus did, and they believed in Him. He healed the sick, fed thousands, calmed storms, and even raised the dead. Jesus also, as we have in our Gospel reading today, turned water into wine. The Apostles were eyewitnesses of what Jesus was doing. So also we heard a few weeks ago that Jesus sent John the Baptizer’s disciples back to him, telling them, “Go and tell John what you see.”
The Spirit uses what Jesus did to create faith in Jesus, and so Peter confessed that Jesus “is the Christ the Son of the living God.” To which Jesus said, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven.” The Father sent the Spirit to do it. (The Holy Spirit, ever the shy one, hardly ever mentions Himself.)
And this gets us to the other thing the Spirit uses to create faith: Jesus’ Word. “Go and tell John what you see and hear!” Everything we encounter of Jesus is in the Word—only in the Word of God. What He did, and what He said. What Jesus does and says are of utmost importance to faith. The Spirit uses Jesus’ Word and Promises to create faith, to strengthen faith, and to keep you in the faith. You don’t even keep yourself believing! That’s the Spirit’s job for you. Good Gift.
The Spirit uses Jesus’ Word in all the various ways Jesus has chosen to deliver it: in Holy Baptism, in Holy Absolution, in the Holy Bible, in the preaching of the Holy Gospel, and in the Holy Supper of Jesus’ body and blood. All these things are Holy because the Holy Spirit is at work in them to make you holy. He makes you holy. That’s why He is the Holy Spirit. He delivers Jesus’ forgiveness of sins, makes you holy, creates and strengthens your faith. The Holy Spirit does it through Jesus’ Signs and Word, and that’s how JESUS’ SIGNS CREATE FAITH.
((II. JESUS SIGNS REVEAL HIS GLORY.))
So, JESUS SIGNS CREATE FAITH, but JESUS’ SIGNS also REVEAL HIS GLORY. But that doesn’t mean showing off His almighty-God power. It’s not parlor tricks Jesus is after. It’s not doing unbelievable things to amaze us into faith. In fact, the only wedding guests who knew the miracle were Jesus’ disciples, His mother, and the servants. It wasn’t a “hey look at me” moment. In fact, Jesus doesn’t want to be known as the miracle worker, faith healer, the magician. His SIGNS aren’t trying to point in that direction. Many false prophets do that. Many false religions are full of such people.
While Jesus can do every sort of healing, feeding, and raising of the dead we can come up with, that’s not His glory. His Glory isn’t even His Transfiguration, which we’ll hear about next week. Jesus’ glory is actually a matter of faith. His glory is an object of faith. And if it has to do with faith, well, then we need to look to Jesus Signs and Word.
So, what does Jesus say at Cana? Not much. “Take this to the host.” “Fill these with water.” He asks Mary a pointed question. Her God is asking her a question. God can ask however He wants! No fitting in our boxes and categories for Jesus. Anyway, He asks, “Woman, what does this have to do with Me?” And here we get to the point of it all: “My hour has not yet come.”
Jesus’ hour is His cross, His crucifixion. That’s what He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus is the Grain of wheat, His fruit: you and me.
Jesus was crucified “at the sixth hour” to fulfill the Law, even the Law of purification that made “the six stone water jars” necessary. Calvary was His “hey look at Me” moment, “sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone-cold tomb” FOR YOU. The Glory of God, the true glory of God, is His saving. He saved you on the Cross. Isaiah saw “Yahweh high and lifted up.” Yahweh, the Great I AM—that’s Jesus who said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself; when you exalt the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM.” Thus says the LORD, “They will look on Me whom they have pierced.”
JESUS’ SIGNS REVEAL HIS GLORY. They point us to His cross. So, also water into wine. “One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” Water and wine, water and blood—they deliver His cross to you. REVEALS it right to you. You’re Baptized into His death and resurrection. As He blessed the water at Cana, so His Word blesses the bread and wine. They are what He says they are, and you’re fed with His body and blood.
JESUS’ SIGNS CREATE FAITH AND REVEAL HIS GLORY. But is this the Jesus you want? The Cana-Calvary Jesus. Or do you want a different one? Do you want One who would use His almighty-God power for your own benefit? Unbelief tries to pick a different Jesus.
There is no other Jesus than the Cana-Calvary Jesus. The Jesus who made water into wine—water and blood from His side. Through His Water and Blood He’d change even you from water into wine for others, “to gladden their hearts” with His forgiveness, His mercy.
The crucified and raised Jesus, the Gift-Giver Jesus, the Jesus who Gifts Baptism, Absolution, His Gospel, His Supper to you is the Jesus of Cana. Jesus is the true Groom, the true Husband, the true Man (true God) who saves the true Bride, true Wife, true Woman—His Church. One Man. One Woman. He the Savior. She the Saved. He her Head. She His body.
We are members of His body, the Church, because we partake of His body and blood, baptized into Him, too. Faith clings to these things, and the Jesus who gives them. There is no other Jesus than this Jesus. The Jesus who reveals His cross, the Jesus who went to His Cross, the Jesus who delivers His cross—for you, to you.
He’s the Jesus who will carry you through everything, no matter what. You’re convincing yourself won’t. Faith’s only as good as what it trusts. (It never trusts itself.) You trust Jesus just like His disciples did at Cana because JESUS’ SIGNS CREATE FAITH AND REVEAL HIS GLORY, His Cross, to you. Look no further than the Altar for that.
INI + AMEN.