Epiphany 2 2023 (Jn 2, 1–11, Eph 5, 22–31)

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The master of the feast tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, but the ministers who drew the water knew.

᛭ INI ᛭

(5. Oops!: Sinners fail to know and do reject the gifts of God.)

Sinners do not recognize the gifts of God. Sinfulness makes a blindness toward all things God related, and that blindness also includes His Gifts. This means there’s a failure to recognize where the gifts come from. They might talk in terms of being fortunate or lucky or blessed, but no mention of God. Even if there is a mention of God, it’s clear it’s just a throwaway statement, as their life shows no further evidence of knowing or believing in the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Those without faith in Christ fail to see the importance of the Lord’s spiritual gifts: His Word, His Sacraments. They have no use for their Bibles. Why own one? If you do, why read it? But their blindness of unbelief includes also the 1st Article Gifts, the Gifts of creation. “Food and drink, house and home, and so on.” This is why God “makes His sun shine on the evil and on the good, and sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous.”

But it’s worse than that.Sinners don’t just fail to know God and the gifts He gives. They actually reject the gifts He creates and gives. They swap them out for things of their own making. They swap the evil for the good, death for life, entitlement for living be-giftedly, receiving all things as gift.

The gift most clearly rejected, changed, and disregarded in our day is marriage. The Lord Jesus loves marriage. He shows up at Cana for a wedding party because of that! He created marriage in the beginning with His Father. Adam made for Eve, and Eve for Adam. One man, one woman joined for life, to be a picture of the union between Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Society and the world reject the gift of marriage as God ordained it in many overt and subtle ways. Divorce. Voluntary childless marriages. So-called marriages of men to men, women to women. The proliferation of pornography. Living together outside of marriage. The rejection of marriage altogether.

But this is just sinners doing what sinners always do with the gifts of God—change them, and if you can’t do that, reject them! Think about Adam and Eve in the beginning. The Tree of Knowledge was a Gift for not eating, which they, of course, ate. The Israelites were given manna to eat, which they eventually rejected. Pick a Gift of God, pick a Commandment, pick a Means of Grace, and sinners will run roughshod over it, till it’s trampled down underfoot.

(4. Ugh!: APART FROM FAITH IN CHRIST WHO GIVES THEM, WE FAIL TO KNOW THE GIFTS OF GOD.)

But we are not without excuse either! It’s not just sinners out in the world that have problems with the gifts of God. We, too, because we’re also sinners often fail to recognize God’s gifts. The problem out in the world is a lack of faith. APART FROM FAITH IN CHRIST WHO GIVES THEM, sinners FAIL TO KNOW THE GIFTS OF GOD.

But that goes for you and me, too! Because of our sinful flesh, we take them for granted, fail to see them, fail to use them, or don’t really want them either!

APART FROM FAITH IN CHRIST WHO GIVES THEM, WE FAIL TO KNOW THE GIFTS OF GOD.

A sure sign of this is when we get a gift from God, how quickly we grumble about it! The gift when desired was seen as a gift, but once God gives the gift, it’s seen as a burden. We’re no better than Adam or the Israelites. Of his wife and God, Adam said, “This woman you gave to be with me gave me of the tree and I ate.” No longer gift but problem. The Israelites were daily given the blessing of Manna. Of this many they eventually said, “We loathe this worthless food.” Gift given became gift rejected.

We do this with our kids, our spouses, our jobs, our things, our friends—pretty much everything in our life! The Gift becomes a cross, but when it does we reject it. We want to change our spouse, change our kids, change our jobs, our things, our friends. All in the pursuit of an easier existence, a better time, and more things. (We’d do the very same thing once we get the better thing.) Christ says, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Our selfish, sinful flesh doesn’t want to be put to death, and the honorable responsibilities were given to enjoy the gifts kill selfishness.

(3. Aha!: Christ comes to make the Gifts of God known.)

Now, the master of the feast was ignorant of where the wine came from. All he knows is that it’s some of the best wine he’s tasted. He fails to ask the ministers who drew the wine where they got it. Instead he opts for his own human explanation. The bridegroom gave it…

But this is exactly why Christ show up! It’s why He shows up in Cana. It’s why He comes to this world in the first place! He comes because APART FROM FAITH IN HIM WHO GIVES THEM, WE FAIL TO KNOW THE GIFTS OF GOD. So, He’s come to make God’s Gifts known. He comes to save sinners from their blindness. He comes to make cups run over, to make water into wine, to make the blind see, to forgive sin, to raise the dead and empty their graves. John puts it this way, “This, the first of the signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and He revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”

(2. Whee!: He reveals Himself as the greatest Gift.)

When Christ changes the water into wine He proves who He is. He manifests and reveals His glory. He reveals the glory of “his eternal power and divine nature, [which] have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world.” (Rom 1) These are put on display at Cana when that water reddened into wine. The One who created dry land out of water in Genesis 1, is standing there at Cana and made wine out of water.

He reveals also the glory of cross. Jesus throughout the Gospel of John uses glory language to talk about His cross. “When you exalt the Son of Man.” “When I am exalted above the earth.” Jesus also says on the night He was betrayed, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” He is glorified at His hour, that is, His cross, when He is dying for the sins of the world.

At Cana Jesus reveals Himself to be the greatest Gift. He comes receiving all things as Gift from His Father. He does shrink back or change, He doesn’t take for granted or ignore them. But “for the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising its shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God,” “with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”

He goes to Calvary and there is true bridegroom for His bride the church. As Paul says, “Giving Himself up for her.” After all, “A man shall leave His Father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church,” Paul says. Christ came down from heaven, went to the cross where He was forsaken by His Father, left Mary in the care of John, and then the blood and water from His side echo and rhyme with the wine from water at Cana. All this He does for His bride, His body, the church.

(1. Yeah!: He creates and sustains faith so that we receive Him and God’s Gifts aright.)

“And we are members of His body,” so Christ does all this for us, too. For

APART FROM FAITH IN CHRIST WHO GIVES THEM, WE FAIL TO KNOW THE GIFTS OF GOD.

He creates and sustains faith through His Word and Sacraments. His Holy Word is nothing else that putting on display His Works and His Words before our ears. His Sacraments deliver the benefits of His Works to us. The forgiveness achieved at Calvary is delivered in Supper, for example.

This is how it went down at Cana. His disciples heard what Jesus said, saw what Jesus did, and “His disciples believed in Him.” This is how it goes for us, too! We receive the forgiveness of sins. We receive Christ’s Word and works. We receive the promises of new life and eternal salvation. We receive the Christ who is “present in [His] holy Word.” There He reveals His glory to us. His changing water into wine at Cana. His death. His resurrection.

He creates and sustains faith within us. He forgives us. Then united to Christ by faith, we, too, receive all things as gift. No longer trying to change or disregard His gifts. But joyfully receiving them as He created them and gives them. When He shows up to give them, we receive them, especially His Word and His Sacraments. For we need His Bible, His Sermons, His Absolution, His Supper, more than wine or any other created gifts. For these will strengthen our faith. Faith enlivens our receiving of all God’s other gifts for

APART FROM FAITH IN CHRIST WHO GIVES THEM, WE WILL FAIL TO KNOW THE GIFTS OF GOD.

᛭ INI ᛭

Total:      1635
Outline:    76
Final:      1559

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