Wine of Gladness

Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany based on John 2:1-11

Dear invited guests of the great wedding feast: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Water is good. Wine is better. God loves to give the best gifts to His children, so Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana to provide for the on-going festivities.

The reality is that God turns water into wine all the time. He causes rain to fall so that vines will grow and grapes will ripen. He’s been doing it for thousands of years and He’s still doing it today.

What stands out in His turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana is how quickly He did it and that it was different from His usual method. He turned the water into wine without soil, without vines, without sunshine, and He did it instantly, without it needing to age in oak barrels, and it still tasting really good. It was a miracle. The first of Jesus’ signs that manifested His glory.

The first sign of Jesus’ glory is related to the last sign of His glory – the glory in which we will spend eternity. With Jesus’ miracle at the wedding in Cana, the wine did not run out, and you can rest assured that the wine will not run out at the great wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.

There are those who say that it is doubtful that Jesus actually performed this miracle. They say it is a miracle of luxury and indulgence. Why would Jesus provide wine for a feast where the guests had already drunk freely? They find it improbable that Jesus would even show up at such an event.

Others want to obsess over some symbolism in the turning of water into wine. The six water jugs symbolize the Law of Moses that cannot take away sin, while the wine symbolizes Jesus’ blood which does take away sin. Water symbolizes Baptism, the wine symbolizes the Lord’s Supper, and that it all took place on the third day symbolizes Jesus’ resurrection. Okay, maybe there is something to these things, and that’s all well and good.

What is front and centre, however, is that Jesus honoured marriage my attending the wedding in Cana and gracing it with the beautiful miracle of turning water into wine, manifesting His glory. Of course Jesus is going to honour marriage since He is the one who came up with marriage and instituted it for man and woman.

In the beginning, in Paradise, God created them male and female and blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:27-28) Even after the fall into sin, God blesses marriage. He says that it is He who joins husband and wife together with a portion of His Spirit and that He seeks godly offspring (Mal. 2:15). What better place for Jesus to reveal Himself as God, than where His great gift and institution of marriage is taking place? What better way to do it than provide wine for the celebration?

After all the planning and work of preparing for the wedding celebrations, what an embarrassment to run out of wine. It would have been unthinkable for a Jewish wedding to be celebrated without wine. Despite the important part of the wedding already having taken place and husband and wife already being one flesh, the only thing that everyone would remember about the wedding for years to come is that they ran out of wine.

To avert the disaster, Jesus had the servants fill six stone jars with water, together holding 120 or 180 gallons of water. That’s a lot of water. The servants then witnessed the miracle, as the water was now wine. That’s a lot of wine. Not just any wine, but wine so good that it made the master of the feast take notice and speak to the bridegroom about it. It was excellent wine, the very best.

The Psalmist writes that God gives wine to gladden the heart of man (Ps. 104:15). Indeed, as for the couple in Cana, He turns the water of sadness into wine of gladness.

We also have many warnings, however, about drunkenness. Ephesians 5 tells us, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery.” (5:18) Drunkenness is sin and excessive consumption weakens the will to oppose other sin. Proverbs 21 says, “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich” (v. 17) Those who live for the pursuit of luxury and pleasure are reckless in their spending and many ruin themselves.

Wine was given to gladden us, not for intoxication (Chrysostom). Ecclesiastes 2 says, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.” (v. 24) This is not suggesting hedonism, but that you labour and work and then enjoy the benefits of that work which come from the hand of God.

There is also wine in which you enjoy the benefits of the work that Jesus has done. This is of course the wine in the Lord’s Supper. Another week has gone by, more sins have been committed. Marriages have been under strain as husbands have been selfish and looked after themselves, neglecting their wives, taking instead of giving, disrespecting instead of honouring. Marriages have been under strain as wives have not submitted to their husbands, but instead criticized them, bossed them, and nagged them.

It is a great and necessary thing to apologize to your spouse and be reconciled and then even to share some wine. It is an even greater and more necessary thing to be reconciled and receive the blood of Christ with the wine in the Sacrament of the Altar – two sinners, together receiving the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of all your sins.

If God has taken your spouse to Paradise already, you are not left out in this regard. In the Divine Service we are assembled before God in heaven, and we sing with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven as we sing “Glory to God in the highest” and “Holy, holy, holy,” two songs of the angels (cf. Heb. 12:22-24; Lk. 2:14; Is. 6:3). As you eat the body and drink the blood of Christ, you are in communion with Christ and with all the saints who are in communion with Him, whether here on earth or in heaven with Him.

Because Jesus lived and died for you, He prepares a place in His eternal wedding banquet also for you. Because you are baptized and are thus covered in the robe of Christ’s righteousness, you are dressed in the necessary wedding garment to enter the feast. There you will drink wine better than anything you can imagine. It will not run out and you will enjoy eternity in the glory of God. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

The Epiphany

Sermon for the Epiphany of Our Lord based on Matthew 2:1-12

Dear people to whom the Saviour’s birth has been revealed: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

That God became man was first revealed to shepherds in Israel and magi in the East. In other words, the Saviour’s birth was announced first to the lowly rejects of Jewish society and to heathen astrologers. Shepherds were outcasts and looked down upon. The magi were pagans who practiced divination, fortune telling, interpreting omens, studying dreams, astrology, and magic (cf. Dan. 2:2, 4:7). These are practices that God says are an abomination to Him (Dt. 18:10-11). Similar equivalents today would be the delinquents on our membership list and palm-reading psychics.

God chose to reveal the Saviour’s birth through angels and a star not to life-long faithful worshippers or to pious pastors, but to those who cared nothing for Him and to those who sought answers from the devil and his demons. God thus confounds those who think they are wise and those who think they are righteous.

Jesus was born for sinners, not for those who are righteous in their own sight. Jesus came for the thieves, adulterers, gossips, heretics, and horoscope readers. He came not to harden them in their sin, but to turn them from their sin and to give them forgiveness. The Gospel is to console the humble and despised, and to them Christ is revealed, as He was revealed to the shepherds and magi.

The magi are sometimes called wise men, but it was not their wisdom that led them to Jesus. They had been looking for answers in all the wrong places. There are no answers to be found in magic. Black arts are the devil’s work and he is the father of lies. No truth is to be found in such witchcraft and sorcery. There are no answers in the stars. There is no truth to be found in the skies.

When it is said that one who is born in this or that sign must become a gambler or an addict, and whoever is born under this or that star will become rich or wise, it is sheer madness. What fool looks to answers from the stars, and makes life decisions based on where the stars are in the sky on a particular day? Who seeks answers from the stars for love, money, success, and health? Only one who is blinded by lies and cannot see the truth. Such a one is in the very grasp of the devil himself because he does not seek good from God, but from fables and lies. Such are not wise men, but mad, frantic, and senseless men.

Yet, somehow, God’s Word had reached these magi in Persia, Babylon, Arabia, or from wherever they were. The Jews had been in exile in Babylon, and it is quite likely that those in the east learned God’s Word from those exiles, such as the prophet Daniel. Surely they had heard Balaam’s oracle of a star coming out of Jacob, and a scepter rising out of Israel (Nu. 24:17). They traveled far to find this king of the Jews, certainly because they understood that He was their king too. They bowed down and worshiped Him because they knew He was not just another child, not even just another king, but the King of kings.

The birth of this King was received in a much different way in Jerusalem. When Herod the king heard from the magi that they were seeking the newborn king of the Jews, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Why was all of Jerusalem troubled? Should they not have been excited and overjoyed that the long-promised Saviour for whom they were waiting was finally come? But as Saint John writes, He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). He was not sought or acknowledged by His own people, but He was sought out by foreigners from far away with precious gifts in hand. The chief priests and scribes with Scriptures in hand did not acknowledge or worship the Saviour, but foreign sorcerers did.

Herod, of course, feared the loss of his kingdom. He was a foreigner himself and did not have the goodwill of the people. He also knew that the Jews were waiting for the Christ to deliver them from under Roman rule as Moses had delivered them from under Egyptian rule. If a new king had been born, Herod feared a rival for the throne and an insurrection from the Jews who did not want Herod as their king.

The people of Jerusalem were troubled because they knew what Herod was like. They feared bloodshed from this tyrant. They had also earlier revolted against the Romans which resulted in destruction, exile, enslavement, and death. They were troubled with how Herod would react to the news of the birth of a king of the Jews. Their fear was confirmed, when Herod, in trying to kill the infant Jesus, ordered all boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding region to be murdered.

Herod consulted Scripture in order to use it against God. He found out from Scripture that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, and thus it was the little boys of Bethlehem he put to death. He did not submit himself to God’s Word as the magi did.

Christ came for sinners like the magi. We can be offended at the fact that Christ’s birth was revealed to such sinners, or we can humble ourselves and submit to God’s Word, realizing that we also are such sinners. That is to say, Christ came for sinners like us.

We do not rejoice in our sin. We mourn and regret our sin and the harm we’ve done to ourselves and one another. We do rejoice that Christ came to save us from our sin. We are the sinners Christ came to save.

God’s Word has revealed to us who this infant was that Herod tried in vain to kill. He did come for the purpose of dying, but it would be His way and at His appointed time. It would be only when He had fulfilled what He came to do before dying. It would be after He had fulfilled the Law of God for us; after He had taught and healed many; after He had finished the works of God the Father. And no one could take His life away from Him. He laid it down of His own accord (John 10:18). Out of His great love for us, He laid down His life for sinful rebels like us, so that we have the promise of eternal life.

To keep us in the faith until we die, Christ instituted the sacred meal of the Sacrament of the Altar. He invites to His altar those who have sought answers in the wrong places; those who are weary in their fight with sin; those who struggle; those who are weak and heavy laden. Christ promises you rest because with His body and blood, He gives you forgiveness. He gives you rest from your sins because He died for your sins and takes them from you.

Group yourself with the magi, with delinquent members, and with palm-reading psychics as sinners whom Christ died to save. Repent and rejoice that God has revealed His promised Christ to you. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Baptism is Eternal

Sermon for the Baptism of our Lord based on Mark 1:4-11

Dear sons of God: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thousands of years ago, God said, “Let there be light.” Since God’s Word does not wear out, wither, or fade, we still have light today. God’s Word which created light so many years ago has not expired, otherwise we would be in absolute darkness; there would be no light. Time does not undo God’s Word, or make it of no effect.

God’s Word with which He claimed you in the waters of Holy Baptism does not wear out, wither, or fade either. It doesn’t matter how long ago God claimed you through Baptism, your Baptism has not expired and will not expire. Time does not undo God’s Word, or make it of no effect.

We confess this truth also in how we deal with the elements consecrated for holy communion. The bread that has been consecrated to be the body of Christ, and the wine that has been consecrated to be the blood of Christ are treated with the understanding that God’s Word does not wear out, wither, or fade. Time does not undo God’s Word, or make it of no effect.

How can you undo God’s Word? Once God’s Word has been joined to the bread and wine, so that we have the true presence of Christ’s body and blood on the altar, how do you undo it? How do you reverse it? How do you cancel it? By waiting for a few minutes? By saying the benediction? By taking the elements out of the nave?

Since we cannot undo God’s eternal Word, we simply do what Christ instructed: we take eat and we take drink. We consume what has been consecrated to be the body and blood of Christ. God’s Word does not expire.

We, however, will expire. Our bodies will die, but God’s Word will not. The fact that we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection cannot be undone. The fact that we are in communion with Christ through the Sacrament of the Altar will not expire.

In the Baptism of our Lord the heavens were torn open to Him and the Holy Spirit descended on Him. No less happened to us in our Baptism. We could not see it, but that is nevertheless exactly what happened. We were given the gift of the Holy Spirit and the heavens are open to receive us when we die from this life. We were adopted as God’s sons and God is well pleased with us because our sins were washed away in Baptism.

There is a danger, however, that comes with Baptism. Baptism puts a target on your back for the devil. You either belong to the devil, or you belong to God. There is no one else to whom you can belong. In Baptism, God snatches us away from the devil, whose child we are by nature. God claims us away from the devil for Himself.

Don’t think for a second that the devil doesn’t care. The moment that one is baptized the devil goes to work to get him back. The devil knows that God’s Word will not expire, but his goal is to make us reject what God has given to us in Baptism. His goal is to make us believe that our Baptism wears off and that God’s Word is not eternal.

Immediately once Jesus was baptized, the devil tempted Him. That is the next verse if we would have kept reading in Mark’s gospel. This was no coincidence. The devil also comes after all of us with temptations immediately when we are baptized.

For this reason, it is not a good idea to baptize an infant if the parents have no intention of raising the child in the faith. Doing so brings the devil with his temptations, yet without God’s Word regularly sustaining the child’s faith, that faith will die.

Thus, parents are required to make an oath before God and the congregation that they will teach the faith to their child, promise to bring the child into God’s house, and bring him to the altar rail to receive the strengthening of faith in the Lord’s Supper when he grows up. Without these, faith dies, just like the flame of a lamp with no oil.

We even have sponsors for Baptisms, who are supposed to encourage the baptized in his faith and in regular church attendance, so that his faith does not die.

If you are a baptismal sponsor and your godchildren are not regularly attending Divine Service, call them up and encourage them. Tell them to stop acting like their Baptism has worn off, and to stop despising their Baptism. Tell them to come hear God’s Word and to be strengthened in their faith before it dies.

In all this, we see that the problem is not with Baptism, but with us. Baptism cannot be extolled and praised enough. Baptism cannot be held in high enough esteem.

Thus, Luther directs us in the Catechism during daily prayers at morning and evening to make the sign of the cross on ourselves in remembrance of our Baptism. Thus, our hymnal in every order of service directs us to make the sign of the cross during the Invocation, as a reminder to us that we are baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. During the Creeds when we confess that we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting, the hymnal also directs us to make the sign of the cross to remind us that this very body of ours will be raised from the dead because we are baptized into Christ.

The certainty of Baptism is why we should continually remember and celebrate our Baptism. God’s Word which claimed us in Baptism will not wear out, wither, or fade. Our Baptism will never expire.

When guilt comes chasing us, we should flee to our Baptism for refuge. When the devil comes with his temptations, we should flee to our Baptism for strength to resist and overcome temptation. When death and disease come knocking, we should find comfort in our Baptism which has rescued us from death, disease, and every danger to our bodies and lives.

Baptism is how you can stand before the holy Lord God almighty without fear of being destroyed because your sins are covered. Baptism is how you can receive the body and blood of Jesus without receiving the Sacrament to your judgment and death. Baptism is how you have been set free from sin and live in newness of life.

Just as God’s Word which created light has not expired, so also His Word which has claimed you in Baptism has not expired. He has also given you His eternal Word and the Sacrament of the Altar which nourish the faith given to you in Baptism, and strengthen you against the devil and his temptations. They strengthen your faith in what God gave you in Baptism, so that you do not reject His great gift to you.

Just as the heavens were opened to Jesus at His Baptism, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him, and He was declared by God the Father to be His beloved Son in Whom He is well pleased, so also because of our Baptism into Christ, the heavens are open for us, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, and God declares us His sons who are well pleasing to Him.

God’s Word will not be undone. His claim on you will not wear out, wither, or fade. God’s name on you will not expire. You belong to Him forever. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Baptism is No Empty Show

Sermon for the Baptism of our Lord based on Matthew 3:13-17

Dear baptized believers: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

God doesn’t do things just for show. He’s not a poser or a pretender. He doesn’t care for empty pomp or ceremonies. When God does something, there is a reason He does it, and He accomplishes something through what He does.

When it comes to the baptism of our Lord, then, we know that it was not an empty show that took place. Jesus was not merely baptized to be an example or to make a demonstration. Herein can lie some confusion.

John the Baptist was baptizing with a baptism of repentance, but Jesus had no sins of which He needed to repent. All the crowds of sinners were coming and confessing their sins, repenting of them, and receiving baptism. So, if Jesus’ baptism was not just an empty show, and if He had no sins of which He needed to repent, why was He baptized? Why does Jesus stand with the crowds of sinners and receive baptism like a sinner?

That’s what John the Baptist wondered, too. He said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” John wasn’t just saying that he’d rather not baptize Jesus, he was saying that it doesn’t make any sense to him. Jesus is the greater; John the lesser. Jesus is perfect; John is sinful. Jesus would institute a Baptism with the Holy Spirit; John was merely baptizing with water. Why would Jesus come to John for baptism?

Jesus responded to John by saying, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” See, Jesus’ baptism was not only for show. Jesus’ baptism fulfilled all righteousness.

Righteousness is the state of being right before God. Righteousness means being acceptable before God. Righteousness is perfection, holiness, and purity. Jesus fulfilled all this in His baptism.

It cannot be for Himself that He fulfilled these things. Jesus was already right before God and acceptable before God. Jesus was already perfect, holy, and pure. Rather, Jesus fulfilled all righteousness for you. To prove this, the heavens were torn open at Jesus’ baptism, once again for you.

Heaven was already open for Jesus. He came from heaven and would return to heaven. At Jesus’ baptism, heaven was opened for you. All righteousness was fulfilled for you.

The Holy Spirit descended like a dove and rested on Jesus. God the Father announced from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

See, the Baptism of our Lord was no empty show. It was no empty ceremony or demonstration. Jesus’ baptism fulfilled all righteousness. Heaven was opened, the Holy Spirit was present, and it was well pleasing to God the Father.

So also, your Baptism was no empty show. It was no empty ceremony or demonstration. Because of Jesus’ baptism, in your Baptism you received Jesus’ righteousness. Because of Jesus’ baptism, in your Baptism heaven was torn open for you, and remains open to receive you when you die. You were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and God the Father declared you His son with whom He is well pleased.

No one can take this away from you. God will never forget His promises to you that He made to you when you were baptized. He’s not going to change His mind about you and expect you to fulfil the righteousness that Jesus already fulfilled for you. God’s not going to close heaven to you or say that you are no longer pleasing to Him.

In order that you don’t wander from Him, God has given you His Word to strengthen your faith and teach you. In order that you won’t forget His promises to you, He reminds you again and again of His promises in the Bible.

So that you won’t walk away from all the promises that He has made to you in your Baptism, God gives you a meal that nourishes your faith and feeds your soul.

The Lord’s Supper is no empty show. It is no empty ceremony or demonstration. It’s not some meaningless ritual that we follow for the sake of tradition. God doesn’t do things just for show. He’s not a poser or a pretender. He doesn’t care for empty pomp or ceremonies. When God does something, there is a reason He does it, and He accomplishes something through what He does.

In the Lord’s Supper, God gives us the body and blood of His Son, Jesus, our Saviour, to eat and to drink. Through it, He strengthens us in the faith of our Baptism and He nourishes us to eternal life. Through it, He gives us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

God gives us these real and certain Sacraments because He knows us. He knows how weak we are and how prone to wander. He knows that we are in a world filled with trouble and illness, doubts and temptation. He knows the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us.

To save us from real sins, from real temptations, from real doubts, and from a real enemy, no empty show would do. Thus, God gives to us real gifts in the Sacraments to give to us the righteousness that Christ has accomplished through His birth, baptism, life, death, and resurrection.

Because you are baptized into Christ, when God looks at you, He doesn’t see your sins. He sees Christ’s righteousness. There is no remaining righteousness for you to fulfil. After all, Christ did say that He would fulfil all righteousness.

All righteousness is fulfilled, and has been given to you in your Baptism, because Baptism is not some empty show or ceremony. Baptism is where you received Christ’s righteousness; where you were declared right and acceptable before God – perfect, holy, and pure. Baptism is where heaven was torn open for you, and remains open to receive you when you die. Baptism is where you were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and God the Father declared you His son with whom He is well pleased. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Through Wine

Dear people for whom Jesus came: Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Epiphany means “appearance” or “manifestation.” During Epiphany, Jesus is revealed to us. The Christmas baby is manifested to be none other than God in the flesh. As we heard last week, this was clear in the Baptism of our Lord when God the Father proclaimed Him publically to be His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. God has come to earth!

But what does this mean and what should we expect? John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the coming of God in the flesh preached fire and brimstone. Repent! The axe is laid to the root of the trees! Bear good fruit or be thrown into hell! (cf. Luke 3:9) He went around in a rough garment of camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey as he preached. So the Coming One who is mightier than John, what do we expect of Him? More of the same, right? Only mightier and stronger.

Yet Jesus did not go around in rough clothing or eat a meagre diet of locusts and wild honey. And the first of Jesus’ mighty signs and wonders did not take place in the wilderness. The first miracle Jesus performed was at a party. And Jesus didn’t raise someone from the dead or heal someone who was sick. His first miracle was giving more wine to partiers who had been drinking all day and had already had plenty to drink. And He didn’t just bring a few bottles of wine to the party. Six thirty gallon jars of water turned into wine would be the equivalent of 907 bottles of wine! And not just any cheap wine, but some good quality wine that made the master of the feast take notice and ask why the good wine was being brought out to the party so late. Is this what you would expect from God in the flesh?

Many people back then had trouble with it, too. They called Jesus a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Luke 7:34). It all just didn’t seem right to them. But then again, John the Baptist didn’t seem right to them either. Those who had a problem with Jesus also had a problem with John the Baptist. Because John did not eat bread or drink wine, these people said he had a demon (Luke 7:33). John did not join the people in their festivities. In fact, the angel Gabriel told John’s father that he was not to drink wine or strong drink at all (Luke 1:15).

But the real problem they had with John was his message of repentance. It had nothing to do with the fact that he didn’t drink wine or strong drink. Those who didn’t want to turn from their sins, responded to John by accusing him of having a demon, even though all he did was bring them God’s Word of repentance – turn from your sins and live. They found excuses not to listen to him, whether it was his clothing of camel’s hair, his food of locusts and wild honey, or the fact that he wouldn’t drink alcohol and party with them.

Jesus came with the same message of repentance – turn from your sins and live. And there were many that did. Sinners of all sorts came to Jesus for Absolution. Tax collectors and prostitutes came to Jesus, and He forgave them. Jesus ate and drank with the lowlifes of the earth.

This didn’t sit too well with those who didn’t like Jesus’ message of repentance. They didn’t want to repent of their sins, and they didn’t think that tax collectors and prostitutes deserved forgiveness. They didn’t want to turn from their sins, so they responded to Jesus by accusing him of being a glutton and a drunkard. They found excuses not to listen to him, whether it was his forgiving of sinners they didn’t think deserved forgiveness or the fact that He ate and drank at parties.

God in the flesh was not what people expected. He was not the rough wilderness man John was, staying away from parties and alcohol. Nor was He socializing with the elites and the nobility to the exclusion of the poor and marginalized. Rather, Jesus ate and drank with all sinners regardless of their social status because everyone needs forgiveness.

Jesus didn’t come to bring new laws or to crush us with existing laws. He knew that we are already crushed by the Law. He knew we are unable to do what God’s Law requires of us. He knew that we sin in thought, word, and deed, by why we have done and by what we have left undone. Jesus came to do what we cannot do. He came to fulfil the Law for us. He came with forgiveness and healing for broken sinners. He came to dwell with us, even at our parties. He came to give wine to partiers celebrating God’s good gift of marriage.

It may seem like a little thing. Sure, God cares about the big things in our lives. But we see that He cares also about the little things. He cared even that the wedding party ran out of wine. He tells us that even the hairs on our heads are numbered (Luke 12:7).

This may not be the God that we expect. A provider of wine and a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But this is the God that Jesus is. He remains a friend of tax collectors and sinners. He continues to call us to repentance – not because He wants to condemn us, but because He wants to forgive us. He bore the crushing weight of the Law so that ours sins are forgiven.

His forgiveness to us is as overflowing as His generosity to the wedding couple of Cana. When He gives us His true body in Holy Communion with the bread, we may just eat a little wafer of bread, but that little bread is overflowing with forgiveness. When He gives us His true blood in Holy Communion with the wine, we may just take a little sip, but that sip is overflowing with forgiveness – more than 907 bottles worth. Because Jesus does not just give a little bit of Himself to us in the Lord’s Supper. He gives all of Himself to each of us, just like He gave all of Himself to death for our sins.

This may not be the God we would expect. But since when has God abided by our expectations? Through turning water into wine and His many other mighty signs and wonders, Jesus manifested Himself to be God. His resurrection from the dead proved to be His ultimate mighty sign as He proved Himself victorious over sin, death, and the grave.

Because Jesus manifested Himself as God, we know that what He said concerning coming to us today in miraculous but hidden form is true. He can turn water into wine and He can give His blood with wine for us to drink. Feasting at His altar gives us eternal life and brings us to the ultimate party – the heavenly banquet; the feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end. This is described in Isaiah as “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” (Is. 25:6)

You have God’s invitation to this eternal banquet, and you can rest assured He’ll be serving more than 907 bottle of wine, and it’ll better wine than you’ve ever had. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.