A Sign Of Things To Come
There are certain things in life that are, really important for each of us. Things like books and automobiles and computers and hospitals and schools and chocolate. Things that are useful and helpful and necessary as we move through this human life.
One thing that certainly is useful is the common "sign". Road signs, advertising signs, people moving signs, street signs and names on mailboxes, are all very visible tools within our life. Whether one is driving in the city, or hiking a nature trail, or trying to visit a member, signs are present to help direct us.
But signs can do more than just direct our physical meanderings. There are signs that can guide our inner lives as well as our feet, and it is this kind of sign that is revealed at the wedding at Cana.
You know, signs are seldom ends in themselves, and John's gospel is full of signs like the miracle at Cana, which are used to point to something or someone else, used to reveal something, to tell us something; mainly about Jesus Christ.
Thus the miracle in the text is more than just a story about Jesus. It is a "sign of things to come"...a miracle story through which we learn about who Jesus really is. In this miracle we see a sign of Jesus' power a sign of Jesus' concern a sign of Jesus' kingdom
1. The first thing we discover in this event is that it is a sign of Jesus' power. Not too many of us are skilled at changing water into wine. If I did that today for communion, there would be lots of attention paid. So it's interesting to note how matter of factly John reported the incident.
The thing was, John knew all about Jesus' power by the time he wrote this, so he may not have sounded as surprised as those who heard about the miracle at the wedding. At the time, however, those disciples around Jesus, and the servants who carried the water must have been astounded. This miracle was a sign of real power!
It was more than a sign that Jesus could do exciting things. John's a serious writer, and there's a deeper message in his record of that miracle. John wants the reader to know that Jesus had power to change the relationship between the Jews and their God. This was something new. This was someone new.
The rituals that the Jews had been keeping for thousands of years, were suddenly to be changed. No longer would one be purified by ritual washing, but by forgiveness in Christ.
We know how difficult it to change; especially in institutions like the church. Every year sees changes, and some like it and some don't, for some it's easy and for others it's difficult. The changes that Jesus brought were earth-shattering. Small wonder the religious leaders were soon unhappy with him!
No longer would they need to supervise the ritual cleansing; their jugs were out dated. Jesus needed them for wine...sacramental wine, that brought real cleansing...that brought forgiveness of sins. The miracle at Cana is a sign of the power of Jesus to bring forgiveness and life eternal.
2. Secondly, the miracle at Cana is a sign of Jesus' concern. the human level, we see Jesus acting out of concern for another family.
To some it may seem silly that Jesus should involve himself with human celebration and with an alcoholic beverage. How frivolous we might say...if Jesus is going to demonstrate power, let him do something dramatic like moving a mountain into the sea or driving the Romans out of Galilee.
But maybe this miracle isn't as frivolous as it seems; maybe it shows quite clearly just who this Jesus is and what kind of person he is. For here at the wedding at Cana we get a glimpse of the concern of Jesus with the ordinary person, with his fellow human being. Jesus identifies with people...be it the host at the wedding, or be it a guilt-ridden tax collector, or a woman caught in adultery, or a leper shunned by his neighbors.
What Jesus reveals in this miracle is just how deeply he (as God) cares about all people. He comes not just to show power, but to show concern. He gives us a picture of our God who cares for us, too. The God of all creation feels our hurt, our humiliation, our pain. God is not aloof and withdrawn and uncaring. God is sensitive to those things that may seem unimportant to the rest of the world, but which for you and for me are critically important.
Jesus invites us to share our concerns with God and hear of God's concern and love for us.
3. Thirdly we see in this text a sign of the promised kingdom. Throughout the OT, one of the most consistent figures for the joy of the final days is an abundance of wine. In Amos we read: "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the halls shall flow with it." 9:13-14a
Perhaps then, we can understand why Jesus produced such an abundance of wine for a wedding party which had already consumed what the host thought appropriate. The joy of the wedding looks ahead to the joy of God's kingdom...joy that is far beyond our earthly imaginations. Jesus, in this miracle, tries to give us some sign of the joy faith in him can bring into our lives and into our future.
Earlier in his Gospel, in the verses following the wonderful Christmas Gospel, John tells us "And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." (1:16)
Now he reminds us again that when the grace of God comes to men and women and children there is enough and more to spare for all. The wedding party at Cana couldn't exhaust the amount of wine Jesus provided. Nor can any need on earth exhaust the grace of Christ. There is a glorious superabundance in Christ's grace...and the grace we know now, in the sacrament and in the word, is but a sign of things to come tomorrow and tomorrow and all the days after the morrow.
May we be filled with the joy of all the good things that are in Jesus Christ our Lord, and see him a "sign of things to come." Amen.
Daniel J. Behnke