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Jesus Fixed It
January 18, 2004
by Tony Grant
I now invite you to turn to the gospel of John, chapter 2, and follow along as I read verses 1-11. Hear what the Spirit says to us.
1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
Amen. The Word of God. Thanks be to God.
Some folks want to begin their marriage with an oddball wedding. Michelle is a Michigan woman who works at a 7-11. She loves her customers, her work, and her fiancé. So she married him on the asphalt outside the 7-11 on 7/11, on July 11th, carrying her bouquet in a Super Big Gulp cup. At the reception, hot dogs and Slurpees were served at reduced prices.
In Washington state, a wedding was celebrated eighteen stories up atop the Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge soaring over Puget Sound and high above the speeding traffic whizzing by down below. The happy twosome walked what may be the longest aisle in wedding history.
In Maine, one couple first met at their town trash disposal station — locally known as The Dump. He had just starting working there. She had just brought her first recyclables. They plan to be married where they met while standing in the bucket loader.
I suppose that it does not matter where the wedding takes place, whether at the dump or the 7-11. In our scripture to day, the wedding at Cana was not exceptional for its location. It was just an ordinary wedding until the wine ran out, and mom intervened and got Jesus to fix it.
Now I confess to you that when I first began to read this scripture from John, I thought that it was about a wedding, and I thought that the natural direction of this sermon should be to talk about the meaning and significance of weddings and marriages, but as I continued to read, I realized that this scripture is not about a wedding at all. Yes, we are told in v2 that “there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee,” but we are never told who is getting married. Mary and Jesus are at the wedding reception. We are not told why they are there. Was this the marriage of some relative? We do not know. What is the significant thing that we know about this wedding? We know that the wine gave out at the reception.
Most weddings, as lovely as they are, are forgettable — except your own, and the ones on bridges, or at The Dump. Unforgettable weddings usually are about something that went wrong—like a fainting bride, or a no-show groom, or a bridesmaid who fell in the mud on the way in the door, or a smiling minister who repeatedly and confidently calls the bride and groom by the wrong names.
Jesus, his mother, and his friends attended an unforgettable wedding in Cana. People are still talking about this one. It was just your typical, traditional wedding celebration with an average reception — until the wine gave out. Customarily the better wine was served first at Galilean wedding receptions. This makes sense, when you think about it. You serve the good wine first, when the palate is fresh and expectant. After a few pints, no one would care if you brought out some inferior stuff.
But to run out of wine before it is time was a breech of hospitality, a humiliation for the host, a social disaster. Picture a stressed-out host trying to find more wine while quietly badgering his servants. Picture the servants’ fear.
For whatever reason, Mary, Jesus’ mother, got involved in the wine problem. We do not know why. Maybe it was the wedding of a relative. Maybe Mary just thought that marriages were worth celebrating. We can almost hear Mary saying, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll talk to my son. He can fix anything.” So, Mary tells Jesus, “They’re out of wine.”
Jesus replies “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?” (v. 4). In other words, he says, “Here is a quarter, call someone who cares.” But actually he did care.
There are ancient stories of Jesus’ youthful miracles written in a New Testament apocryphal gospel called The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior. One story describes how Jesus, ever the dutiful son, helped in the family carpentry business. Every carpenter knows this rule: measure twice, cut once, because if a board is cut too short you can not stretch it to fit — not then, not now, unless Jesus is your son.
According to the Infancy Gospel, the young Jesus worked with his carpenter dad. Dad was not too good a carpenter, so this gospel says. Every time any product of their workshop was the wrong size, which apparently was fairly often, Joseph asked Jesus to fix it. Jesus, according to this apocryphal tale, would wave his hand over the finished piece, thus miraculously stretching it or shrinking it to the right size. Even if this story or the others like it in the New Testament Apocrypha are mythology, it is reasonable to assume that Mary, his mother, knew he could fix things like no other son could; otherwise, she would never have suggested that Jesus fix the wine problem.
The miracle was simple. Fill six large ceramic jars with water. Dip a cup. Take the cup to the wedding coordinator. Let him taste. Suddenly there were 120 to 180 gallons of excellent wine, which was enough for the rest of the reception. Certainly the guests tasted the quality improvement. They speculated: “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now” (v. 10).
So what does all this mean? John tells us in v11: “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (v. 11). So let us make it more personal. What does this scripture mean to me?
It means that if Jesus can fix a problem with wine at a wedding reception. He can fix our problem also. If he can change water into wine, he can change us also.
Our problem is that we have not always lived in the way God approves. We have not done what we should have done and we have done what we should not have done. Our problem is that we have not always served God. Sometimes we have served the devil. To be blunt, our problem is our sin. We have lived sinful lives and our sin has erected a barrier between us and God. We were made in God’s image to have communion with God, but we have built this wall of sin that have broken our communion.
Sin is universal. Sin is everywhere. Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;” And we know that. Whatever our pretensions, we know that we are the sinners the Bible talks about. We feel the guilt of our sins. We feel condemned by our failure to live God’s way.
There was a woman who was a success in business. She was successful because she was ruthless and merciless in her business, also her accounting methods were sort of shady, to say the least. One day a visiting minister came to her church and preached on sin and repentance. The woman stopped going to church. The regular pastor having returned and noticing her absence after several Sabbaths, went around to see her. She told him in no uncertain terms what the problem was. She said, “That other minister spent his whole sermon talking about me, and my personal life, and I do not think that was right, and the only way for him to know those things about me was for you to tell him, and I do not think that was right.”
The minister was astonished. Of course, he had not told the visiting minister about this woman. What had happened? The visiting minister had preached about how a Christian ought to live, and that had struck her to the heart. She was condemned by her own heart.
So are we all. What then should we do? Before we ask that question, we must first ask what God has done. What has God done about the wall of sin that separates us from him?
God sent Jesus to fix it. God sent Jesus to redeem us from sin. Turning water into wine was a minor miracle of transformation. In a way, it was not a big deal, and if we read what Jesus says in our text, he almost says that. Reconciling us to God, however, tearing down the wall of sin, is a big deal. To restore our fellowship with God, required blood. Rom. 5:9: “Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.” We have been justified, we have been made acceptable before God, by the blood of Jesus.
In the Old Testament and the New, blood is connected with redemption. In Lev. 16, the procedure of the day of atonement for the ancient Israelites is laid out. On that day, the High Priest went into the holy of holies in the temple, and sprinkled the blood of sacrifice upon the mercy seat. This was done only once a year, and only by the High Priest.
In the light of the New Testament, we realize that the High Priest of ancient Israel was a type of Christ. Before the coming of Jesus, God gave his people a symbol of the kind of work that the messiah would do. When the High Priest brought blood into the sanctuary, as commanded in Lev 16, he symbolized the atoning blood of Jesus. Just as only the High Priest could carry the blood of sacrifice into the holy of holies, in the Old Testament, so in the New Testament, only our High Priest, only Jesus Christ, can offer the blood of sacrifice for our sins.
Do you remember the story of the first Passover in the book of Exodus. God told his people to smear the blood of the Passover lamb upon their doors. God promised that the angel of death would pass over that house where blood was upon the door. Again, this is a symbol of the blood of forgiveness that has been shed for believers in Jesus Christ. If we are covered by the blood, then God’s wrath against sin passes over us.
But God requires the blood. People may say they do not understand why this should be. People may say that it does not seem reasonable that God would require a blood sacrifice to make us acceptable to him. That does not matter. God requires it. God demands that a perfect, sinless life be sacrificed for our sin. God’s justice cannot be satisfied until sin is covered by the blood. We cannot be right with God, until our sin is covered by the blood.
This is God’s way. It is the way that seems foolish to man, but we either accept it, and through the blood of Jesus we are made right with God, or we reject it, and our sins are not covered by the blood, and we face the judgment of God. We accept by faith alone. We believe that with the blood of Jesus God wipes clean the slate of our lives and makes us acceptable to him.
That is the message God has for us in the New Testament. The blood overcomes sin. It is a wonderful message of hope and promise. Every person on this planet should rejoice at such good news. Jesus has fixed it. At a terrible price to himself, he has torn down the wall of sin and restored our fellowship with God.
Now you make say, “Well, with news like that, why does not everyone accept Christ? Why, when God has graciously opened the doors of heaven through the blood of Jesus, do some many set their faces toward the pits of hell?”
Because we have an adversary in the world. His name is Satan. He is the accuser. He wrestles with God for your soul. But he cannot overcome the blood. Because when the blood covers you, God is on your side.
Without the blood, this is not so. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, since the beginning of history, man has been alienated from God. We fell into sin and sin prevented any fellowship with God. But in Christ, we are again united with God, and if God is with us then Satan cannot triumph over us.
Satan will tell you that your sins are not forgiven. Satan will confront you with your old sins. He will bring up past sins and say, “What about this? You did this. God will not forgive you for it.”
What should you do when Satan accuses you? Turn to the word of God. I John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Do you have perhaps some small sins that you are aware of? Perhaps you do not even think they are sins. We would describe them as minor failings. Never mind that the blood of Jesus cleanses us of “minor failings.” But maybe there are some bigger things that you do not want anyone to know about. You have some major sin in your life. Jesus can fix it. His blood cleanses us of major sin. Maybe you have a sin that you think is unforgiveable. Cling to this verse, I John 1:7. “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses ME from all sin.”
Jesus has fixed my sin problem At the wedding in Cana of Galilee, Jesus change water into wine. Now that was a minor miracle, and I suppose that we should not make too much of it, but it was a miracle of transformation. It points us to the greater miracle of transformation. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus shed his blood to change sinners into saints.
Thus, you and I come to God on the basis of what Jesus did, not on the basis of what you did or I did.
Look at it this way. We are American citizens. We were all probably born citizens, but suppose we were in some other country, and we wanted to be Americans. We might learn English. We might try to speak like an American and act like an American. But that does not make you an American. To be an American you must come to this country and pass the test for citizenship.
Le us apply this then to spiritual things. I want citizenship in another country. It is a better country than any on this earth. It is ruled by the king of kings and lord of lords. It is a beautiful country, pleasant to the eye. The name of this country is heaven, and I want to be a citizen there.
How do I go about it? I know that the people of that place do good works, and so I do good works, but that does not make me a citizen of heaven, any more than a foreigner acting like an American makes him an American. In order to see heaven, I must pass the test of citizenship. I must believe in Jesus. I must be covered by the blood of the lamb. If I am not covered, then no matter how good I may be, I am not a citizen of those heavenly fields. But if I am trusting in Jesus, then I may stand before God with confidence. I know that Jesus fixed it. He covered my sins with his blood, and obtained forgiveness for me. Do you know that? Do you realize that? Christ obtained forgivness for me. Amen.
Leslie, Candace. “Wacky or wonderful? Unusual weddings.” Lovetripper.com and The Portland Press Herald, July 15, 2003, 2B.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
Copyright 2003 York Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
Last modified 03/23/04