Epiphany 3, 2018

The Epistle – Romans 12:16b-21

The Gospel – St. John 2:1-11 

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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In our Gospel lesson for today, we have the fourth Epiphany of Christ. This time we are in Cana of Galilee…about 8 miles away from Nazareth.  

 

Jesus is at a wedding feast along with mother, brothers and the Disciples.

 

Weddings in this time lasted 7 days. Many people were invited so there would be a flow of people coming and going.

 

 

When the wine runs out His mother tells Him about it. A 7-day supply is probably not always easy to secure and running out would be very much an embarrassment to the host. 

 

And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

 

It is always good to look for cultural guidance when reading things like this. We hear this reply with a more modern understanding.

 

New Testament scholars have written to this and believe that this is more like using the term ma’am today.

 

He does say “what does this have to do with me?  My hour has not yet come.”

 

This is understood as Jesus telling His mother, the time for me to be more public has not yet arrived.

 

Craig Keener says, “Because Jesus’ “hour” in John refers especially to the cross, here Jesus is saying, “Once I begin doing miracles, I begin the road to the cross.”[1]

 

Jesus knew well that once His ministry went public, there was a certain direction it must go and that was to His death.

He was not afraid to begin the ministry, but it was to be at that time of His choosing. And this was not the time.

 

As we know from the account. Jesus had the men fill up the purification jars that were nearby. These jars are thought to hold about 25 gallons each.

 

They are filled to the brim. Jesus instructs the man in charge of the party, the distribution of food and drink, to draw some out and take it to the Master of the house.

 

He does so and when the master tastes it, he says, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

The good wine usually is served first….. and when people have had a few, less quality or more diluted drinks… knowing that people’s sense of taste has dulled and won't notice much of a difference.

 

John then closes this section by telling us, “This, the first of his [miracles], Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (ESV)

 

This is the first of Jesus’ miracles….and in doing this miracle, John says, Jesus “manifested His glory.”

 

So, as Epiphany is about manifestations and appearances, here is our manifestation today.

 

These have progressed, as you might have noticed, from birth to young age, to baptism as an adult to His first miracle.

 

At each manifestation, we have seen a different aspect of Christ. Born to Jewish parents, so God manifesting Himself to the Jews.

 

Then to the Gentiles as the Magi arrive.

Then to His contemporaries, teachers and rabbis as one who was at an early age being already devoted to His Father’s business…. In the Temple worshiping God.

 

Then at His baptism we see Christ is united with His Father and The Spirit as One God. A very significant manifestation.

And now today, manifesting His deity once more by performing a miracle. That closes by saying, “and His disciples believed in Him.”

 

They were there. They were eyewitnesses. They saw the miracle….and though it is a big deal, we are told there that only the Disciples and some servants witnessed it…keeping true to His “time not being yet.”

 

They saw that water jugs were filled with water and when drawn from, the water had become wine.

 

Water plays a prominent role in both the Old and New Testaments.

 

Keener, quoted earlier also says, “Moses’ first sign was to turn water into blood.”  Exodus 7:20. Moses takes his staff, strikes the water and it turns to blood.

This miracle today is not necessarily a reversal of that.

 

Water to blood was a curse and water to wine was a blessing. But, probably it was not done to call their minds back to Moses…even though Jesus is the new Moses.

 

But again, water plays a prominent role in the Bible, but also in the Christian Church, and the Christian faith.

 

 

We are witness to a supernatural event today as we see water taken and poured over the head of little Reagan Nicole Holbert.

 

So, as the wine in our Gospel demonstrates Christ’s miracle working power and how it brought relief to a worried host, the waters today of baptism bring a new birth to one of God’s creatures and the promise of the seal of the Holy Spirit upon her.

 

Let us then look once again at this ordinance and sacrament and renew our understanding of it and our faith in Christ who Himself was baptized so that He would have it in common with us as well……

….. to show in the best and surest possible way that Reagan, along with all of us here are in union and fellowship with Him.

 

In Epiphany we concentrate on the times in the life of Christ when He showed forth or manifested some sort of aspect of His nature or power.

 

There are many more instances than the 6 that we sometimes hear about during the Christian year.

 

His baptism, which was last week’s Gospel lesson, showed us just who Christ is beyond the baby in the manger or the young boy in the temple.

 

Upon His baptism, Christ, joined by the Father’s voice and the Spirit’s visible presence in the form of a dove, showed us that He is certainly not of this world.

 

Though He took on human flesh, He remains the second person of the Holy and Blessed Trinity.

 

And yet beyond the glory of this event with the appearing of the Trinity we have this important act of Jesus being baptized.

 

We usually and regularly tie baptism to the washing away of sins.

Jesus was sinless.

So why did He get baptized?

 

Why did He tell John, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (ESV)

 

Jesus’ desire was not to wash away sins He had not yet and never would commit.

 

His desire was to fulfill all righteousness.

 

What does He mean by that?

Jesus said in another place that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it.

He wanted to identify with Israel and their call to obedience to God’s Law. 

 

Fulfilling all righteousness for a Jew meant that every jot and tittle of the law of God had to be fulfilled.[2]

In order that Jesus be the “Lamb that takes away the sin of the world,” He had to obey every jot and tittle of the law.[3]

 

Commentator - The general reason why Christ received baptism was, that he might render full obedience to the Father; and the special reason was, that he might consecrate baptism in his own body, that we might have it in common with him.[4]

 

Christ was baptized for us as well as to obey the Law.

 

Now….the Law calls us to perfect obedience.

 


We are unable to fully comply with that command. We can try but we will soon fail. By the time we grow old enough and wise enough to try, it’s too late because we have already failed to keep it.

 

So, He was baptized so that He might relate to us in this act. Though He had no sins to wash away at baptism, the full weight of the sins of the whole world would later be laid on Him.

 

As the Church continues this practice as a command that we must follow if we are to call ourselves Christians, we are here today again participating in what the Church has done since Christ beautified it by His own baptism and then called each of us to undergo as well.

What happens to little Reagan this day?

 

She is brought by her family, supported by god parents.

The god parents have been already instructed …and are again now…. What they are doing for her.

 

They stand in and answer for her, as she is too young to answer for herself.

 

We can trace this act of baptism back to its Old Testament parallel. …circumcision. Performed only on males, obviously, this was the act whereby one was made a member of the covenant of the people of God.

 

Israel practiced this at God’s command through Moses, to signify something very important.

 

Circumcision was the partial “cutting off” that kept one from being entirely cut off or excommunicated from the people of God.

 

You were either devoted or given to the blessings of that covenant by undergoing it or you remained under the curse and remained outside of the covenant if you did not undergo it.

 

She may not look like it or show it but she is born as we all are under the curse of sin.

 

Today in baptism, that curse she received from being in Adam is now swallowed up, upon being baptized into Christ.

 

Paul says it this way. He says we have been in baptism, “…circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, [12] having been buried with him in baptism, in which [we] were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (ESV)

 

Reagan is now, through baptism, admitted into the Church.

She is born again. She reckoned as a child of God.

 

Now, Paul in his letter to the Galatians says that we are brought into the Church, having received adoption and yet there is growth to see as well.

 

He goes on to say that Christ still needs to be formed in her. …as He continues to be formed in us….through obedience and sanctification by grace.

 

She is washed in the waters of regeneration. She is adopted into the Church and as the Westminster Catechism says, grace is promised to her…not only offered but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Spirit.

 

 

God’s grace, we trust and believe will then be given unto her as she gets older but all “according to the counsel of God’s own will in His appointed time.”

 

So, the family, including the god parents have the duty to now make sure she grows in the faith that has been conferred upon her today.

 

As the Prayer Book instructs the god parents, they must now take heed that this Child, so soon as sufficiently instructed in the faith of Christ, be brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him.

 

 

 

So there is a new birth and a new beginning today, that must then take root by instruction, prayer, and grace so that what has begun in her today will grow to completion on the day of Christ.

 

One Anglican writer says about all of this… “This adoption or regeneration [today] however, brings us only to that field in which both weeds and wheat grow together until the harvest.”

 

She has a lifetime ahead of her to live in the presence of God. She is to be raised and educated by godly parents and god parents, so as to guide her and nourish her in this faith, so that her own faith may grow and increase.

 

Let us pray for Reagan today for her growth in the Christian faith.

Let us give renewed thanksgiving for our own baptism and adoption into the family of God through Christ.

 

And let us ultimately give thanks to Christ, who manifested Himself to be the Son of God in His own baptism and made use of the creation of water in many ways to lead us to eternal life.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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[1] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Jn 2:4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (2013). Matthew (p. 46). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (2013). Matthew (p. 46). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[4] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, p. 202). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.