The wedding at Cana was a dull affair.
That’s not pessimism. I’m just emphasizing what’s true:
They ran out of wine.
Steakhouses always have steak. Burger joints always have burgers. And Walmart has “Low Prices. Always.”
Weddings never run out of wine—so the families involved are poor or wasteful—either way, that’s a problem.
Mary said to Jesus, “They have no wine” (John 2:3).
And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).
That is, the hour for the Son of Man to be glorified has not yet come.
It’s not yet time for Him to ascend the Cross and win humanity away from sin, death, and satan.
And He’s right—we’re in John chapter two.
His hour doesn’t come until chapter twelve when Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:23-24).
When the hour comes for the Son of Man to receive the wrath of God—in our place—as the due penalty for our sin—Jesus steps right up.
But what has this to do with Him—a wedding reception run dry?
The wedding at Cana is not that hour, but the two have this in common.
God—through them both—provides for our joy.
Wine, at a wedding and in general, provides joy.
Scripture is clear about the earthly joy of wine: God causes the grass and plants to grow, “that [man] may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart” (cf. Psalm 104:14-15).
So yes, wine provides joy.
And the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, the hour of our salvation, is the source and cause of our unending joy.
The most terrible event—by all accounts—yields the most terrific fruit: by His stripes we are healed.
Mary, knowing for what purpose Jesus came into the world, asked Jesus to bring about a little joy.
And Jesus, knowing for what purpose He came into the world, replied that the hour for that joy had not yet come.
So Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). These are the perfect words of faith, because Mary trusted that God is always working to bring about our joy—sometimes earthly, sometimes not.
“Do whatever he tells you,” because if, today, we shall receive good from God, let there be wine.
But— “Do whatever he tells you,” also, because if, today, there is no wine, if, today, we’re to receive from God adversity, it’s only so that we may be brought—eventually, kicking and and screaming, but finally—to the eternal joy set aside for us.
So— “Do whatever he tells you.”
And not only does the water become wine, it becomes the best wine. Drink up and rejoice.
“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11).
As often as you can—but especially when confronted with all that is dull and dark in our world—remember the joy of the Lord.
Our Lord, in all that He does, brings joy.
To each wedding. To each family. To each day.
He brings joy.
And I say “eventually” not to sound pessimistic but to emphasize what’s true. Everything God gives He gives with your salvation and joy in mind.
It’s not that it isn’t there—it’s that it’s not what we want.
He may give the painful joy of learning not to rely on things or dreams or people but rather the God who redeems you in Jesus Christ and promises never to leave you nor forsake you.
Remember—Job doesn’t begin to repent until he puts away his plans and the desires of his heart.
We pray “Thy will” not “my will” be done.
And He may give you the hard-earned, years-spent joy of one good friend, two beers, and three hours of good conversation.
You may have joy in the extreme—but rarely.
Compare that with the false-joy immediately had by much wine and no talk.
God may give the joy (and pain) of children, the incomparable joy of raising a family in the Christian faith.
But of course you know, that joy also comes with the cruciform hardship of living in a world that hates Jesus and all those who believe in Him.
Keep the faith—and rejoice that your names are written in the Book of Life.
God daily and richly gives the joy of the forgiveness of sins, which we receive, again and again—always needed and always relevant.
That is the joy and hour for which Jesus was born into the world—to endure the cross and despise its shame.
To take into Himself in our place and on our behalf the wrath of God, the due penalty of our sin.
To take away the sin of the world.
To save it.
That death would be swallowed up in His life and our resurrection—at the end—guaranteed.
Remember, then, to “lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and…run with endurance the race that is set before [you], looking to Jesus, the [author] and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising [its] shame, and is [now] seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (cf. Hebrews 12:1-2).
Remember the joy of the Lord and that all our Lord does and says brings joy—eventually.
That’s not pessimism—I’m just emphasizing what’s true. The Christian life is long-suffering faith—to the end.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Epiphany 2 Sermon, 2021
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt