Second Sunday after Epiphany, January 17

Friends, I have a confession to make! I wrote something in last Sunday’s devotional that was not true. There was one sentence that said Jesus was tempted by the Devil and then he was baptised by John. That is exactly backwards for many reasons! (One of our sharp subscribers graciously and kindly asked if what I wrote was true.) I was working between John’s gospel, which says nothing of Jesus’ temptation, and Luke’s gospel which, like the other synoptics all record the temptation of Jesus. I’m not sure where my brain was when I typed that. Even missed it in the proof reading! I actually know the right order. Anyway, I will try to be more diligent in proofing things.

Reader: “This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee” 

Response: “was the first time Jesus revealed his glory.”

Scripture: John 2:1-12

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”  [This is all TRUE!]

“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:

As we have mentioned previously, Epiphany is associated with the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the wedding at Cana of Galilee. John is the only gospel writer who records this latter event. Sometimes the other writers refered to supernatural acts that Jesus did as miracles, but not John. He describes them as “signs.” When Jesus did something like turning the water to wine, it was to act as a sign pointing to his identity as the Son of man. 

In John’s gospel, he describes seven (perfection in Jewish thought) signs: changing water to wine, curing the nobleman’s son, healing the paralytic, feeding the five thousand, walking on water, opening the eyes of a blind man, and raising Lazarus from the dead. Every single act pointed beyond the immediate event but to the truth that the Kingdom of God had come among them in the person of Jesus Christ. That this event was a Jewish wedding is of great significance. With this sign, Jesus was going public. 

John mentions that this event occurred on “the third day.” Is there significance stating that? Perhaps. Some scholars have reasoned that Jesus was ushering in a new creation, similar in concept to his resurrection on the third day. Many Jewish weddings occur on Tuesday, the third day of the week because on the third day of creation, God said, “It is good” two times and the brides took that expression as a double blessing on their marriage! 

We look next at Jesus’ interaction with his mother. Mary is referred to in this gospel only as the “mother of Jesus.” What may seem to us as a rather harsh response in our day in referring to her as “woman,” was not exactly so in Jesus’ day. It was an address of respect and distinction. Mary appears in only one other story in John’s gospel and it is at the foot of the cross. It is there while hanging on the cross that Jesus again addresses his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.” Likewise, following his resurrection, Jesus speaks to Mary Magdalene with the words, “Dear woman, why are you crying?” 

What is established in this pericope is that the relationship between Jesus and his mother is now different. Jesus responds to his heavenly Father, not his earthly mother. When he says at the wedding, “My time is not yet come,” that is a clear indication that he is not operating on an “earthly clock.” Time and timing are a recurrent theme throughout John’s gospel. Jesus was tuned to his Father’s will which meant he was always in exactly the right place at the right time doing the right thing bringing glory to God. God’s action in our world is made manifest in the flesh of Jesus Christ!  

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Music: “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise    (You’ll note this hymn has all three Epiphany themes!)

Songs of thankfulness and praise,

Jesus, Lord, to thee we raise,

Manifested by the star

To the sages from afar;

Branch of royal David’s stem

In thy birth at Bethlehem;

Praises be to thee addressed,

God in flesh made manifest.

Manifest at Jordan’s stream,

Prophet, Priest, and King supreme;

And at Cana, wedding guest,

In thy Godhead manifest;

Manifest in pow’r divine,

Changing water into wine;

Praises be to thee addressed,

God in flesh made manifest.

Grant us grace to see thee, Lord.

Mirrored in thy holy Word;

May we imitate thee now,

And be pure, as pure art thou;

That we like to thee may be

At thy great Epiphany;

And may praise thee, ever-blessed,

God in flesh made manifest.

Prayer:O God, you made of one blood all nations, and, by a star in the East, revealed to all peoples him whose name is Emmanuel. Enable us who know your presence with us so to proclaim his unsearchable riches, that all may come to his light and bow before the brightness of his rising, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.    ―Lawrence Hull Stookey  from The United Methodist Publising House