Preached at St. John's Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL on 17 January 2010.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
You will never run out of Jesus. That’s the bottom line of today’s Gospel. You will never run out of Jesus. But how do we get to that point?
It’s the third day. Now, some say John is using the days of Creation as a backdrop and outline to describe the true events of Jesus’ ministry. The third day of creation is when God divided up the waters, and land appeared. Here, the Lord divides up the waters, and wine appears.
Perhaps even more importantly, what do you normally think of when you hear the phrase, “the third day?” “On the third day He rose again from the dead,” we confess in the Creed. The third day there was Sunday – Easter Sunday, in particular, but Sunday. No, the day of Christ’s sign at the wedding at Cana may not have been a Sunday, but He does want those sorts of echoes and images in our minds as we hear Christ at work.
You will never run out of Jesus. The bride and groom had run out of wine. The Virgin Mary tells Jesus. But He has an unusual reply, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." Does He say He can’t help, or won’t help? No. But His help will not involve the Messiah-King ideas that even the Blessed Virgin might have had. His help will be in showing His mercy, bolstering faith, that others may see the glory of God and come to faith in their Savior. “My hour has not yet come.”
Jesus’ hour – the time when He would purchase and win salvation – was still a few years away. But then, “His hour” continues. “His hour” comes with each and every baptism, as He forgives, rescues, and brings eternal salvation to us. “His hour” comes as we hear the releasing words of Holy Absolution. “His hour” continues as we gather at His Altar, feasting on the Body and Blood given and shed at the cross. “His hour” will be complete when He comes again to usher our redeemed and resurrected flesh into His eternal paradise. And while His hour comes through each of these Holy Gifts, due to the miraculous sign, we focus today on the Gift of the Eucharist.
Dear friends in Christ, what an amazing joy when His hour comes that delivers the forgiveness and life He won, once and for all, on Calvary! What a tremendous Gift that even as the wedding guests received wine from heaven, when the earthly supply failed them, so also we receive the Blood of Jesus, spilled from His wounds at the cross, shed for you. Water became wine, at Christ’s bidding. Now wine becomes not only wine, but also the precious Blood of God the Son!
But wait. You do not always want His hour to come. You can’t stop the initial fulfillment at the cross, but you don’t want His hour to come after you have had a late Saturday night with a few friends and some beverages. You don’t want His hour to come when it interferes with the park district’s sports schedule, or dance lessons, or other extra-curricular activities.
The hour initiated at the cross intersects with your life right now! Praise the Lord – you are experiencing His hour at this very moment!
Last week we heard the Father in heaven proclaim: “Listen to Him!” Today we hear the Virgin Mary tell the servants at the wedding, “Do whatever He tells you!” And now, as His hour continues to come, the Church continues to tell you: “Do whatever He tells you.” Hear His Word, and keep it. Mary heard His Word and kept it. The servants heard His Word and kept it. Now you hear His Word and keep it.
You can’t do that on your own. You can’t even do that cooperating with God. But the Holy Spirit opens your ears and your hearts to hear His Word and keep it.
Yet you do not always do whatever He tells you. What about all those times His Word goes in one ear and out the other? How often do you hear His Word taught and proclaimed, and say, “Yes. That was a nice interpretation,” as if the pastor or even parochial teacher or principal had a nice opinion, but that is different from what the Word of God says. If the pastor is faithful, he is not preaching opinion, he is proclaiming Jesus and His Word! “Do whatever He tells you,” still applies. We are to hear the Word of God and keep it! Failing to do so is a rebellious sin.
Each week you gather and hear our dear Lord Jesus speak His Word to you. Each week His Word of Law convicts you of your sin, telling you that you deserve only punishment. And each week His Word of Gospel tells you that He releases you from that sin, and has saved you, and is delivering that forgiveness and life to you right now!
That Gospel does not merely talk about Christ. That Gospel brings Christ to you. God uses those words to place Christ into you. And that Gospel keeps coming to you.
And what does that mean? You will never run out of Jesus!
When the Lord spreads His table before you, and forgives your sins as He places Jesus in you – when you feast on the Lamb of God at His wedding banquet, He assures you today: you will never run out of Jesus!
Through His Holy Gifts of Baptism, Absolution, Gospel and His Holy Supper, Jesus Christ is given to us again and again. At those moments, He speaks His Word and tells His servants to fill you with His Sacraments. He delivers only the best, and we rejoice at His eternal wedding celebration, of which we have a little taste here and now. And week after week, you can rejoice and be glad, for you will never run out of Jesus!
Rejoice and be glad, as we continue this wedding feast of the Lamb of God and the Bride of Christ, His Church. Now, the feast does not end after seven days, and on the third day, no one will lament, “They have no wine.” No. Be of good cheer, there is plenty of wine. There is plenty of Jesus to go around. You will never run out of Jesus!