Epiphany 3, 2017

 

The Epistle. Romans 12:16-21

The Gospel.  St. John 2:1-11

 

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

+

 

If Epiphany is all about hearing the different ways in which Jesus manifested Himself during His ministry on earth, and it is, then today we need not look very hard in order to find this manifestation.

 

In fact if you look at the passage as the verses are numbered you find in John 2:11 these words, “This, the first of his signs, (read: Miracles) Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”[1]

We need look no further, for John lets us know what this manifestation of Jesus was.  He was displaying His glory.

 

So here He is in Cana, a city in Galilee.  Jesus has been invited to a wedding.  They run out of wine.  He instructs the servants at this feast to fill some jars with water.  They do so, and when the take a little out and put it in a cup and give it to the master of the feast….he tastes it… and declares it to be some good quality wine.

 

Only the servants and Jesus’ Disciples (whoever was around when He did this) were witness to this even as being a miracle.  Those out in the dining hall were unaware of anything that was taking place behind the scenes.

 

The master of the feast thought that the good wine had been there somewhere and they were holding off until later on to serve it.

 

 

The master notes that usually what happens is the cheap wine is served and when hearts are merry and pallets are impaired and taste buds dulled. 

 

The good wine is usually served first, when everyone can tell what they are drinking. Once the ability to either notice or care has ceased, then out comes the cheap wine. 

 

No one will really be aware that the quality has dropped and so even if they continue to drink even to excess, and drink the host out of his supply, they will only be drinking the cheap stuff.

 

In this event, Jesus makes wine out of the water and the wine produced is of good quality.  We sort of smile at this point and think about Jesus making this wine….and we do so because we compare what we know about wine making and quality and vintage, etc.,

 

and we assume that Jesus is making some miraculous wine that tastes so good…as if He had concocted some sort of already aged-to-perfection wine.

 

We need to resist going too far with this.

 

D.A. Carson says of this miracle, or sign, “Jesus’ miracles are never simply naked displays of power, still less neat conjuring tricks to impress the masses, but signs, significant displays of power that point beyond themselves to the deeper realities that could be perceived with the eyes of faith.”[2]

 

So Jesus is not making the wine and thinking, “Just wait until they get a taste of this!”  He is not trying to impress or amuse anyone here with some parlor trick.

 

 

Jesus is not trying to show them what a perfect vintage tastes like.

 

As Carson says there, they are “…displays of power that point beyond themselves.”

 

John unfortunately doesn't give us the reaction of the Disciples who witnessed this or anyone else.  the servants.  He just says that they were aware of what Jesus did.

 

So what is the deeper reality Carson is referring to?  That Jesus’ sign…His miracle points to or demonstrates?

 

Again, John tells us…they revealed Jesus’ glory.

John said only in the last chapter that he and the other Disciples had “seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV Jn 1:14)

 

 

Jesus, as we know, will go on to reveal His glory at other times doing many miracles in His time, culminating in the greatest showing of glory when He is on the Cross, when He rises again from the dead and when ascends back into Heaven in the sight of the Disciples.

 

Those three are displays of His glory, but today is the first manifestation of His glory in the miracle of water being turned into wine.

 

Not everyone that day saw His glory, for only a select few were eyewitnesses.

The servants saw the miracle.  Did any of them see His glory?  Did they then place their faith in Him that day?

 

The Disciples saw the miracle…and the last sentence there in today’s passage says, “And His Disciples believed in Him.”

 

So there seems to be a correlation between the two.

This should make us think again maybe about other miracles that Jesus did in the presence of people.

 

We are certain that there were some who saw the miracle and then fell down and worshipped Him.

 

So we might conclude from this that they saw both the sign (or the miracle) and they saw the glory.  Something made them believe in Him as well.

 

And we know that there were others…usually they were religious leaders, who clearly saw the miracle…were present when He raised Lazarus fro the dead, gave sight to the blind…gave hearing to the deaf….and yet this only deepened their hate for Him.

 

So this must mean that a person must have the eyes of faith to see both the miracle and the glory in it…or the glory of the one doing it.

What is the Glory of God?  We hear this and we sort of instinctively …sort of understand, but what is it?  because it shows up so many times in the Bible… in different ways as well.

 

Defining the Glory of God might be better done by hearing some of what we find in Scripture and putting it together to get a picture.

 

God is glorious in Himself.  He is so glorious that He had to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock, cover him and then only let him see a glimpse of Him as He passed by.

 

So the glory of God is so brilliant that we cannot look upon it…or we would simply die.  The Glory of God was obviously cloaked in the person of Jesus because no one had any problem seeing Him.

 

Yet He is still the Glory of God.  He is glorious in Himself and He radiates the same exact glory that God radiates. 

But Jesus just laid it aside or in some mysterious way hid it so He could dwell among us and those who saw Him could live.

 

Psalm 73:23ff

 

 “Nevertheless, I am continually with you;

  you hold my right hand.

 You guide me with your counsel,

  and afterward you will receive me to glory.

 Whom have I in heaven but you?

  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

 

So Heaven itself here is referred to as Glory.  You will receive me to Glory.  You will receive me to Heaven.

 

So God is not only glorious, dwelling in unapproachable light, but He dwells in Glory as well.

 

 

 Isaiah 43:7

 

 ..everyone who is called by my name,

  whom I created for my glory,

  whom I formed and made.” (ESV)

 

So each of us is created to glorify God. 

Maybe if we let that sink in a bit it might just make a difference when we hear all of these commands from our Epistles week after week regarding our behavior.

 

We are not just told by Paul to live uprightly, soberly, loving one another, not quarrelling, not talking or joking in a filthy manner…not disobedient to parents…not drunk with much wine…not sexually immoral or covetous.

 

Why not? Not because we aren't supposed to have a good time. 

Not because God want us to be bored and sit around and never have fun, which is the way, all of that is either described or understood.

It is because we have a job to do as well.  We are to live in such a way that we glorify God.

 

Our actions not only tell others who we are and what we believe, but they also are to display the glory of God.

 

It makes the life we are to live all that much more important. 

And this is not trying to get points with God.

It is not trying to impress God …or man.

It is because we are created in the image of God and we are therefore to reflect that image by glorifying Him in all we do and say.

 

So that is out there not to despair by, but to dwell upon.  Thanks be to God we have the glory of Christ that covers our “unglorious” state so much of the time.

 

 

 

 

Our opening prayer called the Collect for Purity reminds us each time we open our Liturgy, that we desire that God “Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love Him, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord.”

 

That's the same thing.  Magnify, love, glorify.  They are all in the same category as things we are to show forth in our lives as we live to glorify God.

 

What is the goal of our General Confession?  Well the last line of that also tells us what glorifying God is.

 

We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty…

Have mercy upon us…

Forgive us all that is past…

Grant that we may from this time forward, serve and please thee O God…

To the honor and GLORY if Thy name…through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

We confess and bewail our sins and amend our lives so that we may bring Glory to God.

 

We might also bring in the rest of creation.

Psalm 19:1

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God,

  and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (ESV)

 

The General Revelation around us speaks of the Glory of God as well. All of creation displays the Glory of God. 

It has to be seen, of course through the eyes of faith for it to be noticed and known.

 

 

 

So the Glory of God might be defined as the beauty of God…the excellence of God…the perfection of God…the purity of God…the magnificence of God…the infinite nature of God…the love of God…the power of God…the wisdom of God.

 

Each of these applies and yet they might apply at both the same time …and at different times depending on the situation or what we are trying to describe about God.  Different attributes of His Glory might be displayed at different times.

 

God’s glory can then be said to be maybe,
… “the perfect harmony of all his attributes into one infinitely beautiful and personal being.”[3] 

 

And since all Glory resides in God and comes from God, He also reminds us that He is very jealous of His own glory.  He uses those very words. 

 

He says,

Isaiah 42:8

 

 “I am the LORD; that is my name;

  my glory I give to no other,

  nor my praise to carved idols.” (ESV)

 

In our 10 Commandments, we recite once a month according to the Prayer Book’s direction.  When we get to the 2nd Commandment, we don't hear the entire verse.  Here is it in its entirety.

 

Exodus 20:4-6

 

“You shall not make for yourself any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (ESV)

 

So as Christ turns water to wine this day, we should reflect on just what was happening there.  He was performing a miracle, yes, but He was in that miracle displaying His Glory.

 

We come along with the eyes of faith, but not seeing the miracle.  Yet Jesus reminds us as Thomas, in that locked room, finally comes to faith and believes, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

That is where we are.  Jesus turned water to wine that day and displayed His Glory.  And we are blessed and accepted by God in seeing His Glory by faith.

 

+

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



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 2:11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 175). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

[3] http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/god-created-us-for-his-glory