Peace is the perspective you bring to life: “Lord, Bless this mess.” This message is for those who have found a measure of contentment, a measure of peace.
Jesus goes to the home of great celebration, a wedding. A transformation takes place in this household, a transformation that deepens our understanding of what Jesus Christ offers us when we invite him into our homes and lives… not the all important transformation from sinner to saint in which people repent of their sins and accept the offer of forgiveness from Jesus Christ, but the transformation from good to better… water to wine… for this message, rather than the prayer being “Lord, Come to My Messy House,” more accurately, “come to my house of relative peace, bless us with your presence, and take my life from good to amazing…”
Water, the basic necessity of life, is changed into wine--the symbol not just of life, but of abundant, joyous, and celebrative life. Wine is a symbol of joy, celebration and abundance.
We often think of transformation in terms of something completely different: Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, the caterpillar into a butterfly, or a transformer toy where a car becomes a robot. God does transform people in those ways. He does take the sinner and transform her into a Saint. God does take us when we are broken and make us whole.
But there is another type of transformation that is modeled at a home in Cana. At Cana, the object of transformation is something that is already good and pure and necessary. There is nothing that needs fixing in the water. Water is good. The message of transformation at Cana is not about making the bad good, but about making the good even better. Now that’s the amazing Christ.
A simple example: I say this with humility and amazement. We only have one shot at this life, and so we do the best we can and ask the Lord if he is willing to bless us, doing our best to listen to his voice and follow in obedience. A few years ago, as our family was growing, and I was between jobs, Sally and I made the decision to add an addition to our home. We did not need it, but we thought it would be nice and helpful with our growing family. So we did. We refinanced our mortgage with lower rates, and bumped the repayment back up to a 30 year loan. Our payment stayed the same, so in the short run it was like it cost us nothing. Then a year ago, with the sinking interest rates, we refinanced, and now we pay more or less the same mortgage payment as we have always made, but we went down to a 15 year loan, which is where we would have been if we had never refinanced at all or built the addition. The upshot is that it is as if our new addition is free. That was not the plan, we did not know that would happen, but it is a blessing of the type in keeping with water into wine. We could have lived without the addition, we would have been just fine not going back to the original loan, but here we are and saying thank you.
That’s the miracle of Cana, something good and making it better. The abundance of a blessed life. Jesus said, “I have come to give you life – life is good – life abundantly.” When you invite the Lord into your home the amazing happens. The unexpected. Blessings upon blessings. good upon good…The Lord is not only for the broken but also for those who have a measure of peace… the home where Jesus is invited in this scripture is already celebrating a wedding, already blessed, a place of joy and delight… Call upon the Lord when everything is right! Don’t wait till you drift away from the Lord and then have to start over again, when everything is right…
I am not talking the name it and claim it gospel where there is a formula and if you get your faith just right then the Lord will bless you. I am talking the stuff of grace, we never deserve, but receive God’s blessings.
Although Jesus had performed no miracles to our knowledge, Mary, the Mother of Jesus knows her son. The wine had run out, which would be an embarrassment to the host family. This past week I went to a funeral of the mother of my neighbor, Judy Buiter, and I greeted her at the social hour as the line was dwindling for the food, and Judy said to me, “It’s so hard to know how much food to provide, I’m so glad there is enough, for our family that would be a big thing to run out…” End of the world, no, but for a wedding, a celebration, a milestone, there is something about wanting a perfect day. Mary calls upon her son, not knowing what he would do, yet she calls on him. I remember once when I was small and we went to the home of the Henderson’s on the Everson-Goshen Rd, and two of us played in the car, put the car in reverse and it rolled down the hill through a thin wire fence. Not the end of the world, I know now, but at the time that was so big I had to tell my father what we’d done… beyond me to get out of the mess. Mary calls on her son.
Mary is a wonderful role model for us in this story, asking Jesus to bless us even when we have no idea what he can do about it, but having confidence anyway. John 2:5 is an expression of confidence… The most beautiful prayer yesterday from Doris when she prayed for Don as he lay dying, Myrna and Mark were there, and a wife of 63 years praying for her husband, not wanting the death, but knowing the Lord is good. Blessing upon blessing. As in life, the Lord will bless….the miracle of Cana, water into wine, good into better… the Lord’s presence…
“Do whatever he tells you” Mary says, a simple command of a woman of faith.
And we come to the miracle itself, the transformation, from good to better. John 2:6-10. Some understand the miracle and some don’t. Yet all receive the blessing of the water into wine and all are amazed. Those that don’t know Christ are often amazed and perplexed by the peace and contentment of those who do know Christ. One of my favorite images in scripture is the ark of the covenant before it is housed in the temple. The ark represents the presence of God himself, the tablets of the ten commandments in the ark, a sample of bread from the miraculous daily provision of God in the wilderness experience, the almond rod of Aaron that blossomed –wherever the Ark goes, the Lord goes and the people are blessed, the faithful of God and those who follow other gods, blessed. That’s how I think of Christians, blessing others by taking Christ with them, I want my own home to be a blessing for all who enter, Christian or not, for Christ to bless those who I encounter, blessings upon blessings, the wine of Cana given to all whether they know the source of the wine or not, a blessing from God.
I find it significant this first miracle is not a miracle of necessity, but luxury. I learn from the woman with a bad reputation that pours expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus, Jesus was scolded, for the perfume could be sold and given to the poor, but Jesus says it is a beautiful thing that she has done. The expensive perfume, like the wine, is an extra, not like a healing that saves a man, or restoration of blindness, it’s water into wine.
Lord, come into my house, come into my life, I am already amazed by you, now add to the blessings. To want more of God is acceptable and right because the Lord has more than enough blessing to go around. When I was a child growing up in this church my father was the pastor. One day during an opening of Sunday School, I was a little bit too big to sit on my father’s lap, but still yearning for my childhood, and I saw small children sitting on MY FATHER’S lap, and later I realized I was silly for being jealous and my father had enough love to go around, and it was good.
The Lord Jesus Christ has enough blessings for all, enough wine for all, the best till last, when most hosts served the best first and then brought out the inferior when the guests were a bit tipsy, at this wedding, the best was saved till last. That’s Christ, blessings upon blessings, abundance for those who are already blest, and there is enough for all to go around. That’s the way of God. Be amazed by how much more he can do. Be amazed by his blessings for those who know and love him already. Salvation is enough, but then the Lord adds abundance.
This miracle is called by John “the first of his miraculous signs” (John 2:11). A sign points to a larger truth. When you see a stop sign you put your foot and the break and stop. The sign itself has no power to stop a car, but because of the larger meaning, we obey the sign. The jugs that Jesus filled with water were the water jugs used for ritual purification and washing. The basic symbolism seems to be the duties of the Law transformed into the joy of the Christian life, Jesus filling the law. The Law is life giving, necessary, good, and pure. But Jesus came to transform the Law into something that was joyful. Jesus came to transform the Law through Grace...put God back into it...put love into it...make it more than plain water...make it wine. The Lord wants to bless our lives beyond blessings, not enough to be saved, but to be transformed so that there is joy, abundance beyond what we can imagine, abundant blessings so that the joy of God is felt by others around us…
It is not God’s desire that we live our lives with only a sense of duty and resignation. It is good that we obey the commandments, but there’s more to life with Christ than obedience. “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” Not just life, but abundant life...joyous life...life lived in freedom. This doesn’t mean God promises us material wealth. It doesn’t mean we are promised a life free from pain and suffering. It doesn’t mean you’ll never do another task you don’t enjoy. But, it does mean, that when the water of our lives becomes wine through the touch of Christ, even the worst circumstances have a richness and depth that they never had before.
I read about a woman who felt a strong sense of God’s call upon her life for a particular position. “I’m having a hard time,” she said, “because I want it so much, I can’t tell if it’s really God calling me.” The basic problem was that she had a hard time believing God would call her to something she would enjoy. She was ready for resigned obedience, but not for joy. Listen to Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” God wanted this woman to do more than dutifully drink water to sustain her. God wanted to give her a joy, blessings upon blessings, beyond the dutiful. I first climbed Mt. Baker when I was 12 years old, for years I was proud of myself, but I had to force myself to climb it so I could say I did it, so I could add a notch to my belt. 5-6 years later, I distinctly remember on one particular trip, we were climbing a new way for me on the South side of the mountain, and I remember as the sun coming up, looking around me, and realizing that I was enjoying the climb. What a difference it made, from duty to joy, from pride to delight. Something good to something amazing. Are you ready to take that next step? Water into wine. Good to better.
Christian joy springs from realizing that once we have made the decision to drink of the living water of Christ, water becomes wine as it touches our lips. That we serve a God whose name is not duty but Love. It brings not just life but abundant life.
Invite Christ into your home, when all is well. He will bless you abundantly, he will turn the good water of life into wine, blessings upon blessings, duty into joy, to those who have, more will be given. It’s all grace. It’s all good. It’s pure joy. The miracle of Cana is transformation of your house from good to amazing because of the blessing of Jesus Christ entering your life. Amen.