January 20 – Second Sunday after Epiphany
The LORD’S Time
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our text is from the Gospel reading. This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. Here ends our text.
It had been a long time since God had manifested himself. It had been a long time since God had revealed himself to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It had been over 400 years since the children of Israel had heard a word from God. 400 years without any mention of his covenant to bring them to his Promised land. They didn’t even know the name of this obscure and apparently silent God of their fathers. Where was he? Now they were in bondage and slavery in another land. The Egyptians had treated them ruthlessly and placed taskmasters over them. In fear of their numbers, the tyrant Pharaoh had ordered their newborn sons to be cast into the Nile river. The waters of the Nile were mixed with the blood of their sons. The Israelites cried out, “Where are you God? Why don’t you reveal yourself and save us? Manifest yourself and show your glory. Answer our prayer.” Hope came when a Hebrew baby boy was spared and taken into the house of Pharaoh. His name was Moses. Forty years passed as Moses grew in position and influence among the Egyptians. But he became a murderer and fled in exile. God’s time had not yet come. They’d have to wait.
But forty years later, God sent his servant Moses back to his people, and his brother Aaron joined him. God’s time had finally come. Aaron told the people all the words that God had spoken to Moses. He even told them the name of their God: Yahweh, I Am. Out of reverence they called him the LORD. When they heard that the LORD was visiting his people and had seen their affliction, they believed. They bowed their heads in worship. Finally the LORD was revealing himself and his deliverance. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “The LORD says, ‘Let my people go.’” But Pharaoh hardened his heart and increased their burdens. So the next day the LORD sent his servants Moses and Aaron to meet Pharaoh along the banks of the Nile. Aaron said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘By this you shall know that I Am the LORD.’” In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile. All the water of the Nile was turned into blood. The fish died, and the Nile stank. The water of the Nile was undrinkable because it was blood. This was the first plague against the Egyptians. It served as a curse and judgment against them for defiling the waters of the Nile with the blood of the sons of the Israelites. But it was more than that. It was the first sign, the first miracle of the LORD in delivering his people. The LORD was revealing himself to his people. He was manifesting himself and showing his glory. And his people believed in him.
It had been a long time since God had manifested himself. It had been over 400 years since the children of Israel had heard a word from God. 400 years since the last prophet Malachi had mentioned God’s covenant to send a Messiah. Where was the LORD anyway? Now they were ruled by another nation. Roman soldiers and their tax collectors harassed them. The Israelites cried out, “Where are you God? Why don’t you reveal yourself and save us? Manifest yourself and show your glory. Answer our prayer.” Hope came when a Hebrew baby boy was spared from the fear of the tyrant King Herod who killed all the other baby boys of Bethlehem. Angels sang at his birth. Shepherds and wise men from the East worshipped him. His name was Jesus. But he had to flee from that murderer Herod to exile in Egypt. God’s time had not yet come. They’d have to wait. But God brought his servant Jesus back to his people. Thirty years passed as Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. God’s time had finally come.
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples and his mother Mary were invited to attend. Sometimes a Jewish wedding lasted for up to a week at the bridegroom’s home as the guests feasted and celebrated. But on this occasion the wine ran out. Mary came to Jesus and said, “They have no wine.” Now Mary had treasured up many things in her heart: the angel Gabriel’s annunciation, the whole virgin birth miracle, the visit of the shepherds and wise men, the astonishing episode of Jesus in the temple when he was twelve. She knew who Jesus was. He was the LORD. But maybe the LORD needed a little push from his mother. “Jesus, you’re thirty years old. When are you going to reveal yourself?” “Jesus!” with a jerk of her head, “They have no wine! Get over there and do something. Manifest yourself.”
But Jesus said to her, “Woman,” not “dear Mother,” but “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My time has not yet come.” Now Jesus loved his mother. She was first on his mind even as he suffered on the cross. He made arrangements for her welfare after he departed. There he said to her, “Woman, behold your son!” and to John, “Behold your mother!” Jesus honored his mother. And we honor her as the Mother of God. But his mother would not dictate when his time had come. She was not the impetus behind his ministry, prodding him along or leading him by the ear. And so Jesus disregards her maternal relationship. He would manifest himself in his own time and in his own way. After his gentle rebuke, Mary now understands her position. She acts no longer as mother but as disciple. She believes in her LORD and so she backs away and tells the servants, “Just do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars standing there that each held about twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. “Now,” Jesus said, “draw some out and take it to the master of the feast,” and they did. After the master tasted it, he called over the bridegroom and said, “Usually everyone serves the good wine first, and then when the guests are a little buzzed, they serve the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus had changed water, not into blood that was undrinkable, but into wine that was very drinkable, that was very good. This was the first miracle that Jesus did. It served not as a curse and judgment but as a blessing and gift to this young couple that had invited Jesus to their wedding. It spared them shame and embarrassment. It allowed the celebration to continue. But it was more than that. It was the first sign, the first miracle of the LORD in delivering his people. The LORD was revealing himself to his people. He was manifesting himself and showing his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
It seems like it’s been a long time since God manifested himself. It’s been nearly 2000 years since we’ve heard a word from God. 2000 years since his last prophet or apostle spoke a word of revelation. 2000 years since Jesus promised to return. Where is the LORD anyway? We’re strangers in a land not our own, a land ruled by sin, death, and the devil. We’re harassed by temptation, oppressed by immorality. Out of fear of too many numbers or fear of responsibility, our babies are slain at abortion clinics. Their blood is mixed with the trash. We’ve run out, not of wine, but of bread. We have no more income, savings, or means of support. The celebration is over. We cry out, “Where are you God? Why don’t you reveal yourself and save us? Manifest yourself and show your glory. Answer our prayer.” We pray to Jesus, “I have no more strength. I have no more friends. I have no more help. I have no more hope. Jesus! When are you going to reveal yourself? Do something! Manifest yourself!”
But we’re not the LORD’S Mother telling him what to do. Our time is not always his time. He says to us, not “dear mother” or “Father in heaven thy will be done,” but “child, my time has not yet come.” The LORD hears all our prayers, but he answers in his own time and in his own way. Sometimes we have to wait for his deliverance. It may be years or even a generation like for the Israelites, or it may be for only a few moments like for Mary and that wedding couple in Cana. But rest assured that the LORD will deliver you. He’ll reveal himself and show his glory. Not only to help you out of your predicament, but more than that. That by his sign of deliverance, the Holy Spirit will strengthen your faith in him. By patiently waiting for him to act, you’ll understand your position. You won’t act as his mother or father, ordering him about, but as his child, his disciple. You can back away and say, “LORD, do whatever you desire. I believe in you.”
And today the LORD is still manifesting himself and revealing himself in his own way. He’s still doing signs and miracles with water and wine and blood for our deliverance. Through water and his revealed Word, he’s rescuing our babies from the tyrant the devil in holy baptism. The old man is drowned, but the new man arises to new life. And in his supper, through wine and his revealed Word, he makes his blood drinkable for the forgiveness of our sins. The LORD is revealing himself and manifesting his glory through his written and preached Word and through his sacraments. His servants, his pastors, just do whatever he tells them, and you, his disciples, believe in him. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.