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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
Title:Transforming Power
Text:John 2:1-11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Transforming Power

John 2:1-11

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, for married couples, our wedding day is one of the most joy-filled and memorable events in our entire lives. Yes, there can also be a lot of drama and nervousness as well, and sometimes looking back it’s hard to remember everything, but overall, our wedding day is a day we will never forget.


As a pastor, when I officiate at a wedding, I feel especially blessed and privileged just to be able to participate in that wonderful occasion. Weddings are a time for fun and feasting and celebration. But we must also remember that weddings are a very solemn occasion.


Not solemn in a sad way, but solemn in a sobering and serious-minded way. In fact, the form we read during the wedding ceremony (the form that explains the institution and meaning of marriage) is entitled the ‘Solemnization of Marriage.’


The opening words of that form remind us that the holy bond of marriage was instituted by God at the very beginning of history. And the purpose of a wedding ceremony is to join the two into one flesh. To do that, we call upon God as our witness as we exchange our vows. We make life-long promises, a covenant is struck between bride and groom that only death may rend asunder.


The form that we read for the marriage ceremony also tells us that Our Lord Jesus honored marriage by His blessed presence at the wedding in Cana.  It reminds us of what the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5, that the union of the husband and wife is a symbol of the mystic union of Christ and His church.


These Biblical truths underscore the fact that every wedding and every marriage is a solemn occasion. We realize that it’s not just about us. Rather, it’s layered in divine symbolism and significance. The same holds true for the passage we read today from John 2. Here John reveals the very first miraculous sign that Jesus performed.


As we’re about to see, while the miracle itself was amazing, it is the symbolism surrounding the sign that is equally important and meaningful. Here, Jesus Reveals His Glory as He Transforms Water into Wine.

1. Christ’s Glory Revealed in His Blessed Presence  

2. Christ’s Glory revealed in His Transforming Power


1. Christ’s Glory Revealed in His Blessed Presence  

In verse 1, John writes: On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. The reference to the third day is calculated from the time Jesus called Phillip and Nathaniel to follow him. Before that, Jesus called Andrew and Simon Peter.


This signals to us that the public ministry of Jesus has begun. But now, on the 7th day after Jesus began his earthly ministry, he is at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. But why is that? Yes, he was invited. But if we were his handlers, if we were his schedule keepers, would we think that this is the best place for Jesus to be? The best use of his time? 


Remember, Jesus was about 30 years old at the time and he had only 3 years to complete his earthly mission. Maybe we wonder: why is Jesus our Savior wasting his time at wedding? Keep in mind, weddings in those days were not an afternoon affair. They were a week-long ordeal. There were seven days of feasting and celebration.


So why is Jesus there? Among other things, the presence of Jesus at this wedding was meant to signify to everyone, to the Jews, to the chief priests, to the teachers of the law, to the disciples and followers of John the Baptist that in the coming of Christ, a new age, a new era has dawned!


In the coming of Christ the Messiah, the Bridegroom had arrived. The Bridegroom has come for His Bride and this was reason to celebrate. The long awaited, much anticipated, Messianic Age has finally dawned, and as we’ll see in a few moments, this was to be an age of great wine, of new wine, of great joy and celebration.


(And symbolically, if there is any significance to this being the 7th day of Christ’s earthly ministry, we could speculate that in the Creation Week, the 7th day was the day of rest. So Christ’s presence at this wedding could be a foretaste of our eternal rest, and the wedding feast of the Lamb in Revelation 19. All those who believe in Jesus Christ are invited to this glorious, eternal, never ending victory celebration of the Lamb and His Bride, the church of Jesus Christ).    


Now, I want to contrast this to the ministry of Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist. John was a Nazirite. He was not allowed to drink wine or any other fermented drink. And recall what Jesus said about John the Baptist in Luke 7:33, that John came neither eating bread nor drinking wine.


John the Baptist was the last and the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. He represented the Old Covenant, the shadows, the promises, as well as the want and the wilderness – all of which was communicated by his very appearance and even his diet.


Matthew 3: 4ff tell us that  John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. John came preaching a gospel of repentance and his baptism was a baptism unto repentance. And John preached, after me will come one who is more powerful than I, who sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire!


You see, when Jesus finally appeared on the scene, we’re to see, we’re to understand the newness that he brings. The old has gone, the new has come! In Matthew 11:11 Jesus said: Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he! 


What did Jesus mean? It meant that the prophets and people of the OT longed to see the things that you and I have seen and know, but they didn’t see them. They longed to receive what we have received, but they did not receive them.


As for John, he lived to see the day of Jesus’s birth and early life, but he died before Christ’s glory was fully revealed, before Jesus died and rose again. John died before the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost. And, if you recall, while he was in prison, it was John who sent his own disciples to inquire if Jesus really was the Christ, if he really was the Messiah.


John lived and died in the Old Covenant shadows, waiting and hoping, and his ministry was one of weeping and mourning and fasting and want! But now that Christ has come, he ushers in the Newness and the Fulness and Life and Joy of the New Covenant.


That is what is symbolized by Christ’s blessed presence at this wedding! It was evident during his entire earthly ministry! Christ has come eating and drinking at a wedding feasts, eating and drinking with his disciples; and eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners.


The Pharisees saw this and they accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard. John’s disciples saw this and they came to him and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.  In John 10:10 Jesus said I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full! 


Christ’s presence at the wedding was about so much more than the miracle he performed. It was also about Christ’s purpose and goal: Jesus came to restore life, to restore joy, to restore happiness, to restore peace within the hearts and lives of God’s people – a life, and a joy and a happiness that begins here on earth by faith in Christ, and it lasts forever with God in glory.


I find it ironic that people who aren’t Christians like to characterize the Christian life as a joyless existence; as a life of pain instead of pleasure; of grief and guilt instead of joy and happiness, of obeying rules and commands instead of living freely. I say that’s ironic, because the truth is exactly the opposite. It’s just that people are so blinded by sin that they cannot see this truth.  


People fail to see that life with Christ, life in Christ, is the only way to true life. Life in Christ is the pathway to true blessedness, a deeper joy and happiness and satisfaction and fulfillment than could ever be found in a life lived on earth without Christ.


In fact, the truth is, for anyone who does not know Jesus as Savior, it is they who must live without true joy; it is they who (although they have temporary pleasure) experience the pain and burden of their brokenness with no one to help, no comfort, no hope.


They carry a relentless burden of grief and guilt and sorrow that follows them to the grave, and they die in darkness and hopelessness. It was because of this that Christ came – it was because of this that Christ suffered and died on the cross, to save helpless hopeless sinners like you and me, and to resore light and life and joy. So we’re called once again to come to Christ and put our faith and hope and trust in Him.


2. Christ’s Glory revealed in His Transforming Power

So that is Christ’s Glory Revealed in His Blessed Presence. Secondly, we consider Christ’s Glory revealed in His Transforming Power. We discover that as the wedding festivities carry on into the week, Mary, the mother of Jesus, realizes that the wine has run out. And this is a significant enough crisis that Mary comes to Jesus and asks him to help, to intervene on behalf of the host.


There are several things worthy of noting. First, this was indeed a crisis. According to the cultural norms of the day, the bridegroom and his family were responsible for this celebration. And, if the father of the groom failed to provide adequate hospitality, the wife’s family had legal grounds to file a complaint against the groom. In addition to the embarrassment and reputation of being a bad host, this was a very awkward and potential shameful situation.


Second, Mary’s involvement makes us think that perhaps the host was a family friend or maybe a relative of Mary. She seems quite engaged and alarmed (just as our ladies’ auxiliary would be if they saw that we’re running out of meat in the middle of a wedding reception. Or as our Summit committee experienced last August as we ran out of ribs during the Thursday night banquet -- and there was another 90 hungry young people returning from Banff on busses who hadn’t eaten yet).


So we can understand Mary’s concern. A third observation: Mary comes to Jesus expecting that he will help. But how? Did she expect Jesus to leave the party and go buy more wine? That’s highly doubtful. It’s more plausible to conclude that Mary believes, that she has faith in her son Jesus, that he has the miraculous power as the Son of God to do whatever needs to be done to save the day, to salvage the wedding feast and spare the host the dishonor and shame!


Now, on to the miracle itself. At first Jesus pushes back a bit, asking her “Why do you involve me? My time, my hour has not yet come.” There are several ways this can be understood. At times in his ministry Jesus was very careful about choosing when and where and even to whom he would reveal and disclose his identity. At times, after healing someone, he would command them to tell no one.


That could be the case here. Jesus knows his own timeline, he knows that everything in his earthly ministry is leading up to the hour of his ultimate glorification – his death on the cross when he makes atonement for our sins and then rises on the third day. That day, that hour cannot be rushed.


For us, living in the year 2023, we have to remember that this same truth applies to the Lord’s return. Christ’s timing is perfect. There will be a day, there will be an hour, when our Lord will return, and that will be the hour when he reveals the fullness of his glory and power and majesty!! What a day that will be!! Until then, we wait patiently, trusting in His perfect timing.  


Here in John 2, Jesus agrees to help resolve this crisis. He proceeds to perform his first miracle. He commands the servants to take the six stone jars that were used for ceremonial washing and fill them with water -- each held 20-30 gallons each.


Here, too, notice the symbolism at work. Those 6 stone water jars represent the Old Covenant laws and customs -- the ceremonial cleanness that was required under the law of Moses. So here, Jesus is going to take that water, that law, and he’s going to transform it. He’s going to replace it with something infinitely better and greater.


We can also draw a parallel between the water used for ritual cleanliness, water that cannot truly clean because we just get dirty and dusty again, and the wine that Jesus makes from that water – the wine represents His own blood poured out on the cross in super-abundance, in infinite sufficiency, which brings true cleanliness, which washes away all our sins and the filth and impurities of our soul. It’s a once-for-all cleansing that never has to be repeated! What beautiful and powerful symbolism is at work here! 


 The servants do as Jesus said. And without any fanfare or dramatic words, Jesus performed the miracle. By the power of His divine will, Jesus turned, he transformed water into wine. To prove his power, he told the servants to draw some out, and take some to the master of the feast. 


The moment the master of the banquet sips the wine, he called to the bridegroom privately, not knowing what Jesus had done. He complimented the bridegroom on this superior wine. He remarked that this was highly unusual – for the normal custom was to serve the best wine first, and then later, once people have drunk their share and have dulled their sense of taste, then they bring out the inexpensive stuff, the wine of cheaper quality.


But it appeared then that this bridegroom did just the opposite -- he saved the best for last. Notice, Jesus didn’t just spare the bridegroom from potential shame and embarrassment. No. Jesus actually brought him honor and praise!


And in so doing, Jesus revealed his glory. He revealed who He is as God’s own Son and what He has come to do. Jesus signaled that the new era had dawned – the Messianic Age had come! The prophesies pointing to this time were now being fulfilled – and they will be realized in their fulness in the new heavens and new earth. Prophesies like:     


Isaiah 25: 6 “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.”


Jeremiah 31:12 “They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord, the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds”


Amos 9:13-14 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills…”



To conclude, I want to say a few words about what Christ’s transforming power means to us. Christ transformed water into wine, and that miracle displayed his glory. Today, I want us to see ourselves in something of the same light – for beloved, are we not also the objects of Christ’s transforming power.


Are we not the result of the miracle of God’s amazing grace? Did not God take us from death to life, from those who were dead in our trespasses and sins and make us alive again, in Christ? Did not God transform us from sinners to saints, from rebels to sons and daughters?


If you are saved, then the answer to that question is a resounding yes! So then, the question and challenge I have for you is this: does your life today reveal and reflect the glory of Christ in you? And really my question should be: how does your life reveal His glory?


Christ performed a miracle in your heart and soul, and the result, the fruit of that miracle should make the same impression and impact that we witnessed in this passage when the master of the banquet tasted the wine which Jesus made.


There should be a miraculous change, a supernatural transformation of life that bears all the markings, that bears the irrefutable evidence that Christ has changed us, that Christ’s power is not at work with in us. And the proof is in the tasting.


What does your life taste like to others? What do your words and actions and lifestyle taste like to your neighbors, friends, family and co-workers? Everything about us, from the inside out, should bear the unmistakable taste of the vintage of Christ, the vintage of holiness and righteousness and purity.


That is the way we reveal Christ’s glory, beloved. His glory ought to be revealed in us each day, in all that we do. So let us remember that; let us pray for that and ask God to enable us to pursue that each day. And wherever you are lacking, pray that God would give you a spirit of repentance so that you might die to your old self, and be transformed more and more by the power of God’s grace. Amen     

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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