Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on the Second Sunday of Epiphany, 1/16/2022. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 11:00am, but technical difficulties prevented the publishing of a useful recording. The bulletin is available as a PDF: Epiphany2 Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for the Second Sunday of Epiphany, click here.
I thought that I had made a mistake. Maybe I didn’t put in enough grounds. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention when I poured the water. Whatever it was, my coffee tasted like it was made at most any church in 1987. Which is to say that it didn’t taste like coffee. Because it didn’t really taste like anything.
But the truth was that my measurements were accurate. There were plenty of grounds, and just enough water. The coffee was fine. I just couldn’t taste it.
Like most everyone else, I had gotten COVID. And that loss of taste and smell is one of the symptoms.
Of course, it can be much worse for some. And I pray that this illustration is not heard in a way that minimizes the seriousness of that. But I would not be honest if I didn’t say that this particular symptom was depressing.
To not taste my morning coffee, to not smell the Christmas cookies that were coming out of the oven, that was worse than the other symptoms. Not smelling dirty diapers was okay.
But as I tried not to imagine what it would be like if my taste never came back, I wondered, unhelpfully, what it would be like if all of life were this way.
To look at a field of tulips and see only grey. To eat Eritrean food and have it taste like just boiled oats. To sing a melody but never in harmony. To not sense the difference between rough and smooth, hot and cold, sweet and sour.
Unsatisfying is a word that comes to mind. Along with…
That depressing description of a life gone numb could be used describe the wedding at Cana.
There’s water to wash your hands, but it can’t really make you clean. There’s a bride and a groom, but they’re about to be embarrassed. There’s wine, but it might as well be church coffee from 1987, because it’s disappointing, unsatisfying, and running out.
It’s running out because the guests are misusing it. Wine is a good gift from God, meant to make glad the heart. But their abuse of the gift is making their hearts numb, along with their tastebuds.
This is one of the effects of the fall into sin. That we lose our senses.
Everything He would have us see and know…
We don’t and we won’t.
We’ll recognize the goodness of these gifts sometimes, but without our eyes fully opened, we are like those unsatisfied wedding guests. And being unsatisfied, we are prone to misuse and abuse the good things God gives.
Marriage and children, food and wine, talent and money. And if we chase more, drink more, and have more, then we will be satisfied.
Therefore, Jesus turns the water into wine. Yes, it is a sign to point to Him as the Messiah. That’s why the pinnacle of this whole event is the last verse:
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. verse 11
But this, the first of his signs, also demonstrates something of what the Messiah will do. He will give us the one thing needful to satisfy us; to quench our thirst and our yearning hearts. He will restore our sight and our taste, our hearing and feeling. He will bring us to our senses.
Not everyone is happy about this miracle. The Steward of the feast thinks it’s just plain stupid.
Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now. verse 10
We might have gotten the idea over the years that he’s impressed with the bridegroom. And he’s praising him for being clever or creative. But what he’s really saying is that the bridegroom is wasteful and unwise.
The people are drunk. They can’t even taste the wine anymore. This is wasted on them. It is as if he said,
Everyone serves the best wine first, and when the people are drunk, then you give them swill. Because at that point they can’t taste the difference between the good stuff and church coffee from 1987. But you’re wasteful and a fool. The people don’t deserve wine this good. They certainly can’t appreciate it, and it is squandered on them.
This sign manifested Christ’s glory because it was a picture of His whole ministry, and a revelation of who He is as our Messiah.
By giving good wine to those who didn’t deserve it and couldn’t appreciate it. By dying for the sins of the whole world, even though most people will never care. By forgiving the sins of the world, even though most in the world will take them back. By giving eternal life and a place in His kingdom, even though most would rather not be bothered, He manifested His glory.
Christ’s glory is in His suffering and death on behalf of sinners. And though most everyone at the wedding party won’t care; and though the satanic steward calls him a fool, His disciples believed in Him.
And because they have been epiphanied, because they have seen Him, they can see everything else.
They don’t just know the difference between good wine and poor wine. Their senses are redeemed. With open eyes they can call a thing what it is. They know the difference between truth and falsehood; good and evil, beauty and appeal, joy and happiness.
You are His disciples, too. Your eyes are opened to see the wonders God has worked for you in Christ. You have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. You have been brought to your senses.
You can see through the dross. You can recognize what is wrong and hurtful. But even more so, the beauty of this world is revealed to you. Every flavor and texture and shade of splendor is yours, if you would only have it.
Jesus has come and brings pleasure eternal.