The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017. John 2:1-11.
Jesus Turns Water into Wine

 The Marriage at Cana by Paolo Veronese
was commissioned and hung in a dining hall belonging
to Benedictine monks, 1563. No one noticed the irony.

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #39                     Praise to the Lord                   
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Hymn # 370             My Hope Is Built             

Water into Wine - The Transforming Word

The Hymn #128                Brightest and Best               
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #309          O Jesus, Blessed Lord             

KJV Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on ourministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Letlove be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thy grace Thou hast instituted holy matrimony, in which Thou keepest us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech Thee to send Thy blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Thy gracious help in all temptations, and rear their children in accordance with Thy will; grant unto us all to walk before Thee, in purity and holiness, to put all our trust in Thee, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



The Transforming Word

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 

This text has many lessons. Although the language is simple, the lessons are powerful and necessary. The Scriptures anticipate problems and errors far into the future. St. John is especially a doctrinal Gospel, long on teaching because the work assumes our knowledge of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

This was the first miracle which Jesus performed in public, and it was done in such a way that no one could dispute it or claim some trick was used to fool people. When I had a darkroom, I could could mix two, clear liquids together. Both of them looked like water. When mixed, the solution turned purple - like wine - but what a smell. No one would drink that.  Likewise, cleverly disguised dry dye powders would have that effect, but no one would call the mixture wine.

This miracle explains for history why Jesus had such a large and growing following. His divine power was witnessed and experienced in many forms, and He taught with divine authority - not like the Scribes and Pharisees.

I saw an example of Scribes and Pharisee-style teaching the other day. A group was disputing some issue on SpenerQuest. They kept going back and forth about what Robert Preus said or wrote - ignoring the Scriptures. That should remind them of the Talmud, where layer upon layer of explanation was built upon the Word, so scholarship became the ability to remember all the commentary rather than the revelation of the Truth.

Their response would be, "And do you dare to mock us? You did not graduate from our seminary. Begone, evildoer."

The setting is a marriage in Galilee, where the mother of Jesus was present. Jesus and His disciples were invited and came to the wedding, so the miracle was witnessed by the disciples and by those present.

Luther explains the presences of Mary as probably substituting for the parents. We can see that she feels a responsibility for the entire group while a mere guest might only complain about the supply problem.

The Reformer has a small sermon here, just on weddings. We should note that Jesus' presence with His disciples shows His blessing of marriage. The Benedictine monks did not marry, but they paid a large sum plus a barrel of wine for the 18 x 27 foot painting of this miracle, posted at the top. Some monks were so against marriage that they would not attend one.

But marriage is the only state created by the Word of God, and this began with God's blessing with Adam and Eve. The world is so evil and without faith that mankind despises and avoids marriage, or sees it only in material terms. What God means to bless and comfort people and to raise children in the best way - mankind dismisses as a burden.

Note that almost all advice about marriage is  entirely material, self-centered, and devoid of faith. Weddings are often extravaganzas, a fortune spent, or even more embarrassing (I would think) a performance venue for a priest singing a Leonard Cohen pop song, the bride or groom showing off their limited singing skills, or the bridal party dancing down the aisle of the church. Two of my nieces were married at convenient secular places, no Christian faith involved.

When people have no faith in Christ, they only see marriage as something that will benefit their own wants. This blindness prevents them from seeing the difficulties of marriage as anything more than a burden to be set aside. However, from the viewpoint of the Christian Faith, the duties and obligations are an opportunity to serve the spouse or the children and a delight. 

Yale narrowed down the crying of a baby to two things - hunger or pain. They studied the hands of babies as they cried to determine which was which. Mothers take great pleasure in their diagnosis and solution to the problem. But other people say, "I can't stand children crying," showing a definite lack of memory about their own childhood.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 

The lack of wine is a real problem, which suggests a lack of money. Weddings are social gatherings, multi-day events in many societies, a family reunion. The presence of friends and relatives, Jesus and the disciples, drew down the supply and provided an embarrassment. Mary's suggestion to Jesus shows her faith in Him, who would have an answer.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 

Jesus' response shows us several things at once. John's Gospel shows Jesus responding to His mother twice, calling her "woman" each time, not "mother." This shows that He was her Lord, indicated again at the cross, where he said to John, "Behold your mother" and to Mary "Women, behold your son." This passage and others show Mary was not to be regarded as semi-divine, but a real person with our own failings, yet filled with faith in Him and faithful to the point of witnessing His cruel and horrible death.

The Scriptures teach Christ - not Mary and the officially designated saints - so it is no surprise that Lutherans who denigrate faith also become obsessed with Mary and the official list of saints. In the New Testament, the saints are believers, not members of a pantheon.

Lutheran clergy are sad examples of abandoning the Reformation. They little realize that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are not as enchanted with "priests" and "bishops" and all the priestcraft as the quasi-Lutherans are. 

 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it

This is an important turning point in the miracle. Although Jesus seems to be unfriendly and uncaring in His response, Mary's faith only expects the best.

18. Hence the highest thought in this Gospel lesson, and it must ever be kept in mind, is, that we honor God as being good and gracious, even if he acts and speaks otherwise, and all our understanding and feeling be otherwise., For in this way feeling is killed, and the old man perishes, so that nothing but faith in God’s goodness remains, and no feeling. For here you see how his mother retains a free faith and holds it forth as an example to us. She is certain that he will be gracious, although she does not feel it.

She is certain also that she feels otherwise than she believes. Therefore she freely leaves and commends all to his goodness, and fixes for him neither time nor place, neither manner nor measure, neither person nor name. He is to act when it pleases him. If not in the midst of the feast, then at the end of it, or after the feast. My defeat I will swallow, his scorning me, letting me stand in disgrace before all the guests, speaking so unkindly to me, causing us all to blush for shame. He acts tart, but he is sweet I know. Let us proceed in the same way, then we are true Christians.

19. Here note how severely he deals with his own mother, teaching us thereby not only the example of faith mentioned above, but confirming that in things pertaining to God and his service we are to know neither father nor mother, as Moses writes in Deuteronomy 33:9: “He who says of his father and of his mother, I know them not, observes thy Word, Israel.” For although there is no higher authority on earth than that of father and mother, still this ends when God’s Word and work begin. For in divine things neither father nor mother, still less, a bishop or any other person, only God’s Word is to teach and guide. And if father and mother were to order, teach, or even beg you to do anything for God, and in his service that he has not clearly ordered and commanded, you are to reply: Quid mihi et tibi? What have I and you to do with each other? In this same way Christ there refuses absolutely to do God’s work when his own mother wants it.

20. For father and mother are in duty bound, yea, God made them father and mother for this very purpose, not to teach and lead their children to God according to their own notions and devotion, but according to God’s command; as St. Paul declares in Ephesians 6:4: “Ye fathers; provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord;” i.e. teach them God’s command and Word, as you were taught, and not notions of your own.

Thus in this Gospel lesson you see the mother of Christ directing the servants away from herself unto Christ, telling them not: Whatsoever I say unto you, do it; but: “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” To this Word alone you must direct everyone, if you would direct aright; so that this word of Mary (whatsoever he saith, do it) is, and ought to be, a daily saying in Christendom, destroying all doctrines of men and everything not really Christ’s Word. And we ought firmly to believe that what is imposed upon us over and above God’s Word is not, as they boast and lie, the commandment of the church. For Mary says: Whatsoever he saith that, that, that do, and that alone; for in it there will be enough to do.

21. Here also you see, how faith does not fail, God does not permit that, but gives more abundantly and gloriously than we ask. For here not merely wine is given, but excellent and good wine, and a great quantity of it. By this he again entices and allures us to believe confidently in him, though he delay. For he is truthful and cannot deny himself; he is good and gracious, that he must of himself confess and in addition prove it, unless we hinder him and refuse him time and place and the means to do so. At last he cannot forsake his work, as little as he can forsake himself — if only we can hold out until his hour comes.

So when our faith is tested, and it often is, everything looks dark and God seems not to care. Those who are impatient with God, lacking faith, see only a lack of power or compassion in God. While we all feel that at times, repeated experiences show us that God was already preparing an answer. Faith defeats our feelings, which are volatile, ever-changing. 

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it

The details of the miracle show that no trickery was involved, important then and now, because frauds still exist and manufacture miracles for the gullible.  This miracle also  involved many people who participated without knowing what would happen until it did happen. This gave others, who were not there, confirming details that this miracle came from God.

Just as important, this is a miracle of God's Word commanding the impossible to happen. Can Christ be present in both natures in the elements of communion? Doubting that miracle is doubting the Word that changed water into wine, multiplied the loaves, stilled the storm, cured the lepers, brought the universe into being, and made new creations (creatures) out of unbelievers, by Holy Baptism or by adult conversion.

9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 

This is the essence of all God's work. Whatever is needed, God supplies far more, in abundance and quality, beyond any request or even our imagination.

Ephesians 3 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
The chiding of the governor of the feast, aimed at the bridegroom, adds a humorous note to the miracle, because the change in quality was so great that the best wine at the end was against tradition and common sense.

In the same way, the Word of God transforms everything we accomplish and experience. John Bunyan was imprisoned for being independent of the Church of England. God made him the most important Christian writer in the English language.

The papacy pursued the Lutherans during the Reformation, exiled and persecuted the French Protestants later. There were many sporadic persecutions of Protestants, all serving to move them to America or other safe places to establish the Christian Faith anew, just as Roman persecutions spread the Gospel in the Apostolic Age. 

As Luther wrote, the Holy Spirit is so powerful that He can turn the greatest evil into the greatest good, as he did on Good Friday.

 By Norma Boeckler