A Marriage Made in Heaven
A Marriage Made in Heaven
Isaiah 62:1-5; John 2:1-11
2nd Sunday after the Epiphany ~ January 14, 2007
“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5b, ESV)
One of the more vivid images or metaphors in Scripture is that of a marriage or bide and bridegroom. It is the image used to not only talk about a reality of a very special relationship for a man and a woman but it is also used to talk about the intimate relationship God has with us. God is the bridegroom (more specifically Christ) who comes after His bride – us the church.
In our Gospel lesson today we hear of Jesus first miracle, the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. At first blush I have always wondered about this miracle. It seems like a fleeting miracle – the water is turned to wine that is drunk and then it is over. It is not like a healing or a calming of the storm that seem so much more like I would expect God to do. But Jesus’ miracles always point to a truth bigger than the miracle itself – they always point to what God is doing. And this is a miracle that I believe point to the bigger image of the bride and bridegroom.
I like this text because it reminds me of a special time in my life. It was that last year of college for me and I was planning to go to Seminary the next year. Sara and I had been dating for over a year and we knew that we were heading toward getting married. So I wanted to propose to her in my senior year and I wanted to make is special (like any engagement is). That year the college was having a trip to the Holy Land which both Sara and I were planning to attend. That was it! This was going to be the perfect opportunity for me to propse to Sara. And I formed the idea that we would get engaged in Cana - the place where Jesus attended a wedding. How perfect would that be?
Well it didn't quite work out. When we got to Isreal I soon learned that we really don't know where Cana is. In fact there were four places that claimed to be Cana and each is a very small town. None were the place that I had in mind when I was thinking of a romantic place. Needless to say we didn't get engaged in Cana but on the shores of Galilee which proved to be a more romantic spot.
In the same way this is how we can approach this text today. On the surface we see a wedding. But there is so much more at work in this text. This being the first miracle of Jesus draws us to what character His ministry is to take. It also draws us back to the Old Testament and the promise that the Bridegroom is going – and now is – coming for the Bride – the Church. Jesus is coming for you and for me. The wedding at Cana, while a great miracle for the participants is also a fore-taste of what is to come in Christ. (This is why Christ said my time has not yet come to His mother – the true miracle is His death and resurrection).
I have been a part of many weddings as a pastor over the past 10 years. And it has seemed to born true that there is always something the family worries about. And it has always been true that each wedding has gone off beautifully. But we all worry, what if something goes wrong. I am sure this family was about to have a monumental crisis on their hands. In a small town like Cana there probably would be only one wedding a year and so it would be “the” social event. It was to be the best celebration for the whole town. And your think we get stressed about a one day wedding event – most weddings in the time of Jesus would have lasted 3 to 7 days! And now they have run out of wine. What would happen? Would they become the laughing stock of the whole town? What kind of shame would they face?
Haven’t we encountered times in our life that we have felt “dried up?” Haven’t we come to see our own sinfulness as something that hurts and brings us down? Haven’t we felt like we have faced many crisis’ in our life and weren’t sure what is going to come of them? Then this miracle speaks to us. Maybe you have felt “dried-up” in the past and can remember that time. Maybe you are feeling that way now. Either way we will all face a time of crisis and wonder what will become of our thirsty soul. The miracle of the wine tells us where we can turn for help. Jesus’ mother told the servants to listen to Him. She trusted that Jesus would show His love. We too can trust Jesus and listen to Him. And He will give us a new wine, fill up our souls and allow us to celebrate with Him. And not only fill us up – but He will give us the best. Do you remember in the story – the wine that was brought to the master of the feast wasn’t just “replacement” wine – it was even better.
When we face the dryness of our sin we can know that the best is yet to come. Another piece of this wedding image might be good for us to explore too. Often in ancient times they had a specific ritual of getting ready for a wedding. After the bride and bridegroom were pledged to each other the bridegroom would go and leave his bride to prepare their home. Maybe it was adding on a room to the family home. Maybe it would be a new place. Either way he would go and prepare this place for them to live as husband and wife. And the second he got it done the celebration would start. It wouldn’t matter the time of day the bridegroom would announce that the time was ready for the wedding ceremony.
Later in the Gospel of John Jesus says a similar thing to His disciples – He is going to prepare a place for them and all believers. We often use this text at funerals to draw our attention to the heavenly home that awaits all believers. The Bridegroom has prepared a place for us and will come to take us to be with Him to celebrate at His banquet table. And the best is yet to come. We have been pledged to Jesus as His Bride and He will come to take us home – the place He is preparing for us.
But while we wait we can still rejoice. We can still taste of this new wine – in the Lord’s Supper. It is a fore-taste of the feast to come. It is the new wine given to us better than the old, better than the dryness. We can taste and see that the Lord is good. We come to the wedding banquet each time we share in the Lord’s Supper. We get a fore-taste of heaven. When we feel the weight of the world let us find our comfort in our Bridegroom who loves us so much that He has given of Himself for us and is preparing a place for us in heaven. The best is yet to come. Amen