Jars of Water or Jars of Wine

John 2:1-11

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

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. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Dear Friends in Christ,

About 10 years ago I was honored to be the best man for my brother, Tim, at his wedding.  With that honor, he also asked if I was willing to give a speech, the typical best man speech.  Of course I agreed.  I mean it was a chance to give my brother are hard time in front of a big group of people and he couldn’t really say that much back.  All these years later I still remember the gist of the speech.  It was kind of what to expect to his wife, Amy.  I told her to be prepared to have Star Wars on a lot at the house.  More importantly be ready for the for him to be upset when the Cubbies would lose.  And 10 years ago that happened pretty regularly.  I concluding my speech by giving him a flag to replace the Cubs flag he had, I thought he would much rather have a White Sox flag.  There is one other thing that I remember about that speech and that was how much my hand was shaking holding the speech.  My had was going a mile a minute and the papers was just flapping in the air.  I was relieved once it was over.  I’m thankful that these days my hands don’t shake like mad when I’m standing in front of the congregation.

Being requested to do something at a wedding is common practice.  Best men and maids of honor are always asked to give a toast to the newlyweds.  There are certain songs the bride and groom ask to be played.  And just many other little odds and ends that are asked to be taken care of.  There is one thing that I would almost bet anything hasn’t been asked at a wedding seriously since our Gospel Reading for today.  Well, I guess it really wasn’t a question it was more of an implied question when Mary said to Jesus, “They have no more wine.”  Mary was implying that Jesus could use His divine abilities to do something about the fact there was no more wine.  I love Jesus response of “Woman, why do you involve Me?”  It was almost like Jesus was embarrassed by His mother asking Him to do something.  I’m sure the kids out there can relate to Jesus and His response.  Jesus wasn’t embarrassed or showing disrespect to Mary, His mother by referring to her as woman.  That was actually a common and respectful greeting in those days.  Now, I don’t recommend to any of the youth out there to refer to their mothers as woman when you are asked to do something.  Jesus responded the way that He did because His time had not yet come.  That time Jesus was referring to was His death when God would glorify Him.

Most people are pretty familiar with these account from Scripture.  Jesus turning water into wine.  This morning for the rest of my time I want to look at what the Jars of Water and what the Jars of Wine represent.  Let’s first look at the Jars of Water.  They represent the Law, which demands our works and leaves us, like the stone jars, hardened, hypocrites, and full of the fear and dread of God’s judgment.

Maybe there is times in your life where you are like that Jars of Water.  You become so focused on works.  It almost becomes a works righteousness mentality.  You become a slave to doing good works because it will lead to your salvation.  When that becomes our primary focus in our lives it can lead to hypocrisy or even just judging other people.  Hypocrisy can creep in when we see somebody doing something that we do just in a smaller way.  Maybe, you speak out about the words you see on TV or other people speak.  When you at times say inappropriate things but not nearly to the degree as other people.  In those times we seem to forget that a sin is a sin.  One illustration I love is this picture.  It shows how we view sin and how God views sin.  You can see that when look at sins we see them varying in degrees but God just sees them all as equals.  Or maybe we become judgmental.  We look at our neighbor, coworker, friend, person sitting next to us in church and judge them because they aren’t on the same level of being a Christian that you are.  You wonder how can that person even consider themselves a Christian.  All these things lead to a hardened heart.  All of these fall on the pride side of this hardened heart.

Other times or hardened can become so hardened by fear of God’s judgment.  You become so afraid of God that it scares you to even think about going to church.  You might even think that God is going to strike you down immediately as you walk in because of what you have done that week.  Maybe you are too afraid to pray to God seeking His forgiveness.  You truly become crippled by your dread of judgment.  The Law is a good thing God has provided that to us to keep us safe.  We should never let it keep us away from God.  When we are the Jars of Water we can either become to focused on works righteousness or we are crippled with the fear of God’s judgment.

But what about the Jars of Wine.  They represent the Gospel.  The Gospel which removes the judgment of the Law and consoles us.  Martin Luther said, “For when the heart hears that Christ fulfils the Law for us and takes our sin upon Himself, it no longer cares that impossible things are demanded by the Law. … This is because the heart now has in Christ all that the Law demands. … The Law is delightful now and easy which before was disagreeable, difficult and impossible; for it lives in the heart by the Spirit.”

As I said the Gospel removes judgment.  We are no longer judged by our actions.  What a joy that is!  If we were judged by our actions we would be in a whole lot of trouble.  Even if we did “good works” so to speak, the question is what is our motives behind them.  Is it so we can look better in the eyes of those around us?  To look better in the eyes of God?  If that is our motivation that’s a problem.  It might look good to those around us but God knows that we aren’t doing that out of love.  Do you think Jesus went to the cross so He could look good in our eyes?  Of course not!  He did it because He loves us!  Love is the reason Christ was a servant to all.  Just as love was Christ’s motivation, love is our motivation.  I look back at the mission trips over the years I know I speak of this personally and I’m sure many of our teams would say the same thing we did what we did on those trips because of our love for the people we were serving.  Just as Christ didn’t judge the people He served in His earthly ministry we neither judge those who we serve.  We do it because of love.  Just imagine a world where people do “good works” because of their love for their fellow human being.  Don’t look at your works as a way boast your popularity, social status, ego, but look at it as a way of being a little Christ to those God has place in your life.  It will make the world a better place and when we do that we don’t get caught up in being judged by our actions.  It won’t matter, what will matter is being a servant.  We have a great servant to learn from in Christ Jesus.

The Gospel removes judgment and it also consoles.  You know as well as I do that you are sinner, I am a sinner, everybody is a sinner.  As we talked about that can give us a crippling fear.  It doesn’t have to be that way, we have a Savior who died for our sins.  We have a God who loved us so much He sent His Son to be that Savior.  God daily shows us mercy.  My favorite part of the crucifixion scene in the Bible is when Jesus has the conversation with the thief on the cross.  The Bible doesn’t tell us what the thief has done just that he was being crucified.  That tells me that whatever he did wasn’t good.  They just didn’t go around nailing people to the cross, he committed a crime that they deemed necessary the punishment was dying on a cross.   But while on the cross that man recognized and realized who Jesus truly was, his Savior.  He asked that Jesus just remember him.  Jesus did one better when He said, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”  That thief was just hoping Jesus would remember but in those few words Jesus was letting him know that his sins were forgiven and he would be in heaven.  The same is true for you and me.  God hears our pleas for forgiveness.  He forgives us because of Christ.  We are consoled by the power of the cross.  It was there Jesus made the necessary sacrifice so we can rest assured of God’s forgiveness.  It is there for us we just need to remember that we can always go to the cross in search of the forgiveness.  And let me tell you a secret if we do that we will always find the forgiveness we need.

So are you a jar of water or a jar of wine.  Maybe there are days that you are the jar of water.  It is my prayer that we all will be jars of wine.  Finding comfort in the Gospel.  Letting the love of the Gospel Message reign in our lives.  Showing love to those God has placed in our lives.  Remembering that no matter how far we have strayed from God, He will always be there for with open arms.  And when we go to Him, He will wrap His arms around.  My guess is there will be no greater hug than that of what we receive when we meet our Heavenly Father one day.  And it won’t be because of what we have done in this life.  But it will be because of what Jesus did, and that was die on a cross for our sins.