15. January 2023
In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.
Jesus loves weddings. He cares for marriage. From the beginning, He created us male and female and wrote marriage into the fabric of nature. Thus, it is no coincidence that the first miracle recorded in John’s Gospel is at a wedding. He blessed and honored marriage with His presence at Cana’s wedding feast. The Word became flesh and comes to restore flesh to be in conformity with the Word.
It is Jesus who spoke man into existence after His own image. When He saw Adam, he said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Then He took from Adam’s side a rib and formed it into Eve, the woman. Male and female, He made them. He gave this woman to Adam to be his bride. She was given to love and serve, and He was given to protect, provide, and love.
But it didn’t take long for marriage to go sideways. Despite Adam’s complete ineptitude in caring for his wife—allowing her to be tempted by the serpent and not rebuking the falsehood that he spoke—despite all this, God still provides a man and woman. No sin should get in the way of whom God made us—male and female— and the gift of marriage He gives. Jesus loves weddings. Jesus cares for marriages. Thus, Jesus still repeats the word He first spoke at creation to the union of matrimony, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, And they shall become one flesh.”
From the beginning and until He comes again, Jesus gives wonderful blessings to weddings and marriages. Marriage is God-ordained for help, support, and companionship. As God delights in us, so spouses delight in each other. And despite the reign of sin and death in this world, He still grants life to man and woman, knitting together babies in the woman’s womb. And He blesses these children with godly parents who will raise in them in fear and instruction of the Lord.
Yes, there is the curse that attacked the very core of all civil society, marriage. All the pomp, circumstance, and celebration at the wedding don’t make for a good marriage. Marriage is hard work and a daily grind. When two sinners are together in one flesh union, it will never be easy. Husbands rule over their wives. Wives seek to overthrow their husband’s authority. Husbands have great difficulty providing for their families. Women suffer greatly from the pain of childbirth and child-rearing. And then there’s every earthy temptation to lust, adultery, abandonment, and hostility.
We see challenges to marriage every day. Just seven years ago, a challenge to marriage was announced to go before the Supreme Court to legalize federally so-called “same-sex marriage.” Christian pastors and faithful laypeople stood up and contested this violation of God’s institution of marriage. We warned of the proverbial “slippery slope,” which turned out to be an avalanche of all manner of creation-denying debauchery. The first attacks on sex, followed by attacks on marriage and, finally, sexualizing children. It should be no surprise to us that marriage is being redefined and re-oriented. Despite our natural knowledge, obvious physiology, and common sense, the union of man and woman in marriage cannot be understood fully apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without the Word, we’ll accept whatever lies our flesh, the world, and the deceiver tells us.
But Jesus loves weddings and cares for marriages. He has a far better life for you, even restoring among us a glimpse of paradise. Nothing sustains, restores, heals, and mends our marriages better than the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus. The church is God’s place for healing for marriage. Christ Jesus continually forgives us so that we may continually do the same for each other, our spouses and our children. He showers us with His grace and mercy so that we would have the same grace and mercy for each other. He gives us His love so that we may once again love each other, restoring marriage to holy matrimony, a union set apart for God’s good use.
Jesus loves weddings. He cares for marriages. He confesses in the parable that heaven is a marriage feast (Mt. 22:1-14). St. John, in his Apocalypse records from heaven, “‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” (Rev. 19:7-9)
St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is even bolder and more direct. Marriage from the beginning was given to reflect the ultimate marriage of Christ to His holy bride, the church. Our marriages are blessed and cared for by Jesus because they are dim mirrors of His full and complete love for you, His church. We learn of Christ when we live in marriage. We see how much we need Christ’s love when we see how hard it is to love each other when learning how Christ loves us and when we learn to love each other in marriage.
It would not bode well for the marriage if the wine had run out. Jesus’s mother, or “woman” as He calls her, knows this truth. She also seems to know that Jesus cares. In typical fashion, Jesus challenges her assertion, “They have no wine.” “What does this have to do with me?” Indeed, what does it have to do with Jesus? Every other miracle recorded by the Evangelist seems more important—feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and raising the dead, but dealing with a wine shortage? John gives big hints. Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come.” Throughout John’s Gospel, Christ repeats, “my hour has not yet come.” Everything is happening to lead us to the last day and final hour. Not until Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples on Holy Thursday is it time for Jesus to reveal the fullness of the glory of God.
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” (John 17:1-2)
So also, it’s no coincidence that the wedding at Cana took place on the third day. Just a few verses after today’s Gospel story, Jesus talks about destroying the temple and rebuilding it in three days, referring to His death and resurrection (John 2:19-21). This is the sixth day in John’s Gospel. In Genesis, man and woman were made on the sixth day. During Holy Week, the sixth day is the day of Christ’s death. John is linking this wedding to both the creation and to Christ’s death. The redemption of man is through Christ’s death.
Jesus’s death upon the cross for the forgiveness of sins is how He makes us His holy bride. For in the forgiveness of sins, we are made pure, spotless, without blemish and wrinkle. All our sin is covered in an immaculately white baptismal gown. We are veiled with Christ’s own righteousness. He now stands at the right hand of God the Father, at the front of His holy sanctuary. On the last day, He will see you and welcome you as His holy bride to His marriage feast. We have received the washing in His blood by Baptism. Because of His death, we are atoned for. As we process on that day before the throne of God, He sees us as perfect, holy, pure, and blameless. And as His bride, we will enter into the marriage hall and the wedding of the Lamb, with feasting that never ends and wine that never runs dry. Jesus loves weddings. He cares for marriages. And Jesus has saved the best for last. Amen.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin