In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
For most of you here today I’m going to need you to think WAY back… to when you first began dating a new person... How did you act? How would you act on a first date? Probably some version of your best behaviour, at least some version of what you think they’ll like, what they would think is cool.
This is what we do in the world. We want people to think well of us. We want them to think the best of us because we love ourselves. Though some would say that if we change ourselves so superficially for someone else, then we really don’t love ourselves. Either way, in our sin we are afraid of judgement, afraid of rejection. And loving ourselves we want them to like us, so we change ourselves into some version we think they will like more than who we actually are. And would that we loved others in the same way we love ourselves, wanting to think the best of them just as we want others to think the best of us! Not requiring them to change who they are for us, and assuming the best of their actions rather than the worst.
But on some level isn’t the way we date, or even the way we approach anyone new in our lives, all just a game of bait and switch? Isn’t it lying? Deception? Putting forward a picture of a self that doesn’t actually exist? For you are not all you should be or could be. And love that is real love must confront even the warts and wrinkles you have, and either put up with them, or even delights in, or cover them over with its loving care. For love covers a multitude of sins. And so real love goes beyond the makeup and the make believe and the best behaviour. It goes beyond the superficial, and the control top panty hose, the slimming girdles, the push-up bras, the bravado, and put-on charm, and all the short lived changes in how clean your car is, or how well you dress.
Real love that leads to the blessings of marriage must accept the other person, warts and all. There are many things about you and me that ought to change, that need to change. Bad habits. Sinful practices. Selfish ways. Things we must repent of. But love goes beyond the superficial coverings we throw over our bad habits. Love uncovers these things. Love accepts them. And by love you are inspired to be better than you are on account of the one who loves you.
For love is the opposite of our world. Our world teaches us how to date, how to search for “love,” how to act. Our world, which is firmly in the grips of Satan, says, “Lie. Don’t be yourself. Cover up. Hide your faults. No one will love you. No one will accept you if they know your true nature. If they know what you’ve done...” And our world says these things for good reason. For when you have been honest, when you have revealed your true self, warts and all, people have been cruel to you. They have rejected you. They have trampled you down, trod upon your heart, and crushed you into the earth. And so you learn to be false. To put on a brave face, a fake face. To play make-believe. Because our world doesn’t really want the real you. They want a fake you. One who doesn’t exist. One who can’t exist because of sin in each of us.
Even in the throwing of weddings in our Lord’s day it was the same. Put your best foot forward. Make your best impression. Serve the best wine you can afford first. Make everyone think you are wealthy and gracious. And then just as soon as they are deep in their cup, pull out the bad stuff, the inferior stuff, the watered down stuff, the stuff that has just enough alcohol in it to keep the party going.
But Our Lord does things the opposite of the world. He serves the best wine last. And this ultimately refers to the Old and New Testaments. This is opposite of every instinct in our world. Even in the aging and quality of wine no one wants to drink the newer vintage first. You want to drink the older stuff, the aged stuff, the fine stuff before you have to suffer the new, unaged, low-quality wine.
But with our God the more deeply you have drunk of the Old Testament with its laws and demands of you, the more deeply you will only crave the new wine of His New Testament for His new wine is better than the old. His new wine is the wine of pardon, grace, forgiveness, salvation. A wine that covers your faults, your shames, your disasters with His grace, mercy, forgiveness and peace.
Whereas in the world we don’t save the best for last. We pull a bait and switch. Putting our best foot forward, even though the rest of us isn’t as good. It seems good enough for the world, for that is the way of the world. The world is a broken place. But it’s not good enough for Jesus. He does all things well saving His best for last. Even fixing your brokenness with His wine of pardon.
His first covenant, the old one, was inferior to the new one which delivers His salvation freely without any merit or worthiness in you. This flies in the face of our instincts which insist that we have to earn by work or by cunning. He gives out grace when we would give out judgement. He supplies your needs when we would cut someone off and leave them to fend for themselves.
Now all of this happened on the third day. Which is another way our Lord flies in the face of the world. People in this world die and stay dead. But not our Lord. The third day after His death He rose, defeating this world, defeating death, putting to shame this world and its ways. Disproving it. Beating it.
Now this wedding occurred three days after the last event recorded in the Gospel of John. Which means this is actually the sixth day of narrative in the Gospel. And what happened in Bible on the sixth day? Three things: on the sixth day of Creation man was created; on the sixth day of Creation marriage was created; on the sixth day of Holy Week our Lord died for the sins of man. And on that day of His death a spear was shoved into His side to see if He was truly dead, and blood and water flowed out of Him.
But on this sixth day of John’s Gospel, at this wedding, six stone pots for ritual washing were filled with water at the Lord’s command. At His command the water was drawn out to be drunk. But at His command the water had become wine. The water turned wine had become a blessing of joy and celebration to this bankrupt wedding. Just as the water of Baptism and wine of His Supper wash us from our sins, giving us the joy of His eternal union to His bride the Church. And this water and wine connect us to His sixth day, to His death. They wash us and restore us to the perfection, purity and bliss of our sixth day when mankind was created in innocence and holiness, and given the blessing of marital union between man and woman.
And through this blood and water which flowed from our Lord’s side He makes for Himself a new Woman. A purified, holy bride for Himself. The Holy Christian Church. His beloved wife. Cleansed by Him. Declared holy on account of His own saving action on Her behalf. A new Eve through whom the saviour is born into the world. This is why our Lord calls His mother “Woman”. It seems so cold to us. But it is the same name that Adam first gave to Eve, and it was one of her sons who would save mankind from their sin. And here was this woman, whose son was the Saviour. Here on this sixth day, the Saviour saves the wedding, showing Himself the Saviour of mankind, one who saves not by might nor power, not by the ways of the world, but lovingly sacrificing Himself for His beloved. For you.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.