Wedding Day!

Heritage Presbyterian Church

2nd Sunday After Epiphany
January 16, 2022

Scriptures – Isaiah 62: 1-5 and John 2: 1-11

A wedding day is a special event in which everyone there wants everything to go perfectly.  It usually doesn’t – something unplanned almost always happens – but the successful weddings have lots of people who can just roll with it and adjust.  You don’t want the wedding to be ruined…but you know it probably can’t be absolutely perfect.

Yet…when something major goes wrong at a wedding, it can quickly ruin it and cause great embarrassment for all involved.  After all, a wedding day is supposed to be special – not ruined.

So…what are some things that can ruin a wedding day celebration?  How about things like these:

  • The flowers arrive, but they are not the ones that were ordered; at this point, some relative MUST tell the wedding coordinator that the florist she recommended would never have done this, and you should have listened to her in the first place.
  • The DJ didn’t bother to test run his equipment before arriving and now has discovered that his stuff doesn’t necessarily integrate with the equipment that the wedding venue already has in place.
  • The two wedding parties – the bridesmaids and the groomsmen – are forced to wait a little too long for the ceremony to begin because of “unforeseen delays,” so someone comes up with the clever idea to do tequila shots before the ceremony.
  • Someone in the wedding party – and I’m not pointing any fingers – is still at least a little bit intoxicated from the rehearsal dinner the night before.
  • During the wedding ceremony itself, when the minister says, “If anyone here has any reason that these two should not be married, let them speak now or forever hold their peace,” someone decides to say something.

I think we’d all agree that any of these things – and perhaps many others you have personally witnessed – have the capacity to ruin a wedding day celebration.

But running out of wine?  That ruins the day?  Seriously?

This is one more reason why it is SO important that when we read and study the Bible, we also strive to understand the context behind the accounts that we read.  If we only look with our so-called modern lens, we miss things.

In the days of Jesus, a traditional wedding lasted about three days.  There were lots and lots of ceremonies, rituals, customs, and events that had to happen in a certain order for the celebration to go perfectly.  If the host of the feast ran out of wine – either the good stuff or the cheap stuff – that was seen as poor planning and shameful.  

We may not get it, but the folks in the days of Jesus certainly did.

At this point, I would like to reject some theories that have been written and shared over the centuries that supposedly shed more light on this story of the “Wedding at Cana”:

  • When Jesus brought his newly chosen disciples with him to the wedding, that overloaded the carefully planned guest list, and that’s why they ran out of wine too early.
  • When Mary implored Jesus to do something to help out, she was taking an opportunity to show off the miraculous powers of her son, the Son of God.
  • When Jesus told Mary, “Woman, it is not my time,” he was asserting his authority as the Messiah to appear in his own time and place; the fact that Mary ignored this points to the low value of this particular theory.
  • When Mary ignored what Jesus told her, she was asserting her influence over him to direct him to begin his work so his new disciples could witness his powers.

There are others…but this list is long enough for me.

I prefer to focus on something else…the most important component of any wedding: the expectation of love.

When two people get married, no one – absolutely no normal person – shows up hoping it won’t work out.  Some witnesses may see something troubling.  Some witnesses know things others don’t know.  Some witnesses dread the future for the couple.  But most are there to witness the marriage and to hope and pray for the couple’s happiness.

It’s all about love – in other words.

John is the only Gospel writer to tell this particular story – the first public miracle that Jesus performed.  John used all of Jesus’ miracles as very comforting evidence of Christ’s power to work those miracles – and to do more than preach and sacrifice himself.  His primary mission in coming to earth was to save us; but along the way, he also performed miracles that revealed his personal love for the individual persons involved.  

In performing miracles, Jesus was doing the following:

  1.  He was entering into people’s troubles, not being a distant, aloof god who does not truly care.   
  2. He was meeting the needs in every difficulty; in other words, Jesus got involved in the dirty, day-to-day needs of the people.
  3. Jesus was enriching life for both the receiver of the miracle and his or her family and community.  When the blind could suddenly see, don’t you think that affected their lives, the lives of their families, and the lives of those in the community?

That is love, my friends…the love of Jesus.  God has a loving heart toward us, and Jesus revealed this fact in all that he said and did.

Isaiah takes this metaphor a step farther – farther than the story of a wedding party saved by the power of Jesus.  Isaiah wrote of forgotten love, spurned love, love that was consistently given but also consistently rejected.  

When Isaiah was a prophet, the people he served had just been conquered by the Assyrian army, and the Northern Kingdom of Israel was defeated and carried off into captivity.  Those people had turned away from the love of God time and time and time again.  In their history of various kings, they scarcely had more than one good one!  Each king would lead the people into more and more acts of turning away from the God that loved them, served them, and was still hoping they would return to his love.

But they did not return.  That is unrequited love and imagine how much it must have hurt God!  Think of a bride doing this to the groom on the day of their wedding.  Now think of the groom still being in love with that bride – even after being rejected at the altar.  Think again of how much that would hurt.

Isaiah paints a picture of God still in love with his people, still hoping they will return, still waiting in vain for them to come to their senses and realize who had loved them through everything – even though they made their hurtful choices.  Isaiah also reminds us that the groom’s love for the bride is still deep and true – but it is not without limits. 

From there, Isaiah continued to use various metaphors to convey God’s emotions at this situation; God’s emotions are compared to those of an angry parent, a woman in labor…

…and even a disappointed lover.

But if and when God’s people return with sorrow and regret and love to the God who loves them the best, the restoration of Israel becomes the happy remarriage of the Lord to his people.

Like I said before. that is love, my friends…the love of Jesus.  God has a loving heart toward us, and Jesus revealed this fact in all that he said and did.

So, as we ponder all the events at the wedding at Cana, let us remember that it is not the various details of any wedding – including this one – that are most important.  It is the love that is apparent and vital to the event that reveals a small glimpse of the love that God has for all his children.