Those of you who were at St John’s on Sunday will recall that in his sermon Gerry left us with a question: What was Jesus doing for the first 30 years of his life before his baptism by John and the beginning of his ministry with this story of turning water into wine in Cana?
Its an intriguing question. Did he only have miraculous powers when he had been baptised with the Holy Spirit? Or did he have those powers but choose not to use them for the first 30 years of his life?
If we say the first: that he only had miraculous powers when he was baptised by the Holy Spirit, then we are questioning whether Jesus was divine before he was baptised and only became divine when he was baptised. But the Church has always taught that Jesus was 100% divine and 100% human…. from his conception by the Holy Spirit and even now today…
Attempts by various people over the last 2000 years to suggest that Jesus was partially human and partially divine or all divine and not human at all or all human and not divine at all have been dismissed by the church as heresies…
So if that is the case then why did he choose not to heal people, not to convert water into wine before his baptism by John and the Holy Spirit? Why did he choose not to heal the sick that he must have come into contact with during his childhood and young adult hood?
Why did he not alleviate the suffering that undoubtedly would have been all around him as he grew up in Nazareth?
We find the answer in verse 11 of John 2 ‘Jesus did this, the miracle of the turning water into winethe first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee and revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him’
Matthew describes Jesus’ miracles as signs.
Signs of what? Signs that the kingdom of God has drawn near. Signs that the opportunity to become a subject of the kingdom of God has drawn near.
Jesus’ miracles were opportunities for those who witnessed them to become his disciples, to believe him. They were signs pointing the way for us to take.
You see Jesus did not come to Earth to heal everyone. Jesus did not come to earth to remove suffering….there were still people who were sick, there were still people who were suffering in first century Palestine after his ministry was over, even during his ministry. The miracles were signs pointing towards the kingdom of God; a first fruit of what will eventually happen when Jesus returns again and all suffering will end, as we read in Revelation. The signs were pointing towards the opportunity to repent and follow Jesus.
Indeed in Matthew 10 and Luke 10 we see Jesus sending out the disciples to visit the towns and villages. He tells them to cure the sick raise the dead, cleanse lepers cast out demons…..and in Luke he says that they should tell these villages ‘the kingdom of God has drawn near you’
But then he condemns two towns Chorazin and Bethsaida and says to them: if the deeds of power ie the miracles that Jesus had done in those towns had been done in the Old Testament town of Sodom (which was so notorious for its evil that you will recall God destroyed it through a volcano and Lot’s wife was turned to a pillar of salt because she looked back….); If the deeds of power had been done in Sodom, Jesus says the people of Sodom would have repented long ago but the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida (towns contemporary to Jesus) had not taken the opportunity of the Kingdom of God drawing near….
Jesus’ miracles, including the conversion of water into wine in Cana, are to point the way to the kingdom of God; To provide us with an opportunity to repent; To believe; To become his disciples.
But what does that mean for us today?
When times are difficult, whatever our beliefs, whether we would see ourselves as Christians or not…..we sometimes find ourselves praying…. desperately ‘Please God may this or that thing happen or Not happen’. ‘Please God help me through this problem. Give me the strength to see this through’. And somehow….sometimes….we get a very surprising result which astonishes us….the problem gets solved, often at the last moment, often in the most unexpected way.
It’s happened to me many times…I have often told you about the story of our best man who was saved from jail in the United States at the last moment by an extraordinary change of situation where the person the District Attorney in Miami pursing him was forced to resign and he was freed, a result which I had been praying for for months…
This sort of surprising thing may have happpened to you too when you have prayed for relief from some kind of crisis.
When this sort of thing occurs, it’s no good saying ‘Well that was lucky’ or ‘I was so clever’ ‘or he should never have been charged in the first place’, ‘Or how wonderful am I that I found the strength to get over that huge obstacle….’ or, in the case of the wedding at Cana, ‘wasn’t the host clever to find some really good wine at the last moment….just as the wedding party was running out…!’
The answers to prayer are the mini-miracles of everyday life
The answers to prayer are the mini-miracles of everyday life
They are signs that the Kingdom of God has drawn near
They are the signs that God loves us
They are opportunities for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven .
We must not miss them….our response needs to be to repent, to believe and to become Jesus’ disciples
The Wedding at Cana
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him