Don’t Settle for Boxed Wine: A Wedding Sermon

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.

      –John 2:1-11

Have you ever wondered if Jesus was really like you? I can put that curiosity to rest.

If you noticed, early on, Jesus is invited to a wedding. Just as you were invited to a wedding. Which is surprising because Jesus probably wouldn’t be too high up on many wedding guest lists.

Jesus has been characterized as a stiff upper lipped always downcast and praying, downright curmudgeon. Not the kind of person you want at a wedding.

But for whatever reason, the bride and groom didn’t get the memo.

And they didn’t just invite Jesus, they invited all his disciples, too.

A whole gang of holy people—prudes—at a party.

We don’t get any details of the ceremony or what the rabbi said, the action jumps straight to the reception, the party.

And wine gives out. Nothing worse at a party than when the booze runs out. But for Jesus and the prudish disciples it should be cause for celebration, right?

Jesus’ mother puts that to rest with a quick, “Hey Jesus, they don’t have any wine.” To which Jesus responds, “So what? Not my problem.”

Jesus gives the haters what they wanted, the wine ran out and he ain’t got time for that. Let’s all go to the temple and pray.

But Jesus’ mother forces his hand, she tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to.

Off to the side there were six jugs, each could hold 20 or 30 gallons. The servants follow Jesus’ direction—they filled the jugs up to the brim–and fill them up with water and then take them out to the head of the feast.

Somewhere in the trek from the kitchen to the banquet table, water becomes wine, and a whole lot of it.

Those six jugs would fill up roughly 750 modern wine bottles. That’s a low end estimate. We’re talking a ton of wine. Everyone here could drink two bottles tonight and take one for the road, with some left over.

But it’s not about quantity, right? Quality is king.

So, when the head of the feast tastes the wine, he’s shocked. It’s near the end of the seven day feast, the wine ran out. He’s expecting Yellow Tail or Franzia in this new stash, but he’s pleasantly surprised.

“Everybody serves the good wine first, and brings out the box wine after people get a little loose and conversational, but you waited until the end to bring out the best wine.”

He’s shocked.

wedding at Cana

Wedding at Cana

John tells us that this is the first sign Jesus did, and his disciples believed in him.

It’s not a miracle, it’s a sign. In John, Jesus does these “signs,” but the sign isn’t the point. Driving down the road you see all kinds of signs, but signs aren’t your destination, they point you toward it. The same is true in John’s depiction of Jesus.

The water into wine is great, imagine being at that party, but it’s not the end. The sign points to Jesus, the one who brings joy and surprise out of a hopeless place—I mean, the wine ran out, after all.

Jesus’ first sign wasn’t feeding the homeless or healing the sick, or preaching an epic sermon. His first sign was one of joy and celebration and pure abundance. Over abundance, more than enough. And it was at a wedding. And it was a complete surprise to the wedding guests.

Which brings us to Kelly and Matt, I know, you thought I’d never get there. Today is a day for celebration of this union, for joy and laughter, and partying. But it’s kind of a surprise that we’re all here right now.

Think about it, Kelly was probably surprised to meet a strapping young buck like Matt on vacation in Ft. Lauderdale. Probably even more surprised to find out he was an FBI agent, and to move to Washington, D.C.

And Matt, he was probably surprised to find a beautiful blonde from Kansas in Ft. Lauderdale. He was probably even more surprised to find himself moving to Kansas.

Matt and Kelly were in Ft. Lauderdale expecting Franzia, but they found a vintage bottle of Chateau-neuf du pape.

And today, we’re uncorking that bottle.

I’m not the kind of guy who thinks every thing happens for a reason, but I do think God’s work of bringing joy and abundance in life isn’t over. This wedding is a testament to that.

I think the problem is, we don’t expect a surprise. We don’t look for the ways God is calling us to something better. We don’t just expect franzia, we settle for it.

This wedding and these vows, promises to each other of life together, are a surprise to a world that can’t hold its attention on anything for more than a few minutes.

But the good news is, you don’t have to do it on your own. This community of people have committed to expect more with you, to keep you from settling for less than abundance.

When you forget the joy of this day, and you will, they’ll be there to remind you. Not just of the joy, but of the One who is the source of that joy and abundance, of life to the full. The One who is known as love, and who gives love freely with hopes that we would share it extravagantly.

And in those moments when you’re tempted to forget or settle, remember Jesus saves the best wine for last, when you run out of hope or love, he’s got a cellar filled up and ready for you.

Jesus doesn’t hoard it, but shares it abundantly.

Whatever you’ve settled for or given up, we have in Christ, the example of God’s extravagant love for the world. He didn’t stand far off but became one of us, that all might enter into the abundance of life he came to bring. Life to the full.

One image of heaven is a wedding feast, so tonight may be as close as you can get to heaven on earth.

Kelly and Matt, your wedding is a foretaste of that great wedding feast. The love you share is a sign of God’s love for you an everyone gathered here. May you carry that love and expect surprising abundance from now until we feast at that heavenly banquet.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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