Marriage, Faith, Good Wine

Biblical Text: John 2:1-11

Preaching on John is always interesting. The wedding at Cana is one of those texts that you just can’t drain it all. 180 gallons of good wine will do that. This sermon has three movements. The first is doctrinal. The wedding at Cana reminds us how much God loves and blesses marriage. The second is personal. Mary is the picture of Faith. The interaction of Jesus and his mother is a picture of the test of faith. And what God gives through that test. The last movement is what the church used to call a spiritual or mystical reading. Why six stone jars, why water to brim, and what about the wine? This one goes in the keeper file.

When God Enters the Temple

Biblical Text: John 2:13-22
Full Sermon Draft

We are often pretty good at realizing when something that shouldn’t be at the center of our life is, and when something that should be isn’t. We just aren’t that good at changing. That is part of the message of the Cleansing of the Temple which the evangelist John makes the theme of the ministry of Jesus. We are not good at centering the right things, but Jesus has come to cleanse us and to keep us centered. The Temple was supposed to be at the center of the life of Israel, and of course it was a “true myth” in Lewis’ terms. God really was in the temple at the center of Israel. But we are very good as creating distance and de-centering the things that should be there. Jesus cleansed that temple and pronounced the new one. The temple of the new covenant would not be made of stone, but of living stones. The cornerstone which would be Christ. This sermon thinks through what it means when God comes to the temple – both old and new.

Remembrance – The Scriptures and the Word

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Biblical Text: John 2:13-22
Full Sermon Text

I used the title remembrance because that is the word John uses twice in the text to help explain it. John has yanked an event out of time, an event from Holy Week, and put it at the start of his gospel. He’s done this because the spiritual importance to him, what he wants to get across to us, he’s only seen in remembrance. And his importance is different than that attached to the event by the other gospels.

The event is the cleansing of the temple. To the other gospel writers this event is the action of the returning king, even if it is drenched in irony as in Mark. To John, in remembrance, this is the start of the sacrifice. This is where Jesus starts to clean the temple. But the temple is not one of stones. It is one of flesh. Jesus chases the animals out, because he becomes the offering.

The two pieces of music I’ve left in here pick up on that theme. The choir sings “What Wondrous Love” which is a gorgeous meditation on that sacrifice. And I’ve left in the hymn we sang after the sermon, LSB 431 Not All the Blood of Beasts which contemplates exactly that exchange. “A sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they.”