The Second Sunday after Epiphany: God Establishes and Blesses Marriage

Wedding at Cana
At the direction of Mary, Jesus performs His first miracle, changing water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11). From a book by Martin Luther interpreting the Epistles and Gospels, 1530.

Lessons: Amos 9:11-15, Romans 12:6-16, John 2:1-11
Hymns: LSB 394, 402, 839, 408, 398

Listen to the entire service here (the sermon alone is above).

      Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

      Can you think of a time or a place where Satan would want to steer clear, where he would want to stop wreaking havoc, where he would rather leave something or someone alone?

      Satan did not want to stop his destructive work when Jesus was born. He influenced Herod to kill all the baby boys in and around Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the newborn King. Satan did not avoid Jesus when our Lord was at the Temple; instead, the master of lies convinced some of the Jews to believe that Jesus was a Samaritan who had a demon and the crowd picked up stones to throw at our Savior. Satan did not stay away when Jesus was transfigured on the mount, for the deceiver led Peter to say that Jesus should stay on the mountain with Moses and Elijah in tents that could be built for them, which would keep Jesus from accomplishing His passion.

      Even when Jesus was present at a wedding, Satan did not want to stop wrecking things. In a perfect world, they would not have run out of wine at the wedding feast. But in a fallen world, some will drink too much, supplies may run out, and a whole host of other things could go wrong. In the wedding at Cana, they ran out of wine. This was embarrassing to the couple. Satan was trying to wreak havoc yet again to ruin the marriage of newlyweds—even though Jesus was present.

      God instituted marriage in Paradise when He joined Adam and Eve together in holy matrimony. What God established is good. A man and a woman are joined together for a lifelong union so that couples couples would love one another, complement one another, and raise children in a good environment. Marriage provides security for couples and their children, serves as a prophylactic against sexual impurity, and allows each individual to give himself or herself to another person. Many things can and do go wrong in marriages in this fallen world, but as the wedding at Cana indicates, Christ Jesus is present and will come to help in time of need.

      Even though Jesus did not marry a woman while walking the face of the Earth, He still serves as a model for marriage. First, Jesus teaches what marriage is. In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus taught us, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh.” We don’t learn from rebellious man what marriage is, but we learn from God. Marriage is not a union between any two who are obsessed over each other. Instead, marriage is a union between one man and one woman who are to love each other unconditionally. This means love is far more than a lustful feeling or a romantic desire or an obsessive infatuation. Love is more than a feeling. It is a giving of the self to the spouse. It is forgiving each other. It is covering for the other person.

      You see, the Scriptures teach us what marriage is through Christ who not only describes marriage but lives out a type of union. For Christ Jesus has wed Himself to His bride and gave Himself up for her. He loves her unconditionally, forgives her, and covers for her. He died for her that He may sanctify her as spotless. In doing so, Christ presents His bride before our Father as holy and without blemish. “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:32). This mystery is that Jesus is wed to His bride, the Christian Church. We are joined to Him. He is our Head, we are His Body, and He is our Savior. We submit to Him, for He has taken upon Himself the responsibility of our sin to redeem us by the way of the cross, to cleanse us of all unrighteousness, and to sanctify us that we may be presented as spotless. Because Jesus fulfills this responsibility on our behalf, we submit ourselves to Him. In fact, our submission to Christ is pure joy, for He unconditionally loves us, laid down His life for us, and gives us as our inheritance everything that belongs to Him.

      What Jesus has done for our redemption then serves as the model for marriage. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loves His bride the Church. A wife is to respect her husband as the Church respects Christ. The Church submits to Christ because of what He has done, and wives are to submit to their husbands because of what they are to do in sacrificial love for their wives (Eph. 5:21-33). This beautiful picture of marriage also reveals the Christological character of marriage. Marriage is not an invention of man. It is a divine institution reflecting Christ and His Bride the Church. The attempt of our society to redefine marriage is futile. Satan may think he’s having a heyday. But God will judge accordingly.

      Many wonder how we got to this point in society. Many feel blindsided by this sudden shift, not only in redefining marriage, but redefining what it means to be male or female. But this is the logical conclusion to the sexual revolution of the 1960s where it no longer remained important to reserve sexual relations for the marriage bed. Then in the 1970s came no fault divorce laws, further diminishing God’s design for marriage. During that same time, children began to be viewed as a nice extra instead of a heritage given from the Lord and a blessing from God (Psalm 127:1-5). Couples have worked hard to prevent receiving what God desires to give. Once marriage is reduced to an afterthought with couples cohabiting first then marrying, and the lifelong commitment of couples in marriage can now be ended by one person over any superfluous reason, and the blessing of children are removed from the family make-up, then marriage is no longer treasured, revered, desired, or respected. That then paves the way for marriage to become anything anyone wants it to be. Satan is loving it. He’s loving the destruction he has brought about. May God grant repentance to all who have been deceived, that they may see clearly what marriage is and rejoice in the union God creates.

      Let’s face it. All divorce is sinful. Man is not supposed tear apart what God has joined together. Yes, Jesus allowed divorce when sexual immorality is involved (Matt. 19:6) and the Holy Spirit guided St. Paul to also add desertion as a reason for divorce (1 Cor. 7:15). When the marriage vows are transgressed, forgiveness should be the first aim, not divorce. And like all sin, divorce is forgivable. Jesus does not divorce Himself from those who are divorced. He still covers for them, forgives them, sanctifies them, and presents them as spotless as His bride. Knowing that this forgiveness is attainable should not cause us to freely disobey God on these matters so that we can have what our sinful flesh desires.

      The good things God creates, Satan tries to destroy. And so, we do as the couple did when they got married at Cana. They invited Jesus to be at their wedding. In the same way, we seek Jesus as our refuge and strength—our ever-present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). We cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-11). With confidence, we approach His throne of “grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).

      Jesus attended the wedding at Cana. Jesus is known as Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” The same Jesus comes into our presence through His Word and Sacrament. He is present to bless. He feeds us of Himself so that we can be strengthened and forgiven. In fact, Satan is repelled by the all-powerful Word of God.

      Jesus turned water into wine at Cana. Both water and wine remind us of the sacraments He instituted. In Holy Baptism, Jesus comes into our presence and covers us with His very righteousness. In Holy Communion, we eat the Body and drink the Blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins as we receive the bread and wine. Only God can turn plain and simple water into wine like He did at Cana. And only God can present Himself to Christians through the sacramental union in His Supper.

      Our Lord’s presence at the wedding at Cana is a model for Christian weddings and Christian marriages. Wedding day should not be devoid of Christ. Weddings for Christian couples should be performed by properly called and ordained pastors and these weddings should be done in God’s house where Jesus most clearly locates Himself. The Christian confession of the two getting married should be the same. They should work out differences in beliefs prior to marriage by searching the Scriptures and receiving instruction from a faithful pastor.

      Because Satan is seeking to destroy, many troubles arise even in Christian homes. The Devil will try to isolate couples so that they do not seek help. But remember the Bible says a threefold cord is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Think of a man and a woman as two of those cords. Then add Jesus as the third. He makes a marriage strong when He is a part of the marriage, just as He was at Cana. Jesus does His work today through His Church. He established the ministry so couples can be strengthened through God’s Word and learn to be forgiving of one another.

      You see, Jesus is present to help and bless—and does so abundantly. He made the best wine at Cana even when He did not need to. How much more will He work to bless marriages when they need His counsel and aid?  We give thanks to God that He has not left us alone in this fallen world to figure things out ourselves. But He has come to teach, bless, strengthen, counsel, and forgive. Amen.

      The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen