Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Epiphany II (January 17, 2010)
John 2:1-11; Ephesians 5
TITLE: “Jesus Came to the Marriage”
Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is from the Gospel just read, Jesus comes to the marriage.
St. Paul in our epistle talks quite a bit about husband and wives, and how we are to relate to one another. He uses all sorts of peculiar language like submit and love and sanctify and headship all sorts of things. After talking about how the husband is a picture of Christ and the wife is a picture or image of the Church, Paul goes on to quote Genesis two about how a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and that the two shall become one flesh. Paul then makes a beautiful statement:
“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32 ESV)
Now I will be the first to admit that the mystery of Christ’s love to the church is profound, but I don’t think we should pass over the lesser mystery so quickly, because it will lead us into this great mystery. The mystery of which I speak is the mystery of husband and wife, or if you prefer, the mystery of the family.
Families are mysterious. By that I mean if you are looking at a family from the outside, you will probably never completely get to the bottom of what that family is all about. There are layers we just can’t see from the outside. Gunk. Beauty. Joyful moments. Days of deep sadness. Days when you can hardly get everyone together. Days when you can hardly stand to be apart. There are days when it hardly seems like any two members of the family can stand to talk to each other. Families are a great mystery.
Think for a moment about the most famous families in the Scriptures. Adam and Eve. Pristine, primeval, and messed up from near the beginning. They fought. Their oldest son killed their second son. What a mess.
Or think of Jacob. Let’s see. He had two wives and children from two of his servants. So you had a blended family with sons and daughters from four different women. They all lived under the same roof, too. Several of the sons sell the second youngest into slavery, after they decide not to kill him. Yeah, great role model family.
Or how about David? He had children by his wife, then he takes another man’s wife, murders him, marries the second woman, and has children by her as well. They struggle and fight their whole lives long, and one of David’s sons tried to have him killed so that he could take over the throne.
That’s just three examples from the Bible, but we could come up with many more. Abraham and Sarah. Isaac and Rebekah. Judah and Tamar. Even the holy family did not start out in the most glorious of beginnings.
Of course, our own families are really no better. How many of you have dark secrets in your household that you really hope don’t get out? Hidden sadness, anger, bickering and fighting between children and parents, husband and wife. Of course, this bickering and fighting isn’t limited to those who live under the same roof. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it can also lead to misunderstandings and a whole host of other trials and troubles in our lives.
The sad reality is that our families are a mess. We love each other. We sacrifice for each other all the time. But it is chaotic at best, that’s for sure. I can certainly understand and relate to our collect this morning, where we ask that God would grant us peace through all our days. Peace at home is a treasure that is sadly more rare than we would like to admit.
Of course, there are also other ways that we can talk about the family. St. Paul says that the Church is a family. We are talking about the mystery of Christ and the Church. We, here sitting together, are a family. We love one another, but don’t always like each other. We judge one another, compete with each other, and look down the nose at the other members of the family who don’t seem to be pulling their weight, doing their part of the work.
So what are we to do? Our families are broken and confused, our church is troubled inside and out. What is the missing piece of this puzzle? How do we unravel the mystery of Christ and the Church?
A part of what God gives to you this day is that He frees you from the need to understand everything. It’s a mystery! Let it be as God would have it. How God holds families together is His holy work. That doesn’t let us off the hook, but it does free us from thinking we have to figure everything out. Jesus came to the marriage for that couple in Cana. He came. That’s the mystery.
In the middle of all of the chaos of our lives, Jesus enters into our family. He blesses us with His gracious presence. He brings divine food and drink to this marriage in His own body and blood. He enters in, and He makes things anew. That doesn’t mean we see all of the changes now. In fact, we won’t. But Jesus’ coming changes everything.
This is true for earthly families, but this is all the more true for Christ’s Bride, the holy Christian Church. Jesus gives up everything for us. He loves us as He loves Himself. He draws us into His holy embrace, and promises that he will never leave us nor forsake us.
God cares for you completely, utterly, and without holding anything back. He gives you the peace that passes all understanding, by suffering the violence of the cross for you. That is His love for you, His Bride.
Every family is a mystery. But God’s mercy shines through all of our messes and enlightens every dark corner with His love. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.