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The Glory of God in Marriage

January 15, 2023; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz, Pastor
Epiphany 2 C. waterwine.jpg

The Glory of God in Marriage

 

Rev. Kurt Lantz 2 Epiphany John 2:1-11

January 15, 2023 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON

 

 

Dear people known by the LORD who have found favour in His sight,

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

God created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26), so it is not surprising that there are many aspects of our lives that reflect the glory of God even though we are so corrupted by sin (Genesis 2:17). St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us not only that marriage ought to reveal to us the mystery of God’s love for the church in Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33), but also how very far we fall short of His perfect sacrificial love. Marriage is a holy vocation, a calling from God who first declared in the Garden of Eden that “It is not good that the man should be alone... Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:18, 24).

 

Marriage is a holy institution of God Himself, but that doesn’t make it easy. It is, in fact, a hard target of Satan, not only in order to disrupt the blessing of God upon married couples, but also to distort the revelation of God that is given in marriage. Our own sins and the failures that we are tempted to see in our spouses, cause us also to doubt the love and faithfulness of God who has pledged Himself to us. In this and all of our vocations we need the presence of God. We need to have His forgiveness, His love, His blessing, His glory if we are going to be able to carry out the holy vocations He has given to us.

 

Moses confronted God about this when he was called to lead the people of Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land. He knew it was a calling beyond his own capabilities and not just to navigate through the waste places and to provide food for the hundreds of thousands. Similarly, the difficulties in marriage are not only about navigating the way to a comfortable retirement and paying for the groceries. Moses asked the LORD whom He would send with them, and if He would not send anyone, then Moses wouldn’t agree to lead them (Exodus 33:12, 15). Moses knew he couldn’t handle this people on his own. He had just caught them in bed with the golden calf idol they had made while Moses was on Mount Sinai talking to the LORD (Exodus 32).

 

If we are to fulfill our high and holy callings in marriage and the other vocations God has given to us, we need His presence to accompany us, to lead us, to guide us, to carry us. We need His forgiveness for our sins. We need His blessing to shore up our failures. We need His glory to dispel our corruption. Holy vocations require God to go with us and we need to know of His presence as we go.

 

There are great and tremendous things to be accomplished. There are dangers and pitfalls and enemies along the way. And we are to conduct ourselves in such a manner that the unbelieving world will be drawn to the God and Saviour that we confess. It was not cheeky of Moses to demand that God send along an escort or forget the whole thing. We also ought to demand of God that He accompany us in these holy vocations, for the callings are too great, the dangers too perilous, the people involved too sinful. If God is not going to accompany us with His grace and glory, then He cannot expect us to carry out the tasks successfully.

 

Perhaps the wedded couple was totally unaware. They may have been too busy looking into each other’s eyes, responding to the clinking of the glasses, giving toasts and speeches, and personally greeting all of their guests. Word was beginning to spread, however, and Jesus’ mother had heard of the embarrassing problem. They were out of wine to gladden the hearts of their guests (John 2:1-11). Jesus didn’t even let His mother know that He was on the case. She just had faith that He would act, and He did with such miraculous and abundant blessing that it has been recorded even to this day as the first public sign of His divine nature.

 

Six stone jars holding twenty to thirty gallons of water, which Jesus turned into the best wine, show that He is the LORD of all creation. And as at Creation the LORD blessed the marriage of Adam and Eve, so He was present in Cana of Galilee to bless the newly married couple there and to assure all of us that He is present to bless everyone who enters into marriage seeking to fulfill their divine vocations as husband and wife in order to reveal Jesus to the world.

 

We might like for Jesus to bless our homes with a full wine cellar, or some other show of prosperity and abundance that would really impress the neighbours. In reality His blessings go rather unnoticed most of the time as we are busy eating and drinking and making merry. As we are occupied by the various callings of husband, wife, father, mother, child (not so much tinkling glasses and raising toast, but living richer, poorer, in sickness and in health), the LORD grants His blessing primarily by forgiving our sins against one another.

 

Moses thought that seeing God’s glory would enable him to carry out his vocation to lead God’s people, but it would have destroyed him. The LORD told him plainly, “Man shall not see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). No one corrupted by sin can stand in the presence of God’s holiness to see His unveiled glory. The sin would be destroyed and the corrupted sinner with it. In mercy and grace God granted that Moses would be protected to see His glory, and He covered Moses with His hand and passed by so that Moses could see the glory of the back side of God.

 

Yet, this merciful granting of Moses’ wish in seeing God’s back came after the LORD’s promise that His face would go with the people to the Promised Land—the face of God concealed in cloud and fire; the face of God which brought water from the rock and bread from heaven; the face of God which brought wine from water for a newly married couple in the town of Cana. Perhaps the couple there would rather that Jesus provided an estate with a vineyard, or at least not performed His miracle in the kitchens with the servants, but out in the hall in front of all the honoured guests.

 

Jesus is the very face of God who gives us what we need in grace so that we might fulfill our holy vocations and His glory would not just obliterate us in our sins. And in bestowing His grace upon us, it is revealed to the world through us as He provides forgiveness, mercy, and blessing in our daily duties. He protects us from the kind of prosperity that would cause us harm. He shields us with His hand so that we might see the glory of His presence in our lives without being destroyed by His unveiled holiness.

 

He shields us with the hands of Jesus. Hands which have holes in them so that we might see through to behold His true glory. Those hands pierced by nails bestow the blessing of the forgiveness for which He went to the cross for us. Through those holes we see the glory of God shining from His loving heart. He reveals to us His bounteous blessing. When we consider the gravity of our sins in the various vocations God has given to us, we see that there is no greater way in which He could bless us with His presence than with the abundant mercy He pours out to forgive our transgressions in Christ Jesus.

 

The blessing of the wine at the wedding in Cana was of no lasting use if they could not see the face of God reflected in it. As we lift the chalice to our lips in Holy Communion, we see the glory of God reflected on its surface in the crucified Christ. He turned water into wine for one newly married couple. He turns wine into His blood for all who seek His forgiveness for the sins they have committed in their holy callings. The glory of God is present there in the face of Jesus and we see it through His nail pierced hands.

 

The LORD revealed the glory of His back to Moses so that he would know that the face of God went with His people through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Moses needed to know that because he had seen the grave sins of idolatry with the golden calf, and he also knew of his own incompetence for the job ahead. What else could save the people from their own complaints, rebellions, and faithlessness? What else could save us from ours?

 

The face of God goes with us on our journeys. It is enveloped in the water of baptism, ensconced in bread and solvent in wine. It permeates the voice of lectors and liturgists, preachers and pastors as they carry out the offices entrusted to them. We have the promises of Jesus revealing Himself in these means which He has instituted to be present in our lives.

 

To those who do not see the glory of God in these instituted means of Word and Sacrament, He reveals His glory through our lives. They see how we live in faith as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children. They see how we look for forgiveness and are forgiven; how we face adversity with the knowledge of the presence of the LORD; how we journey to our Promised Land of heaven overcoming our own rebellion and faithlessness with His unwavering faithfulness and steadfast love. The face of God goes with us and shines upon us His grace.

 

 

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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