There’s Still Hope for You!”
January 16, 2022
Scripture Reading: Colossians 2:13-15; Luke 17:10
Additional Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” [Revelation 22:21]
If you ask just about anyone who knows this miracle, most will likely say that the main characters are Jesus and Mary and the Master of the Banquet. Jesus, of course, changed water into wine. Mary set Him up to do it. And the Master of the Banquet tasted the wine and questioned the bridegroom about saving the best for last.
But when was the last time you thought about the jars? Or the servants?
I bet you never have.
But think again. If it wasn’t for the empty jars, there would have been no containers to hold the water-turned-into-wine. And if it wasn’t for the servants, the water wouldn’t have been in the empty containers and the water-turned-into-wine wouldn’t have been brought to the Master of the Banquet. And the miracle probably wouldn’t have been a miracle – at least not how we know it.
Both the jars and the servants are vital to this, Jesus’ first miracle. But both are often overlooked, I believe, because they are not independent characters. The jars are passive. They just receive the water. The servants just do as they’re told – they fill up the jars with water and bring samples to the Master of the Banquet.
Reading this account from John’s Gospel many times, I’ve honestly overlooked the jars and the servants, too. But, in preparing for today, I read the assigned Second Reading from 1 Corinthians 12 immediately before reading John 2 and I had an “AHA!” moment. These two often overlooked characters in today’s miracle can really represent us.
We can sometimes feel pretty empty – useless – even discarded. The jars had already served their purpose for the wedding. They had provided the water necessary for cleansing prior to the banquet. They had probably been pushed out of the way – maybe even shoved into a corner. But Jesus found a use for them. A use that was familiar and yet different and spectacular and miraculous. Jesus made the empty jars the stars of the show!
And we can sometimes feel unappreciated, like the servants. “Hey! You! Do this!” We can resent that. We want to be more important than that. But here, the least truly became the greatest [Luke 9:48; Matthew 23:11; Matthew 19:30] because the servants are the only ones who know what has just happened, from beginning to end. Jesus made the servants the stars of the show!
Many years ago (35+), there was a popular song in contemporary Christian music. It was called “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” It was about an auction. At the very end of the auction, all that was left was a dusty old violin. The auctioneer held it up. He wasn’t hopeful. “Who will give me one dollar? Two dollars? Three?” Just then a man walked forward from the back. He asked the auctioneer to see the violin and the bow. He proceeded to play the most beautiful song anyone had ever heard. He handed the violin back to the auctioneer and sat down, with a smile on his face. And the auctioneer continued. “Let’s start this again! Who will give me a thousand? Two thousand? Three?” The touch of the Master’s Hand.
The Master was there that day in Cana. The Master saw a use for old jars. The Master chose to entrust the secrets of the miracle to lowly servants who never got included in anything.
This weekend, we honor the life and the legacy of a man who was similarly touched by the Master’s Hand – The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
But we also celebrate the gifts that God’s Holy Spirit brings to the Church and to each of us as followers of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus, working through His Holy Spirit, is the superstar character. We’re simply disposable servants ... UNTIL God chooses to use us, pouring His Holy Spirit into us through Word and Sacrament, filling us to the brim, giving us a fantastic story to tell.
There was seemingly no hope for that old violin. There was seemingly no hope for those used jars. There was seemingly no value in those servants. Until touched and used by the Master.
And that means there’s still hope for you and for me in the Master’s Hands!
Closing Prayer – “Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.”
Grace and peace to you!
Pastor Christopher Schaar