SERMON FOR THIS WEEK
Commit It and Forget It
John 2:1-11
Rev. Kenneth A. Greenwald

Ron Popeil is famous for his many inventions. He and his company, Ronco, have given us the Popeil's Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, and the Veg-O-Matic. But one of his best inventions was his rotisserie oven. Along with that invention, he made a wonderful infomercial that gave us the famous slogan "Set it and forget it!" You put the food in. You set the oven. You walk away. No muss. No fuss. Set it and forget it.

In this text, Mary reminds us to do the same. She comes to Jesus and asks for help. Although his reply sounds rather harsh, Mary is not dismayed. Mary had confidence in Jesus. She knew that he would take care of the situation, not because she asked but because he is gracious. Mary knew that the situation was saved when it was committed to Jesus. Mary knew that we can commit our troubles to Jesus, knowing he will take care of them. We can commit it and forget it.

Rev. Kenneth A. Greenwald
The situation confronting Jesus was pretty simple. He was at a wedding, and they ran out of wine. At the least, this would have been a very embarrassing, maybe even humiliating situation. Leon Morris, in his commentary, points out that the stigma from this situation would last for some time and could even result in a lawsuit. So the problem had to be dealt with.

Mary apparently knew the family because she came to Jesus with the problem. She told him, "They have no wine" (v 3). I often wonder what Mary expected Jesus to do about this situation. Did she want him to send his disciples out to buy more wine? Was she just telling him because she felt bad for the couple? What, if anything, did Mary want Jesus to do about it? What was she expecting? John tells us that this was Jesus' first "sign." It's not like Jesus was known as someone who did miracles growing up. Luke 2 says that Jesus grew up like any other child and was obedient to his parents. When Jesus went to Nazareth in Mark 6, the people wondered when he had received the power to do miracles, for he hadn't evidenced any miracle power before. So why tell Jesus about this couple being out of wine?

I don't know what she wanted him to do or what she expected him to do, but his response had to be disappointing. "Woman," he said, "what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come" (v 4). "Woman" sounds a lot harsher to our ears than it would have to Mary's, but it's hardly endearing. If anything, it is extremely formal if polite. The rest of Jesus' answer points out that he had a different interest and a different purpose in mind than she did. He definitely wanted her to know that their relationship was no longer that of mother and son; it was now that of Lord and disciple.

Which brings us to one of the greatest non sequiturs in the Bible. A non sequitur is a statement, conclusion, or reply that has nothing to do with the previous statement or one that doesn't quite fit. Like two puzzle pieces that don't go together, it's a reply that doesn't fit the question or an action that doesn't go with what happened before.

Mary comes to Jesus with the news that the family is out of wine. Jesus tells her that his hour has not yet come. He makes it clear that this isn't his issue. You would think that Mary would walk away, perhaps a bit disappointed, but trying to figure out a way around this situation. But she doesn't. Instead she tells the servants, "Do whatever he tells you" (v 5). Considering what Jesus had just said to Mary, what would make her think he would tell them anything? Her actions just don't follow from what Jesus just said. It seems like a huge non sequitur.

Despite Jesus' rather cold response, Mary had faith in her Son. Going to the servants, she tells them to do whatever Jesus says. Mary had incredible faith in her Son. Even though Jesus had seemingly rebuffed Mary, she knew that he would answer her request. She committed the situation to Jesus, and she knew that he would take care of it.

Mary's faith was rewarded. Jesus not only took care of the situation, but he did so with gusto. Filling six jars with 180 gallons of water, Jesus changed it into wine. And this was no cheap box of Franzia; this was an excellent wine, the best wine. Jesus gave the couple a gift of extreme value, and if there happened to be any left following the wedding, they could sell it and have a good financial cushion to begin their married life.

Have you ever felt like Mary? You cry out to God, but it seems as if he isn't listening or helping? Have you ever felt as if your prayers are going as far as the ceiling in the room and they're getting stuck there? That's a pretty common feeling. In Psalm 6, David says that he is in great anguish and is flooding his bed with tears. He cries out, "But you, O Lord-how long?" (Ps 6:3). The disciples were scared to death in a storm at sea while Jesus was in the boat sleeping. They cried out, "Lord, don't you care if we drown?" St. Paul prayed to the Lord three times to take away his thorn in the flesh, but the Lord refused. We all have times when we cry to the Lord for relief, but it just seems as if God doesn't answer. Indeed, there are times when we feel like Mary: we've made a request to God but have been rebuffed. (Here give concrete examples of troubles your hearers might bring to the Lord and not see his immediate response.)

The reality is that God hears our prayers and he answers them. We can commit our problems to Jesus, knowing that he will take care of them. David knew that. In Psalm 6, right after he complains about his terrible weeping, he says, "The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer" (Ps 6:9). It didn't look as if God was answering his prayer, but David knew he would.

It might not be in the way we hope or expect, but he will do it. Look at Mary: do you think she expected Jesus to create water from wine? I think Jesus' response took her by surprise. When the disciples cried out to Jesus for help, did they expect him to quiet the sea? I don't think so. They were astonished at what he did. I'm sure Paul didn't expect the answer he received, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9). Yet that answer allowed him to rejoice in his sufferings and hardships.

We can commit our situations to Jesus knowing he will answer them. How do we know? Because of his hour. Jesus' "hour" is his time of suffering. Now this, at the wedding of Cana in Galilee, is not his hour. But in John 12, when the Greeks come to meet Jesus, he says, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (12:23). Jesus' hour is his Passion and his cross.

The cross of Jesus is his promise and guarantee that he will hear and answer our prayers. He has borne our sin. He has borne our punishment. He died in our place. He rose again for us. He has made us his own. He did all of that even though we do not deserve a bit of it.

Given all that Christ has done for us, does it make any sense that he would ignore our pleas now? No. As Paul points out in Rom 8:32, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Christ is the promise and the guarantee that God will hear our prayer. His death and resurrection allow us to commit our cares to him knowing that he will take care of them. (Return to each of the examples you gave earlier and assure hearers in each case that because Jesus' cross has reconciled God to us, he is caring for them.)

My wife's favorite appliance is her slow cooker. She puts in all the ingredients for a good soup, then she turns it on and walks away. When we get home in the evening, the meal is ready to go. She sets it and forgets it.

Jesus calls us to do the same. We have many cares and worries in life. Most of them are beyond our control. Mary was worried about this family, but she knew there was nothing she could do. She committed the situation to Jesus. She asked him to take care of it. Even though his answer seemed harsh, she had confidence in the grace of her Lord. She committed the situation to him, knowing he would take care of it.

Commit your cares and worries to the Lord. He will take care of them. He gave his life for you. He rose from the dead. He has baptized you in his name. You are his. He will take care of you. Amen.

Synod President Responds to SCOTUS Same-sex Marriage Ruling
June 2015
A one-person majority of the U.S. Supreme Court got it wrong - again. Some 40 years ago, a similarly activist court legalized the killing of children in the womb. That decision has to date left a wake of some 55 million Americans dead. Today, the Court has imposed same-sex marriage upon the whole nation in a similar fashion. Five justices cannot determine natural or divine law. Now shall come the time of testing for Christians faithful to the Scriptures and the divine institution of marriage (Matthew 19:3-6), and indeed, a time of testing much more intense than what followed Roe v. Wade.

Like Roe v. Wade, this decision will be followed by a rash of lawsuits. Through coercive litigation, governments and popular culture continue to make the central post-modern value of sexual freedom override "the free exercise of religion" enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

The ramifications of this decision are seismic. Proponents will seek to drive Christians and Christian institutions out of education at all levels; they will press laws to force faithful Christian institutions and individuals to violate consciences in work practices and myriad other ways. We will have much more to say about this.
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