“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” John 2:11 (Read John 2:1-11)

Jesus’ presence at a wedding feast in Cana and His turning water into wine has troubled some, especially those who are teetotallers for “religious” reasons. “Why would Jesus attend a wedding feast where wine was served,” some wonder? “And why would Jesus turn water into wine, making some 120-180 gallons of it for the wedding guests to drink?”

Jesus’ presence at this wedding — and we do not know precisely why He was invited — shows His respect for the divine institution of marriage between a man and a woman (cf. Gen. 2:18ff., Matt. 19:4-9). And His making wine, as well as drinking it, shows that drinking wine or alcoholic beverages is not of itself sinful, nor is one holier or more righteous through abstinence. What is sinful is the overindulgence in it and drunkenness.

St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Tim. 5:23); and he wrote to the Ephesians, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18; cf. Matt. 11:18-19; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:19-21).

But far more important in this account is what His miracle teaches us about Jesus. Even though it was not yet His time to be revealed as the Son of God in human flesh and the Messiah and Savior of the world, Jesus used the divine power He possessed to come to the aid of a wedding party in a potentially embarrassing situation — they had run out of wine. And not only did Jesus turn water into wine; it was the best wine served at the feast.

And this miracle, of which many at the feast had no knowledge, revealed the glory and power which Jesus possessed as the Son of God to a few — to Mary, to the servants who drew the water, and to Jesus’ disciples.

The result was not only a wedding feast without the embarrassment to the hosts of running out of wine; it was a revelation of His person to His disciples, causing them to believe that He indeed was and is the Son of God and the promised Messiah and Savior of Israel.

The Apostle John, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, records this miracle for us that we too might see and believe that this same Jesus who humbled Himself and lived among us as a true man is more than just a man or even a great prophet and teacher. Jesus was and is Jehovah God Himself in human flesh! And this was necessary in order for Him to pay the price required for the sins of the world!

This miracle is but one proof of that fact. He also healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, fed the multitudes, raised the dead, and rose from the dead Himself after being crucified!

Through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit reveals to us Jesus’ divine glory and might; and through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit reveals to us that Jesus redeemed us and all mankind from sin and death by His own innocent sufferings and death in our stead. Jesus’ resurrection is proof that atonement for our sins has been made — we’ve been redeemed by the blood of “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)!

And, through faith in Christ Jesus, God the Son and our Savior, the forgiveness and life He won for all when He paid the price for our sins upon the cross becomes our own. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins and life everlasting!

Oh, that all would see and believe that Jesus is God the Son and that He has paid the price and redeemed us from all our sins!

I cannot reveal Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world to anyone. All I can do is preach the Gospel and tell those terrified by the threats of God’s Law of the comforting promises of the Gospel — the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who look to Christ Jesus and His cross in faith.

I can repeat the words of Jesus, such as those found in John 3:14-18: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, reveals Himself to those whom He wills. It is as Jesus said in Matthew 11:27: “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (cf. John 1:10-14).

Jesus also said in John 6:44,63: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”; and, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

It is as we confess in the Unaltered Augsburg Confession (Art. V, Of the Ministry): “That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake.”

As we think about this miracle worked by our Lord Jesus, I invite you to also think about Holy Baptism. I, of myself, can’t wash away sins or give the Holy Spirit to anyone by pouring or sprinkling water on them. But when water is used in connection with God’s Word, Jesus does wash away sins and give His Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38-39; 22:16; Titus 3:3-7; Eph. 5:25-27).

John the Baptist said in Mark 1:7-8: “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (cf. Matt. 3:11).

Think about the Lord’s Supper, of which we are about to partake. I can’t turn water into wine, but Jesus can and did. And, I cannot cause Christ’s body and blood to be present, distributed and received in the Supper (in, with and under the bread and wine), but Jesus can and still does through His words of institution spoken on the night when He was betrayed (1 Cor. 11:23ff.).

Through His words of institution, He offers and gives to all who eat and drink of His Supper to partake of His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world — of His body which was given into death for our sins, and of His blood which was shed for the remission of our sins. And, through faith in Christ’s life-giving words, we receive the blessings He won for us when He was sacrificed for our sins. We are given and receive forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting for Jesus’ sake!

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, grant that I see your divine glory and believe that You indeed are my God and my Savior and place my trust in You for forgiveness and life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” John 1:47 Cf. John 1:43-51

When Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, saying, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45), Jesus said of Nathanael that he was a true Israelite in whom was no guile (or deceit).

What did this mean? We find the answer in Psalm 32, where David writes, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (v. 1-2).

To have guile is to be self-deceived and deny one’s utter sinfulness and hopelessness before the LORD God. Such self-deceit (thinking that one is righteous on the basis of his own life and works) keeps one from receiving and possessing the forgiveness which God gives through faith in His Son.

Nathanael was not deceived about himself as many others in Israel were at the time. Nathanael knew he had not kept the commandments of the LORD and was a sinner in need of a savior. Instead of pretending to be righteous of himself, he looked for salvation in the coming Messiah promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets. Thus, he was an “Israelite indeed”; and he came to know and trust in Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of Israel.

Today, too, our churches are filled with people who have guile in their hearts. They are self-deceived and think that all is well with their souls because of their own lives and works. They think that by going to church, doing good works, saying their prayers, etc., they will find entrance into heaven.

Sad to say, this keeps many from coming to Jesus and placing their hope and confidence in His holy life and His innocent sufferings and death in their stead.

What about you? Do you have guile in your heart? Are you self-deceived into thinking that all is well with your soul because of what you believe and do? Think again! Read what God’s Word says of you in Romans 3:9-20. Look at what it says of your heart in Jeremiah 17:9.

Look to Jesus for your salvation! He is the Son of God in human flesh, and He has redeemed you by bearing on the cross the full punishment for your sins (cf. Colossians 1:19-23)! Only in Him can you be saved (cf. Acts 4:12)!

O dearest Jesus, reveal to us our utter sinfulness that we not be deceived and full of guile in our hearts; but also reveal to us the forgiveness and life You have won for us by Your innocent sufferings and death on the cross and made sure to us by Your glorious resurrection. By Your Spirit, graciously forgive our sins and renew our hearts. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]



“Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” John 1:35-42

We sometimes feel that we are not capable of leading others to Jesus if we do not have a formal degree or specialized training. But Andrew, who had only himself been directed to Jesus by the witness of John the Baptist saying that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” first went and found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah,” and brought him to Jesus.

Of course, knowing the rest of the story, Jesus called Simon “Cephas” (which, in the Greek form, is Peter and means a stone). Peter became an important leader among Jesus’ disciples and, after his fall, boldly bore witness to Jesus as the crucified and risen Messiah and Savior.

While followers of Jesus will want to learn more and more of Him and His Word, even a new follower of Jesus, or untrained believer, can still tell others, “I have found the Savior.” Though a person may not know theological terms or formal Christian dogma, he can still tell people that Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose again and that, in Jesus, there is forgiveness and life everlasting!

Nor should anyone minimize the importance of such a witness for Jesus. The Holy Spirit can and does use the weak, the simple, and even the uneducated witness of believers to call others to faith in Christ Jesus. Even if it is simply a “come and see” or “come and hear” witness, the Holy Spirit can, as He did in the case of Jesus’ first disciples, call people to learn of Jesus and bring them to trust in His sufferings, death, and resurrection as the source of comfort, forgiveness, and new life.

We learn, too, that Jesus’ disciples came to know Him and trust in Him by spending time with Him; for not only did they spend that day with Jesus, but they also spent three years walking with Jesus, hearing His Word, and witnessing His mighty works and power.

We, too, can spend time with Jesus by reading and studying His Word. The Scriptures were written to make us “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). And through the Scriptures, the Spirit reveals to us Jesus — we see Him for who He is, and we witness for ourselves His love and mercy toward sinners and learn of His love and mercy toward us!

Dear Jesus, reveal Yourself to me through Your Word and grant that I know You and Your love and mercy toward me. And, Lord Jesus, give me the opportunity to tell others of You and direct them to You that they too might come to know and trust in You as their Savior. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]



“A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:5-8 (read v. 4-15)

From Jesus’ parable of the sower, we learn that not all who hear the Word of God with their ears rightly receive it in faith. In fact, some who initially hear it and come to faith in Jesus fall away again; but, by the grace of God, some of the seed of God’s Word falls on good ground — prepared by the Lord — and grows and produces faith and its fruits.

As we consider this parable, we remember that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63; cf. Heb. 4:12).

We remember that the Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17).

And consider the words of the LORD in Isaiah 55:10-11: “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

As we read the parable of the sower and its explanation, we are quick to identify people we know with the poor kinds of soil and ourselves with the good. But, when we do this, we miss the warning and comfort of this parable for ourselves.

This parable certainly warns against being like one of the three poor kinds of soil. We may think of ourselves as the good soil, but how often do we not also fit the descriptions of the poor ground?

Many times we are like the hard ground. The Word of God is sown upon us, but it doesn’t sink in and produce fruit in our lives because we have either been uninterested or inattentive. Then the Word is snatched away by the devil.

Often we are also like the rocky soil. Though God’s Word begins to grow and produce faith in us, in times of trouble, affliction or persecution, we shrink back from a bold and faithful confession of the truths of God’s Word because we have not let that Word sink its roots deep into our lives. When trouble comes and our faith is put to the test, we turn away in doubt and unbelief.

And how often, like the thorny ground, we let the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things in this life keep us from faithfully hearing and learning God’s Word! These things choke out the Word and keep us from living our lives by faith in Christ Jesus and producing the fruits of faith — the works God would have us do as His redeemed children (cf. Eph. 2:8-10; John 15:1-8).

When we are good soil, we can take no credit. We must say with Jesus that it is a blessing of the Lord when the Word sinks in, grows and produces fruit in our lives (Matt. 13:16).

It is the Lord who cultivates the soil of our hearts, breaking up the hard ground, removing the rocks and pulling out the weeds, that the Gospel of forgiveness of sins and life eternal for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross might be heard and believed by us and produce fruit in our lives.

“Almighty God, Thy Word is cast like seed into the ground; now let the dew of heaven descend and righteous fruits abound. Amen.” John Cawood (1819)

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. … 36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Jesus explains the parable of the wheat and the tares for us. He, through His servants, sows the good seed. The field is the world. The good seeds are the children of the kingdom of God; but the tares (or darnel) are the children of the devil, the evil one.

Jesus, through His faithful ministers, sows the pure seed of the Gospel in this world and thus produces true believers who repent of their sins and trust in Christ for salvation, and are, therefore, members of His eternal kingdom. These are the good seeds, or the wheat.

But in the same field where the true Gospel is proclaimed and produces Christians, the devil and his false prophets sow error and false doctrine which produce false Christians. These may appear to be genuine Christians, but they do not repent of their sinful ways and have saving faith in Jesus Christ, and their fruits or works are unacceptable to the Lord God.

In this world — and even within the outward visible church — true believers and false, unbelieving hypocrites continue to dwell side by side until the day of judgment. Then God’s holy angels will separate the false believers from the true.

Those whose religion did not spring up from the good seed of the Gospel will be separated from the true believers, gathered up, and cast into the eternal fires of hell! But those whose faith comes from the pure Gospel — who despair of their own righteousness and trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins and for eternal salvation, who also as a fruit of that faith produce fruit acceptable in God’s sight for Jesus’ sake — will be taken to heaven where they will live with Christ in righteousness and purity forever!

This is a warning to us that, wherever the Gospel is sown and true believers are in this world, the devil will also sow his lies and false teaching to lead people into false security and hope based on their own works and righteousness or upon some other lie or deception of the evil one. They may appear to be a part of Christ’s church in this world but they are not. They remain impenitent and unbelieving. In the end, they will be gathered up and cast into the fires of hell!

Only those who hear God’s Word, repent of their sins, and trust in Christ and His blood shed upon the cross for all will be gathered up by God’s angels and given eternal life in heaven!

Let us hold fast to Jesus Christ and continue in His saving Word lest we also be misled by the working of the evil one!

Defend Thy truth, O God, and stay this evil generation; and from the error of its way keep Thine own congregation. The wicked everywhere abound and would Thy little flock confound; but Thou art our Salvation. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, #260, Verse 6)

[Scripture is quoted from the King James version of the Bible.]

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