Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wedding At Cana

The Wedding At Cana, in John 2.1-11, is something of a stepchild among the miracles of Jesus.  John is the only one who recorded it and it lacks the drama of the others; most of the people there didn’t even know anything had happened.   This lack of excitement may be why commentators tend to spend more time trying to decide if Jesus really made wine than they do on the miracle itself.  I want to spend some time now, and look at this very quiet miracle, and ask ” What is Jesus trying to show us?”

First remember that Jesus was different from prophets like John the Baptist.  Out in the desert John preached a baptism of repentance and wore clothing made of camel’s hair, and ate wild honey and locusts (Mark 1.4-8).  John was the messenger sent to prepare the way for Jesus (Mark 1.2).  Jesus described the difference between them this way: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking , and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and ‘ “sinners.” ‘ But wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Mat. 11.18-19).

When Jesus was asked why he and his disciples did not fast, like the Pharisees and John’s disciples, Jesus said “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them” (Mark 2.19).  I think this is the key to understanding why Jesus performed his first sign at the Wedding At Cana.  He is the bridegroom and his coming is a time of rejoicing.  The idea of Jesus as the bridegroom is a common theme in the New Testament: Mat. 1.15; 25.1; John 3.29; Rev.21.2 and other places.  The prophets Amos and Joel wrote that the coming of the Messiah would be a joyful time of abundance when “New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills” (Amos 9.13), “In that day the mountains will drip with new wine...” (Joel 3.18), “The threshing floor will be filled with grain; and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil” (Joel 2.24).

People are often puzzled by the amount of wine Jesus made at the Wedding at Cana, perhaps as much as a 690 liters.  But Jesus was the bridegroom, and this is when he “revealed his glory” (John 2.11).  It was a time for celebrating, not a time for stinginess.  Also, abundance is a characteristic of Jesus’ miracles.  In the feeding of the 5,000, everyone ate their fill (John 6.12) and when they gathered the leftover pieces they “filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (John 6.13).

Jesus created the wine.  The book of John starts with a reference to the creation: “In the beginning was the Word...” (John 1.1). Jesus made all things in the beginning and he can make us new again too:  “...put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4.24).  By creating the wine he was showing that a new beginning was starting, a time of refreshing that has come from the Lord (Acts 3.19).

The creating of the wine at the Wedding at Cana was not a big showy miracle.  It was quiet and gentle like when God revealed himself to Elijah in the gentle whisper at Horeb (1Kings 19.12).  Jesus was the bridegroom and he chose to reveal his glory at a wedding, and he  blessed it with an abundance of wine.  His disciples were able to understand the meaning of this sign and they believed in him.  We have lost sight of the significance of this sign by being distracted by minor details.  I think if we take time to understand what Jesus was teaching we too can understand and put our faith in him.

Your comments are always welcome,

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