Epiphany 2, 2022
Wedding at Cana.
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.
The purpose of having this text as our gospel lesson for today is the same as the purpose of the miracle was back then for Jesus’ disciples. John normally explains what Jesus’ miracles were for, but this one he doesn’t. He just states that Jesus revealed his glory by doing this, “and his disciples believed in him”.
How could such a seemingly innocuous, unimportant, unnecessary miracle make Jesus’ disciples believe in him? How could it make us believe in him?
Well we have to remember that this was just the beginning. When John says that Jesus’ disciples believed in him, he does not mean that they knew exactly who he was as the Son of God, they knew all the things he was to do, and they never doubted again! No, it means that at that time, and in that place, they put their faith in him enough to follow him.
In the gospel of John we are shown seven signs or miracles and seven meals. It is a symbolic gospel, which points to who Jesus is, and it runs on a timeline. We are made aware of the timeline from the point of this miracle, it is here that we are introduced to the theme that runs through the gospel of the time of Jesus, the hour coming.
With the wedding at Cana, only days after Jesus chose his disciples, it was as if there was a voice saying: “Jesus of Nazareth, your time starts now….. His ministry was up and running.
And Jesus knew it. He might have been a little reluctant to tip his hand, to start his miracles, to raise questions among the Jews, and to alert the powers of hell that he was now on the job.
We can hear this in his question to Mary which is so unlike him: “Why do you involve me, woman, my time has not yet come.”
Well, the process that would make that time come was now officially set into motion. The clock was ticking for Jesus.
Why does Jesus’ ministry after his baptism begin with 500 litres of wine at a party? Why does it not begin on a massive scale for all the people to see? Why in a private gathering?
Because that’s where people are. It was no use making planets collide or stars explode, Jesus worked where he works now, he works among people. He works in the small things in life. He works in our health concerns, he works in the monetary problems, he works in mercy for us through the hands of others, he works in our good times and celebrations, and yes, he still works miracles.
He wades down into the river with us in our baptism, he is there in the midst of our parties, he shares our important moments and our celebrations, and when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, he is there, too.
Right at the start of Jesus ministry we see the contrast between what the people were expecting and who Jesus was. They wanted another Moses, another lawgiver, and right from the start, Jesus put other things first.
Was it accidental that the wine he made was out of water that was in the ceremonial washing jugs? I think not. The Jews had to be pure, they had to wash themselves, head, hand and foot, even before they had a great big party. Their laws were at the centre of their lives.
I don’t think it is any accident that Jesus transformed the big, old symbols of the old way of life into the new wine of a new era, a new way of life. If his work was going to begin, if his kingdom was going to come, then it would come joyfully, not a t the point of a sword, not in laws and rituals, but joyfully.
A couple’s wedding was going to be ruined. We are not told at what stage of the wedding festival this takes place. The wedding feast lasted for seven days, so it could have been at any time, but in a land where hospitality was important, to run out of wine was a disaster, this was how their wedding would be remembered. In fact, some would see it as an omen as to their marriage, that it might be unfruitful and not show forth the richness of God’s blessings.
Jesus’ ministry time and time again was one of mercy. The laws and the ceremonial washing were not as important for him as that couple’s feelings and the embarrassment that they would suffer, so he helped them out.
Time and time again our Lord showed mercy. From this time until his hour came to die, and even then in his time on the cross, Jesus was about mercy. Mercy to the sick, the demon-possessed, the outcast, mercy to the prostitute and the tax-collector, mercy to you and me.
Jesus was a guy who went to a party. I take comfort in that. It makes him easier to understand. He enjoyed a laugh, some fun, like everyone else, and like us.
Jesus was not a religious hermit who shut himself away from the people to do his thinking and his work, no! His work was among the people, right where mercy was needed, in his society.
And you know, that’s where Jesus still is, among people. His body, the church is not hidden away on a high mountain, only accessible to the select few, but it is in evidence and in action at parties and in life, on the streets and in the paddocks. That is where Jesus lives, that is where his mercy is still needed. His body, the church, is needed to bring it there.
Because let’s face it, the world hasn’t changed all that much from Jesus time to ours.
We still have the same problems, the same fears, the same worries about livelihood and health, and if the beer and wine ran out at an Australian wedding, it would be just as embarrassing.
Things are in motion. Jesus has declared who he is with his first miracle, he has brought mercy into a merciless world, our text tells us that he has revealed his glory. Straight away a line is drawn in the sand and the powers of the world start taking sides.
On one side the Pharisees start hearing whispers and start trying to find out about this man from Galilee.
On the other, people flock to Jesus as his fame grows, and he teaches and heals.
Three short years from this first, seemingly harmless miracle and he will be hanging on a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem.
The rest of his ministry now has the shadow of the cross cast over it, as he knows that there is one place that he is going. On to Jerusalem, on to die, on to his greatest act of mercy.
As we move towards lent, let us remember the shadow of the cross that hangs over our Lord now, and let us. Like him, turn our attention, and our focus, towards Jerusalem. The clock is ticking, his time is coming.