The child’s earlobes had turned grey and his innocent fingers cold to the touch, until Jesus reassured the royal official that, “Your son will live.” The paralytic’s broken body had piled up at the water’s edge for 38 years until Jesus said, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” The blind man from birth was panhandling his corner and clinking his can until Jesus cleared his vision by rubbing mud in his eyes. And Lazarus’ was wrapped in the stench of death until Jesus said, “unbind him and let him go.”
These are all miracles of consequence, utilitarian demonstrations of God’s good and practical work in the world. But readers and scholars alike have been confused and confounded about the inclusion of the very first miracle in John’s Gospel. No demon was exorcized; no brokenness was mended; no infirmary was healed. Just some water was turned into wine.
So what’s revealed by this miracle at the wedding of Cana?
John 2:1-11 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 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 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.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Despite the long faces in most churches, Christ loves merry making and always shows up at a party.
That Jesus will transform a cleansing ritual with water for a few into a welcome sacrament of wine for all.
That mothers are usually right since Mary initiates the miracle.
God is about the relentless work of always giving the very best, of transforming the old into the new.
Jesus is the groom and we are the bride, a marriage that can never been annulled based on vows of eternity.
Among us, there remains a spirituality of suffering, a paucity of belief that preaches a gospel of insufficiency. Pinch your pennies and constrain your clock; reduce your relationships and limit your love; hoard your help and divide your discipleship. It’s a theology of scarcity, the expectation that I’m not enough and that our higher power isn’t enough, that there’s never enough to enough.
“Men,” says William Barclay, “spend the greater part of the their lives putting limitations on the power of God.”
What’s revealed by this miracle at the wedding of Cana?
That many of us have settled for sipping wine from a box, learned to tolerate sucking on sour grapes, or, worse, resigned ourselves to a parched life as thirsty people.
Still, when the party ran dry, Jesus showed up in his tuxedo to raise a glass, to toast the truth we gather our lives around: that when the soil gets rocky the sower still scatters seed, that when the 5000 are fed there’s still bread baskets aplenty, that when we cast down our nets the bountiful catch will nearly sink our boats.
Friends and family, and honored guests, the wedding reception has begun, the music is blaring, the dance floor is gyrating and the invitation is beckoning to let the libation linger long into the night, to drink deeply from the cup that runneth over, to be gluttons of grace in the name of the one who was, is and ever shall be revealed in the glory of abundance.