Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

When my sister and brother in law were planning their wedding a few years back, they were given a selection of readings to choose from, one of which was this passage we have just heard. As I was the churchy one in the family, my opinion was asked. I strongly suggested using this passage.

“Why?” I was asked.

“Well, it is about a wedding. I really like it.” Not the most convincing argument.

“But what about what Jesus says to Mary?”

Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?

“I can’t have that at my wedding! It is just rude!”

So, the choice ended up being the reading from 1st Corinthians. And in all honesty, Paul’s words about love have much more to do with a wedding than this passage today. You see, this passage has very little to do with marriage at all. The wedding is place where something far more significant is happening. As John states:

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him

So, what actually happened?

Jesus and his followers, which probably add up to seven at this point arrive at a wedding, and the wine has run out.  Jesus changes the water into wine.

It could be that he was having a great time and wanted the party to continue, but that would hardly be a reason for his disciples to believe in him.

Jesus uses this crisis in the celebration to show those with eyes to see who he really is, to reveal his divinity.
Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons

There are six jars which will be used at the end of the celebration for purification rites. The water would be used to wash the bride and bridegroom and all the guests. But Jesus uses these jars and water and changes them to wine.

By using these jars Jesus is showing that these rites are no longer necessary. By the presence of the incarnate Lord, the old way of being and doing will change.  The water of purification was a way of keeping people in and out of God’s presence. But with God being present in the person of Christ there is no issue of who is in or out. The water of the Old Testament is turned into wine.

It is significant that Jesus uses something from the old way to reveal his Glory. He doesn’t remove the water, he changes it.

As he says in Matthews Gospel:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
Mat 5:17-18

Jesus shows that the old way was not complete. His changing the water to wine is fulfilling the old for it to become the new.

And it is no ordinary wine
But you have kept the good wine until now

The steward says. Wine could not be this good before the incarnation. Jesus fulfils the old, and his presence on earth means that even something like wine fulfils its abilities.

We will see this again at the multiplication of the loaves. The stories are very similar. Both arise out of a crisis involving the sustenance of a crowd that has gathered. In the story of the loaves, Jesus uses a small amount of bread that is provided and multiplies it to feed the many that are there. Here with the wedding, he uses the water for purification and changes it to wine for the guests.  With the bread, the comparison is made with the old way:

Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
John 6:31-33

In both stories the sign that is shown is that Jesus is the Son of God, and not only that, but that what he does fulfils the old. In both stories the comparison is made with the old system and how things are now different.

But what are we to make of Jesus “woman” comment:

"Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come."

It is not a rebuff really. Mary appears only one other time in John’s Gospel, at the foot of the cross. Here again Jesus will call her “woman”

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son."
John 19:26

But the difference here as opposed to the wedding, is that his hour has come.

Jesus changing of the water into wine heralds the shedding of his blood on the cross.

And at the last supper, Jesus will speak of the union of suffering and glory that he will experience in his death and resurrection. This is shown in the changing of water and the wine. The old way of thinking what the messiah will be has been changed to a new understanding.

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
John 2:1-11

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