Summary: Jesus is the God who transforms.
14/1/01 6 p.m. John 2:1-11 : Year C : Epiphany 2
2:1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, "They have no more wine." 4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
I’d like you to think back to the last time you went to a wedding ? Can you remember how long it and the reception lasted ? Probably no more than six of eight hours.
According to the Mishnah a wedding would take place on a Wednesday if the bride was a virgin and on a Thursday if she was a widow (Ket. 1:1). The bridegroom and his friends made their way in procession to the bride’s house. This was often done at night, when there could be a spectacular torchlight procession. There were doubtless speeches and expressions of goodwill before the bride and groom went in procession to the groom’s house, where the wedding banquet was held. It is probable that there was a religious ceremony, but we have no details. The processions and the feast are the principal items of which we have knowledge. The feast was prolonged, and might last as long as a week.
We cannot be sure exactly where Cana was, although some suggest it was about 9 miles North of Nazareth, where Jesus, his disciples and mother lived. The gospels record Jesus attending meals and celebrations on many occasions. It makes one ask why some who claim to follow Jesus have insisted that life should be devoid of pleasure. I know of one Christian couple who had an alcohol-free reception and said what a witness it was !
I am not suggesting that you must have alcoholic drinks to enjoy yourself, or commending drunkenness. Every Christian’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit so we should not lose control of them to drink or drugs. But, just as an earthly father loves to see his child enjoy a Christmas present, so our heavenly father loves to see us enjoy his good gifts.
In Jesus’ day the host of the party was expected to provide them with food and wine. And if for some reason the host failed in providing adequately for the guests it was considered a social disgrace. Running out of wine and food meant more than embarrassment; it broke the strong unwritten laws of hospitality. In the closely-knit communities of Jesus’ day, such an error would never be forgotten and would haunt the newly married couple all their lives. It could have been that Mary knew about them running out of wine early on because she was helping with the hospitality.
3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, "They have no more wine." 4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
Mary thought that her son could help with this problem. He had just been baptised and chosen his disciples in readiness for his public ministry. Mary knew of his miraculous conception and birth, she remembered the promises made about Jesus. Perhaps he needed his mother to push him into the limelight.
The phrase ’Dear woman’ was a polite but distant way of addressing one’s mother. When Jesus refers to ’my time’ in John’s gospel this refers to his revelation through his death, resurrection and ascension. It was as if Jesus was saying, ’This is of no concern to me, my business is about saving the world’.
Perhaps this incident is an important growth point in Mary’s relationship with Jesus. Up until now she might have seen Jesus as her son. From this incident she realises that Jesus is God’s son and will follow his heavenly father’s ways.