Summary: The little things in the Bible are easy to overlook, yet it all has meaning. In the miracles at the wedding in Cana, the 240,000 servings of wine can teach us about the difference between the Law and the Spirit, God’s Grace and God’s character.
I love weddings. I have only had the occasion to perform two weddings and those were both great and special occasions for me. I had so much fun. And weddings are supposed to be fun. I think we should take a lesson from 1st century Judaism on how to party. The usual festivities consisted of a procession in which the bridegroom’s father brought the bride to the groom’s house, and then a wedding feast would be offered. Most often the festivities lasted 7 days. Now that’s a party.
It not insignificant that Jesus’ first miracle was at a party. Jesus often used weddings, feasts, banquets and parties to describe the Kingdom of God. Jesus was not just stating empty phrases. Jesus wanted us to know that Christianity is a celebration. The Psalmist tells us to be glad and rejoice, to shout for joy. My favorite author Tony Campolo has a book called “The Kingdom of Heaven is a Party.” I would say that based on this, the church should also be a party. This is a simple lesson that our lives together are to be bound by joy.
This is why I love weddings. It a time in the church when I really feel that celebration, that joy, that sense that God’s desire is that we are to party. This is our setting for our story… it is a party. And obviously our narrative begins somewhere in the middle or maybe near the end of the party because as we know they were beginning to run out of wine.
This brings us to our lesson of our little thing for this Sunday—The Wine.
I heard a pastor give a sermon on this passage once and he mentioned the idea that miracles are the outcome of a problem. So first let’s identify the problem. Look at verse 3.
Mary was filling Jesus in on the problem. Now I don’t know how you read this passage but I find the discussion between Jesus and His mother quite interesting. Was Mary just telling Jesus? Was she simply relaying the message? Perhaps, she was telling Jesus because she was embarrassed for the host. “Hey son, can you believe these folks have no more wine?”
I suppose based on Jesus response, many read this as a statement form of a request. Mary did not ask Jesus to do anything about the problem. But Jesus responds as if she is pushing Him to do something about the problem.
And this is what Jesus does. Jesus recognizes problems. As I read it, Mary simply stated the fact that there was a problem. Jesus immediately recognized His ability to cure the problem. And Jesus’ response to Mary is intriguing. He literally says, “What to me and to you?” This is a Semitism, a common Hebrew phrase. What this Semitism translates to is, “What does this have to do with me?” Now this is bothersome and I don’t want to get too far off track but I should say that I believe this is John’s editing that leaves us with so little. I would have to assume that there is more to this discussion than what we can read about in these 11 verses. I mean it would be quite harsh if Jesus said to us, “Well, I know you have problems, but why is it my business?”
Jesus does not react that way to our problems. To conclude this discussion on Jesus’ response, I should also add that the author of this Gospel John, has high concern for the “hour.” This is referring to the period of death, resurrection and ascension. It was not until the time of His crucifixion that Jesus said, “My hour has now come.” So no, Jesus was not just saying, This is not my problem. Jesus was saying that it’s not my time to get to involved in the final stage of his ministry. Jesus was not saying that it is not my time to perform miracles, preach sermons, heal the blind and free the oppressed.
If anything I think this points to the fact that a mother knows. Mom’s you know your children don’t you? I know my mom used to know my thoughts before I would think them. Mary tells Jesus of a problem. Jesus responds by saying, “Well, It’s none of my business.” And immediately Mary turns to the servants and says, “Do what He tells you to do.” A mother knows. Mary knew her son’s abilities. Jesus knew His own abilities. And miracles are the results of problems. And let me tell you the fact that these people had no wine was a serious problem, and we will get into that in a minute.
What I want to do now is skip all the way to the end of our passage in order to back track and explain why the wine is literally so significant.