Summary: At the wedding of Cana, Jesus performs a miracle and his disciples see a sign of who Jesus truly is.
John 2:1-11 “Watching for Signs”
Today we have a fun passage of Scripture before us—the wedding at Cana. Even though this is a very serious passage with a powerful message there’s a certain lightness to the story. It is a celebration; a wedding feast.
Whenever I read the story of the wedding at Cana a question immediately pops up in my mind, “Why?” Why a wedding? Jesus did hundreds of miracles—healings, exorcisms, even raising people from the dead. Why then did the writer of John include a wedding story in his gospel? The story is embarrassing to our brothers and sisters who don’t use alcohol. It’s hard to argue against something when Jesus, the one you are following, was for it. There has been a lot of speculation about this, but of course we will never know.
After reading, studying and praying in preparation for this sermon, I think I’ve identified a few reasons why the writer had Jesus’ first miracle in his gospel take place at a wedding feast.
Celebrations were rare during this period of time. Life was harsh. So, on these rare times of celebration people pulled out all the stops. I believe the gospel writer included this story in order to underscore the truth that Jesus is a part of all of our lives.
In John’s first chapter, the writer celebrates the fact that the Word took on human form and dwelt among us. Jesus experienced everything that we experience—the lows and the highs, the triumphs and the tragedies. The other stories about Jesus and the miracles that he accomplishes usually take place in times or situations of suffering. There are the lepers, the blind, the demon possessed, and gentile women. We talk a lot about how God is in our suffering giving us comfort and hope. But, Jesus is also in our celebrations.
If God cries when we cry, God also laughs and smiles when we do. God is with us when we fill joy, and he rejoices with us in our thankfulness. When we celebrate birthdays—or anniversaries of our birthdays—God is with us. When we get a new job, receive a promotion, get a raise, God is with us.
God celebrated with us when we received that anonymous gift and loan to begin our construction preparation process. When we received the approval of the city council—God was there. When we finally break ground God will be whooping it up just like we will be. And, when we finally get in a building, God will be with us helping us to set off the fireworks.
There are many little nuances in the story of Jesus and the wedding at Cana. There is always Jesus’ little skirmish with his mother, Mary. One element that I find intriguing is the abundance demonstrated in the story.
Wedding celebrations usually lasted about seven days. It is drawing near the end of the celebration and the host runs out of wine. He probably wouldn’t have needed much more wine, but look at what he gets—120 to 180 gallons of wine. Jesus has the servants fill six stone jars each with the capacity of holding 20 to 30 gallons of water. The servants fill the jars to the top and Jesus changes all of that water into wine. It’s not ordinary wine, either, it is fine wine.
God is a God of abundance. Now, when we hear the word, “abundance,” many of us in the United States hear, “affluence.” God is not a God of affluence, but God is a God of abundance. There’s something more important in life than money and material things. The abundant life is not one of conspicuous consumption but rather one of conspicuous discipleship.
Because of all of our wants, we often think that God is a stingy God. The Lord, however, does provide everything we need for our daily lives. The Christian life is abundant in terms of meaning and purpose—and opportunities to share our talents, abilities and other blessings with the people around us.
Providing the wine for the wedding—in abundance was also a sign that the kingdom of God had come.
We may think of heaven as a place of pearly gates, gold roads, and fluffy cloud lawns. When the Jews of Jesus’ time pictured the kingdom of heaven, they pictured a banquet. Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven was upon them, and to prove that he provided 180 gallons of wine.
The kingdom of God is now—not just some distant time in the future when we “meet our maker.” Today we live in a relationship with God. Today we live under God’s rule, and God promises to provide for us and protect us. The disciples who saw and believed understood this truth and celebrated it.
Today we have the baptism of Peyton Marie. We may not have 120 gallons of water, but we do have water. With that water God accomplishes something more than making great wine. God forgives, adopts and fills with the Holy Spirit. We celebrate the kingdom of God and the abundance of God’s blessings in our lives. We can do this not just at a baptism, but every day of our lives.