Water into Wine


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Water into Wine
The wedding at Cana by Willima Hole

Picture courtesy of pinterest

Today we are going to take a look at the Story of the Wedding in Cana. Jesus attended this wedding which almost would have been a social disaster if it had not been for him.

A wedding celebration in Israel in those days could last up to a week, but obviously more guests showed up than they were expecting and I believe the reference to the 3rd day mentioned in most Bible versions actually means the 3rd day of the wedding. Those who planned the wedding were expecting a crowd, at least the entire village plus visiting family they would have had what they thought would be enough for a week – obviously this turned out to be a far bigger crowd than they had expected. The wine runs out on the 3rd day of the wedding. Go read about it in our gospel reading for today (Here at None).

Jesus answers His mother, that it is not yet his time for miracles, why? He has had his baptism and 40 days in the desert, maybe he is still recovering physically; maybe he doesn’t want his first miracle to be associated with a drunken wedding party and the provision of alcohol; or maybe he is testing the faith of the first one to believe he is the Messiah – his mother. She has the faith to act on her belief and tell the servants to do whatever Jesus orders. In the end he performs the miracle, in obedience to her request. When you read the Bible in a short space of time as a full book, rather than in small chunks like we usually do, you pick up on the absolute strong link between obedience to God and the blessings of God. Jesus is going to honour his mother (as the 10 commandments specify) and not ignore her request, and she trusts Him, she is trusting God.

The apostle John gives a lot of attention to detail in the telling of his stories. Here he explains that Jesus used the water pots normally used for ritual washing. Why is this detail important? It tells us that the household where the wedding was being held was a priestly household, or at least a household concerned with purity. There were laws concerning the water in these jars. Halakha (Jewish law) requires that the water used for ritual washing be naturally pure, unused, not contain other substances, and not be discoloured. The ultimate water for ritual washing is called "living water". Nothing is placed in this water rather it is poured out over the hands, area or object being ritually washed and the stone jars themselves show the household was reasonably wealthy – poorer priestly households would have had to make do with clay ones which have to be broken after 1 use (Jewish law) whereas the expensive stone ones are not subject to the impurity laws (therefore are considered always spiritually clean) and can be reused over and over again. We know the Holy Spirit as "living water" and I can't help but see the symbolic connection between this miracle and the "wine of the Holy Spirit". Also they were large enough to contain enough wine to last another 4 days, probably with some leftover – given the higher quality of the wine. This shows Jesus considered the practical aspect as well as the spiritual.

The wedding feast was a symbol in Judaism of God’s reign. By placing the story of his first miracle being at a wedding feast, John is alerting his readers to something important: this Jesus is about to bring God’s reign (the kingdom of God) into the here and now. God’s trans-forming power is bursting through into the present in response to obedience and faith. The Word had become flesh and moved into the neighbourhood. He is still around and the rules haven’t changed that much, obedience and faith get his attention and bring transformation and abundant blessings. So if you want to change your life, talk to Him!