Tonight I will have a small part in helping the SGA UMC Annual Conference celebrate in worship by doing a dramatic reading of the story of the Wedding @ Cana. As I have prepared, I have been forced to make some interpretive decisions on the passage:
“Jesus must love wine.” “Jesus is obviously a party animal.” “The story proves that Jesus loved to have fun.” Well…maybe.
John 2:1-11 is the story of the Wedding at Cana, the turning of the water into wine.
The text indicates that this is the “first of [Jesus's] signs,” and that Jesus “revealed his glory….” What was the miracle here?
The obvious answer would be that the water was turned into wine. However, the text begs a deeper understanding of what is miraculous here.
Jesus initially did not feel that the lack of wine at the wedding concerned him or his mother, vv. 5. In fact, he felt that his “hour [had] not yet come.” Why, then, does Jesus turn the water into wine? The reason that he does this must be the core of the miracle, possibly the very thing that the writer of the Gospel of John is attempting to communicate to us. In the text, what is in between Jesus denying his mother’s insinuation and Him commanding the servants to fill the jars with water? The statement that in this place there were “six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification….”
It seems that the difference between Jesus’ hour not being at that present time and him revealing his glory concerns the fact that he had the opportunity to almost anonymously transform the Jewish rite of purification! Jesus in a sense re-creates the rite by making the rite a common, desirable, and excellent thing that is to be taken into the body by everyone regularly. In a sense, Jesus seems to be spurned on by the opportunity or call to offer internal purification to every, even the most common, individual by his transforming power.
The steward’s comment to the bridegroom is quite ironic: “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now” (vv. 10).
What had previously come out of the jars for the rite of purification was, just as he said, “inferior” to what Jesus’ transforming power offered! Even to the drunk!
Do you know what I have to say about that? Thanks be to God!
See you all tonight at SGAUMC Annual Conference Worship at the St. Luke UMC Ministry Center @ 7:30pm.
What are your thoughts?