1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” … (Read the whole passage)
As we begin our journey into the gospel of John, we move on from the big celebrations of Christmas, Epihany and finally the Baptism of Jesus. Today, we are back to green – ordinary time or counting time. And we hear a story with a little less drama than what took place on the banks for the Jordan. Yet, a familiar story none the less.
The wedding of Cana.
Jesus’ first miracle of his public ministry. Its a famous story about a relatively happy, generous and harmless miracle. Turning water into wine is like moving a child’s birthday party from the local public pool to the expensive and fact waterpark in town! It sure does ramp up the party, but in the end it is still swimming.
Today, John carefully mentions twice that Jesus attends this wedding celebration in Cana of Galilee. Galilee a poor province next to Jerusalem, full of thieves, bandits and gentiles. People who were ignored and forgotten by the rest of the world. And here in Cana, a small village of no consequence, Jesus is attending a wedding. A wedding party that is supposed to last 7 days, yet during which the wine runs out before its time for it to be over. And while running out of wine would be a source of shame for the wedding hosts, the father of the bride in particular, it was probably not an uncommon experience. In the subsistence world of first century Israel outside of Jerusalem, most small communities like Cana were collections of people just trying to make ends meet. If hard, back breaking work meant that you could earn enough or produce enough to buy food and shelter, pay your taxes and debts and care for you family… you were doing pretty well.
Having extras for weddings was an extravagance. So entire communities likely came together at times of celebration. If everyone contribute something, there was probably enough for a party. And the party lasted as long as the wine held up.
The wedding in Cana was probably for someone who was a relation or family friend of Jesus. Mary, his mother, is at the wedding. So are Jesus disciples… when there was a wedding in a town like Cana, everyone attended, local or foreigner.
And so with extra out of town guests, and the relative poverty of the townsfolk, it is not surprise that the wine ran out.
Mary thinks that something should be done, she tells Jesus and his response seems almost rude, “What concern is that to you and me?”. He seems to be saying, “Why should I care? Who cares about Cana in Galilee, its in the middle of nowhere! Who cares about this wedding? Does it really matter if the party ends early? Does we really need a little more wine?
For us in the 21st century, running out of food or drink at such an important celebration as a wedding is a major faux pas. Someone should fire the wedding planner or get a refund.
But we shouldn’t get too caught up on the details of the wedding or the wine.
Because we DO know what it is like to run out. To run out of time, run out of options, run out of opportunity. Run out of energy.
It isn’t wine at a wedding that run out of, but it might be money at the end of a paycheque.
We might run out of time to spend with our spouses or kids at the end of a long work day, or time to spend with grandkids at the of a short once a year visit.
We might run out of treatment options at the end of a battle with disease or illness.
We might run out of chances to fix a broken marriage or relationship or friendship.
We might run out of time to get our affairs in order or make our own decisions before the health crisis hits.
Like those wedding guests in Cana, we know very well in our world what it is like to run out, to not have enough, to be bound by limits and walls, for death to be the thing always waiting for us.
The wedding of Cana is our world, we live it every day. The wedding of Cana is not unusual because wine ran out… in fact, it is was probably like every wedding to come before it.
The wedding of Cana is not unusual except for Mary.
Because Mary knows something that no one else knows.
When she tells her son Jesus that the wine has run out, she isn’t doing it as a micro-managing mother. She is pleading with him as someone who knows that things can be different than the norm. That endings and limits and running our and death doesn’t have to be the way it is.
She knows that with Jesus the world is different because she has lived it. She has been given the death sentence of a pregnancy outside of marriage, yet her world kept on.
So when the wine runs out, maybe she is looking to Jesus for a different world. For a world where we aren’t defined by not having enough. She is pleading for a glimpse of the new creation of Messiah.
Jesus might not respond in the most kind way, but perhaps there is something in his mother’s face… the realization that his hour has indeed come. That his hour came back in the beginning. Back when the word became flesh.
So Jesus tells the servants to fills the water jars….
And the water becomes wine. Its a wonderful gift that Jesus bestows on this wedding… but the wine itself is only one part of the gift that is given. No one else seems to realize what has happened for this small and poor wedding in the middle of nowhere is that God has stepped in.
God changed the normal outcome.
God has changed the ending that we know, the ending of running out, of limits and walls, the ending of death.
And Jesus brings the wedding back to life. You could even say the wedding of Cana was the first time that Jesus raised something from the dead.
It just a foretaste, hint, a glimpse of what is to come, but the wedding sets the stage. Jesus isn’t just correcting some poor wedding planning, or taking mercy on hosts that had more guests show up than they anticipated.
Jesus is changing the normal order of the world. The order where death always wins, and Jesus creates new life where there was nothing before… just as God first created life from nothing.
And as the wedding of Cana is transformed and raised to new life… so are we.
So are we week after week.
As endings and limits and walls and deaths punctuate our lives, Jesus transforms us. Not be putting a few more dollars in back account, or longer work days, or shorter distances from loved ones, quick fixes for broken relationships, or better health and ability in the midst of aging and decline.
Jesus turns our endings, limits and death into wine week after week, Sunday after Sunday.
Jesus turns the endings of our brokenness and sin into forgiveness and mercy
Jesus turns the endings of condemnation into the good news of God’s love for this world.
Jesus turns the ending of not-enough into an abundance of bread and wine.
Jesus turns the endings of death into new life.
Jesus gives us the first miracle of the gospel of John, the wedding feast of Cana where they ran out of wine…. but a story of death and resurrection.
The first miracle which foreshadows the end… the last miracle
Miracles that both take place on the 3rd day.
And a woman named Mary being the first to find what is empty.
And empty wine jars pointing us to an empty tomb.
In the Weeding of Cana, the first miracle of the gospel of John, the Messiah, the one who changes the order of our world, the one who brings – to a world of endings, limits and death – resurrection and new life.