John 2:1-11 – Wedding at Cana
The Wedding at Cana is one of the great ‘epiphany’ stories that is included in this church season. An Epiphany is to have ‘a moment of great or sudden revelation or realisation.’ I am not sure if you have ever had an epiphany moment – but they are quite extraordinary! Those moments when something new blows through your mind – you see the world, people, a situation in a totally new way.
Epiphany moments can cause a fundamental change in one’s life. They are not always dramatic affairs; rather simply a moment when you know that something has changed in your mind or in your heart. The circumstances might be dramatic but it is not a requirement. Epiphany moments are what we, as Christians, should be seeking for ourselves. Religion and even faith can become very dull if we are not watching and waiting for epiphany moments ourselves
Sometimes in life, we may need a bit of wine to liven things up! We share wine in all sorts of ways, it can add to dinner parties, we bring a bottle when invited to another’s home. Pre-Covid we would have shared the wine at communion. The Bible has many references to wine; both for celebration and for warning about the excesses:
In Genesis, Noah gets into trouble for his over consumption. There is also an early reference to bread and wine being used by Melchizdek, a king who set up a priestly line.
In Leviticus there is a prohibition against drinking wine but equally it was required in many offerings to God
Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
Isaiah gives us the beautiful invitation: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
In Psalm 104 we are told that: He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people cultivate- bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.
The New Testament has many references to wine as well. It is an important element of the Gospel reading this morning. The Wedding at Cana is ultimately not about scarcity, but that is where it starts. Mary takes Jesus to one side and utters four words that would strike fear into the heart of any host, ‘they have no wine.’ Jesus has not noticed the wine shortage, but his Mother had and she intends, nay expects Jesus to do something about it.
This is good news! We do not have to negotiate or beg or plead with Jesus to act on our behalf. We may have to persist, there are often many other factors at play that we do not know about or see.
At the heart of what Jesus is doing at the wedding of Cana is protecting the bride & groom and their families from shame. Hospitality is at the heart of Middle Eastern culture and always has been. To run out of wine at a wedding would be beyond humiliation, it would bring disgrace on a family. There were few things worse than failing to provide for one’s guests. Jesus, by providing wine for them, he fulfils the need they have in that very moment. Jesus protected them from shame and disgrace in front of their community. He does the very same for us, Jesus covers our shame, our sins. He covers us in his love. Jesus also covers us in the very moment we need him too. He can change your life, He can change your day and He can also change that very moment you find yourself in.
Back to the wine, Jesus uses six stone water-jars which each hold 20-30 gallons each – let’s say 150 gallons. That is a lot of wine and it was good wine; not the plonk served when the wits of the guests had been numbed. Jesus provided an abundance of wine; probably more than was needed and this is where this story goes from scarcity to abundance.
In Psalm 104, God is praised for providing grass, cattle, plants, wine, oil and bread in excessive amounts. The suggestion here is that it was more than a few blades, a few crusts and a few sips. The question has been asked, how much wine does it take to gladden the heart?
The answer is not very much! It only took the chief steward a mouthful to know that he was drinking something magnificent. The symbolism here being of course that God takes what is ordinary and makes it extraordinary. We are told that a faith the size of a mustard seed is all that is required.
Many people try to fill their lives with excessive amounts of things (including wine) that will not ultimately satisfy them. It takes a little bit of love, a little bit of care and attention, a little bit of faith, forgiveness and grace to make a spectacular difference. God will give us more than we can ever ask or imagine; his generosity knows no bounds. Sometimes we have to come to Him and say ‘I have no wine’. He will provide an abundance of whatever it is we need.