John 2:1-12 (ESV)
The Wedding at Cana
1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
It was Friday night. The last night of the Junior High Summer camp. This night was supposed to be one of the highlights of the camp with a special party; ice cream, silly games, music, special giveaways, and more.
But the week had been draining because it had rained almost every day. The kids were tired of the rain, the camp staff and volunteer leaders were tired from all their efforts to engage the kids all week, and candidly, I was tired as well. So, there was little enthusiasm for the party. Kids, leaders, and staffers alike were just standing around until one of my interns took over. He asked for ridiculous song to be played loudly through the sound system and as the music started, he began to grab kids and get them to for a conga line of sorts and things took off from there. Through my intern’s infectious efforts, the atmosphere was transformed from oppressive apathy to overflowing excitement and enthusiasm.
That’s the picture that I have of what Jesus is doing in this passage.
This is a great passage as Jesus performs His first miraculous sign in John’s Gospel (there are seven in total in John’s Gospel). The signs have the effect of revealing Jesus’ identity and purpose to us and there are several things that we could focus on in this passage, but I want to briefly touch on two.
The first is Jesus’ response to His mother. We’re tempted to read Jesus’ response as one of irritation at His mother’s request. That’s not how the original Greek text reads. Jesus is certainly formal in His response to His mother, but the response is one of openness and respect towards her.
What’s more interesting is the statement Jesus makes, “My hour has not yet come.” What does Jesus mean by “hour”?
The Greek word for “hour” is used several times in John’s Gospel and the word is always used to point forward to something else. In John’s Gospel, the hour that Jesus is referring to is fixed on the crucifixion. John is drawing us in as this first miraculous sign unfolds. The shadow of the cross is present at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry and John wants us to know that in and through Jesus, the hour is coming when God’s redeeming promises will be fulfilled through Jesus’ death on the cross.
The second point that catches my attention is the revelation of Jesus’ compassion through this miraculous sign. In this cultural context, running out of wine at a wedding was more than just a faux pas; it was an absolute disaster that would have brought shame and dishonor to the family and especially the newlyweds.
But here’s the amazing thing. Jesus takes this shameful dishonor and transforms it into overflowing, abundant joy.
In this miraculous sign, Jesus gives us, quite literally, a foretaste of what’s to come when we entrust our lives to Him. Notice that Jesus’ mother said, “Do whatever HE tells you.”
And what does Jesus do? Jesus transforms shame and dishonor by unleashing strange and abundant joy and compassion upon people through His presence.
N.T. Wright had an interesting suggestion in his commentary on this passage; a suggestion that I highly recommend to you this day.
“You might want to pray through this story with your own failures and disappointments in mind—remembering that transformation only came when someone took Mary’s words seriously; ‘Do whatever HE tells you.’”
Do what He tells you, and be prepared to be transformed, as Jesus’ abundant joy and compassion are unleashed upon your life.
God bless you and know that I’m praying for you constantly.
John 2:1-12 (ESV)