The Johannine scholar, Thomas Brodie, wrote, “This text is extraordinarily dense and is open to almost endless comment” (The Gospel According to John. 1993, p. 172). Many aspects become symbolic, that is, signs pointing to Jesus, the cross and the life Jesus freely gives. My devotions only focus on one thing and its symbolic teaching. For a more detailed look at this familiar story, check my article, ‘They have no wine,’ at: https://www.storymakerlife.com/they-have-no-wine.html
Prepare to listen. Be still and hear these words of the Lord: Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. (Isaiah 55:3)
Read John 2:1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ 4And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 6Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, ‘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.’ 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Mary came to Jesus with a simple statement of fact, ‘They have no wine.’ She ignored Jesus’ seeming reluctance to act, and confidently tells the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ It seems that Mary forced Jesus to step up and act; begin the mission he’d been sent to do. What Jesus did at the wedding gives a wonderful picture of the generosity of our God, one that forms the backdrop to his entire mission.
Jesus used what was available—six stone water jars intended for purification. Guests would rinse their hands and perhaps also dirty and dusty feet in these jars before partaking of the meal, as required by Jewish law. Each jar held between twenty and thirty gallons. If all that was turned to wine, in today’s terms, it would come to 700 bottles of wine! That’s an extravagant abundance of wine by any standards, especially coming towards the end of the wedding, by which time most guests had probably had more than enough wine (the steward states the guests were already drunk). That wedding in small town Cana didn’t need an additional 700 bottles of wine. Jesus’ response to a seemingly insignificant need is one of extreme and extravagant abundance. Do you get it? This is what fullness of life in Jesus is about, the fullness of life he promised (Jn 10:10). The Apostle Paul got it and so wrote to the church in Ephesus, “In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us” (Eph 1:7-8). The generous abundance of wine lavished at an unknown couples’ wedding is a symbol of the abundant life Jesus promised and the grace he lavishes on us.
What images stand out for you in this story? How does this story serve as a sign pointing you to Jesus? How can you live today showing the world the extravagant generosity of God?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Lord, where I have been stingy and mean, forgive me. Where I can be extravagantly generous, displaying you to the world, please show me that and give me courage to live like you today. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world rejoicing in God’s generous grace.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.