One of my favorite New Testament stories made its way into my reading this week. I’m talking of course, about the first part of John 2 – the wedding at Cana. I love this story because it’s when Jesus reveals his glory to his disciples.
Just kidding. I love it because of all the booze.
I promise this isn’t just because I really like wine. There’s a lot of great stuff in this story that I think might get overlooked, since the nature of this miracle seems so different than that of the others. But here’s the good stuff that stuck out to me this time around:
Jesus and his crew partied, and they partied hard. John doesn’t say too much about the newlyweds or other wedding guests, but whoever they were, they ran out of wine before anyone was ready to call it a night (…awkward…).
Mary is so great here. Jesus hadn’t performed any miracles yet, but she’s still so confident that he can do something about their dilemma. Thirty years ago when that angel told her this son was also God, she really believed him. Her faithfulness is so admirable, as are her priorities.
His time had not yet come. Up until now, Jesus was just a Jewish carpenter who had been baptized by his quirky cousin. He hadn’t healed the sick, fed the 5,000, or even preached that long sermon. Jesus’ first act as Messiah (other than being God incarnate) was literally an effort to keep the party going. All of his other miracles are clear signposts of what the coming Kingdom will be like: a place and time when there is no sickness or hunger, where death is just a memory. This one’s a Kingdom-signpost too.
The wine was wine. And it was really, really good wine. Even the sommelier was impressed, and thought that the groom had played some weird party trick and saved the really good booze for after everyone was already drunk. But we shouldn’t be surprised here – when Jesus makes something, he makes it excellently.
The water was water. Despite what you might think about the vanity of this act, it really was a miracle. God turned something into something else. This story is a full-circle re-telling of the time that God turned the Nile into blood. Back then, God turned something good into something destructive. Here, he’s turned something good into something better.
That water was dirty. Those six stone basins that they repurposed for this were also used that night to wash peoples’ feet as they came into the party. It’s pretty beautiful that these filthy vessels were used by God himself to make top shelf wine.
He made so much wine. For the sake of all their livers, I hope this was a really big party, because I did some math and Jesus made at least 600 bottles of wine (and this was after everyone was already drunk).
This is the gospel of the Lord.
[Image: Paolo Veronese. “The Wedding Feast at Cana,” 1563. Venice. Currently on display at the Lourve.]