John 2:1-11 (NIV)
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
This scripture, to me, is surprising. First, the dialogue reveals an unexpected dynamic in Mary’s relationship to Jesus. Second, at first blush, this “sign” appears to be more like a parlor trick than a serious miracle worthy of Jesus. However, this sign is meaningful and important. The Gospel author uses this first of seven “signs” to launch Jesus’ public ministry delivering the good news that the “Kingdom of God is at hand” – or in the words of the Lord’s Prayer, that God’s will is about to “be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Symbolism in this passage, which would have been apparent to early Christians, relates the wedding feast to the Kingdom of God. (cf Matt 22:2) Scholars have identified numerous symbols in this passage. Here are a few examples: A Jewish wedding feast, often a week-long celebration with good food and wine, represents the joy of the Kingdom of God. Wine was associated with the Kingdom of God (Isaiah 25:6). Wedding guests without wine represent people without the joyful experience of God’s Kingdom. Empty stone ceremonial jars represent people ignoring God, worshiping without passion, or just ignorant of God’s will. Servants are the Church. Water is the Word. The extraordinary volume (120 gallons) of wine produced by Jesus demonstrates the abundance of God’s love. Whatever the specific symbolism intended, or that we choose to read into the passage, this remarkable event demonstrated that God was present and acting through Jesus that day, and convinced Jesus’ new disciples to believe in Him.
God, please help me to really believe that Your Kingdom is present here on earth, to understand the abundance of Your love, and to be passionate in showing Your Kingdom to all.
Links to paintings of the wedding at Cana:
By Veronese, 1563; https://www.italian-renaissance-art.com/Marriage-at-Cana.html