27 February 2012

John 2:1-12

"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." (v. 10)


Jesus is at a wedding feast in Cana. And in Jesus' teaching, the image of a feast is frequently used to picture the kingdom of God.

John's Gospel uses references to "signs" (v. 11) which disclose the kingdom of God and "his glory" (v. 11).

Jesus' disciples share in this opening episode with him, along with his mother Mary who points out that "they have no wine" (v. 3).

The use of six large vats of water for ritual washing suggest that many guests are anticipated.

A controversy in the first Christian Community centred on the themes of purity, and what or who is clean/unclean. This is undoubtedly related to the Jewish roots of the first followers of Jesus (see Acts 101115Galatians 2). And many of the controversies around Jesus' ministry centred on this too (eg Mark 7).

The first "sign" in John's Gospel perhaps speaks first to these followers of Jesus. They are to focus instead on the transformation and celebration of life. After all this was why they first "believed in him" (v. 11).

Water changed into wine is not an encouragement to consume alcohol in excessive amounts. Rather it is a comment on the purpose of the ministry of Jesus and his disciples. The focus is to be on quality not mediocrity.

Jesus' ministry will offer nothing less than the best (verse 10). And he requires nothing less from his disciples. This is what will reveal the kingdom and the glory of God.

To Ponder

What distracts you/churches from offering 'the best' in ministry, worship and witness?

What does your discipleship reveal about the kingdom of God?

Bible notes author

The Revd Inderjit Bhogal

Inderjit Bhogal is a Methodist minister with a wide experience at local, regional, national and international levels. He is a former president of the British Methodist Conference and is currently working as leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.