27 June 2014

John 2:1-12

“Jesus did this, the first of his signs, at Cana in Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (v. 11)


John describes the wedding at Cana as "the first of his signs", which speak about who Jesus is. In these "signs" Jesus shows how God breaks into ordinary everyday events and makes them extraordinary. The "signs" give Jesus' followers - then and now - a glimpse of how God wants creation to be. The stories happen in real life but they point us to a heavenly reality and speak about how "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14).

The story of the wedding at Cana is about transformation. It tells a very ordinary story of a wedding party, but the presence of Jesus as one of the guests makes what happened extraordinary. Mary tells Jesus that the wine has run out and she fully expects that Jesus will be able to do something about that. Mary does not badger Jesus, she simply tells him what has happened and then tells the servants to, "Do whatever he tells you" (v. 5).

To run out of wine at a wedding was a real disgrace for the host, which would bring lasting shame on the host family.  Rather than send someone out to buy more wine, Jesus takes the large, clay water jars used for Jewish purification rites like foot washing and asks the servants to fill them with fresh water. He then sends a sample of the water to the steward of the feast. The water, drawn from the family's well, has become the finest wine. There is no fuss and perhaps only Mary and the servants witnessed what Jesus did.

The obvious transformation is the water becoming wine, but this is not what John wants his readers to focus on. This "sign" points to the effect that Jesus has on the lives of ordinary men and women when we take seriously the words spoken by Mary, "Do whatever he tells you". Jesus came that we all might have life in all its fullness (John 10:10) and in this first sign Jesus gives us a glimpse of what God will do to transform the life of the world.

To Ponder

  • What strikes you about this story as you read it today? What are you noticing for the first time?
  • Reflect on times when you have been aware of God taking an ordinary life experience and transforming it in a way that gave you a glimpse of heaven. What have these experiences taught you about God?

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.