Monday

18 March 2013

“When 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 and 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.’” (vv. 9-10)


Background

The turning of water into wine at a wedding feast, comes at the beginning of Jesus' ministry according to the narrative of John's Gospel, and perhaps helps to set the tone for all that will follow. It represents Jesus' abundant, transformative power, turning the ordinary into the special - water into the best wine of the feast!

John typically does not use the Greek word for an 'act of power', which we would usually translate 'miracle', but instead calls such occurrences 'signs', a word which the Old Testament uses of events or acts which show God's power through the prophets. So this event shows at the beginning of Jesus' ministry that this is truly a man of God, revealing the transforming grace of God through his life and deeds. This act, enabling the party to go on, is as much a sign of the kingdom as are the healing miracles which follow.

Jesus addressing his mother as 'woman' (v. 4) sounds shockingly disrespectful to our modern ears, but in context it is at worst neutral, and could even be affectionate. More interesting, perhaps, is the last part of Jesus' reply to Mary - "My hour has not yet come" (v. 4). John's Gospel usually uses this expression, "my hour", to refer to the events of Holy Week, at the culmination of Jesus' ministry, but perhaps here it refers more to that ministry as a whole, integrated entity.

The stone jars (verse 6) would have been a feature of Jewish households. As John's Gospel clarifies, they allowed for ritual purification. The residents of that household would use them to wash their hands and the bowls and cups they used for eating and drinking. The fact that they are made of stone is just part of the local colour of the story - stone could not become impure, and so was a natural material for the jars to be made from. The fact that the size is given adds to this colour, but also helps to emphasise the generosity of Jesus' provision, and the generosity of the grace which it represents. Jesus not only gives, but gives abundantly.


To Ponder

  • How has God's abundant, transforming grace been shown in your life? What gifts have you received? In what ways can you see God continuing to be at work in you and around you?
  • How do you show God's abundant, transforming grace in your prayer life, in your interactions with others, in the choices you make day by day and the ways in which you engage with the world? What else might you do?


Bible notes author:   The Revd Catrin Harland

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