Sunday 20 January 2013

Bible Book:

"Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine … But you have kept the good wine until now." (v. 10)

John 2:1-11 Sunday 20 January 2013


In John's Gospel, it is this famous story of the marriage feastat Cana that marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. In theother Gospels, Jesus' Baptism is followed by a time of testing inthe wilderness (eg Matthew 4:1-11) after which Jesus returns tocall disciples by the lakeside and begin his ministry ofproclaiming the kingdom of God (eg Matthew 4:17-22). But here in chapter 2 ofJohn's Gospel, Jesus' ministry begins at a family celebration.

The story tells how the wine runs out at the wedding (verse 3)and how Jesus is at first reluctant to respond when his motherturns to his for help (verse 4). But Mary persists and then, whenJesus tells the servants to fill the stone jars with water (verse7), miraculously it turns into the finest wine, so that thebridegroom is commended for saving the best till last (verse10).

It also introduces a number of themes to be developed later inthe Gospel. It shows first how Jesus' ministry comes to fulfil theas yet incomplete promise of Judaism. This is evident in thesymbolism of six stone jars (verse 6), one less than the perfectnumber seven, and the best wine being saved till last. (Indeedthere are interesting parallels with discussion of new wine and oldwineskins in the other Gospels (eg Mark2:21-22).)

Secondly, it shows how Jesus' family are in some sense involvedin his ministry from the start, as it is Mary's request that firsttriggers Jesus' response. Again at the end of his life it will beJesus' final words to Mary and 'the beloved disciple' that mark thebeginning of the new community which will bear his name after theResurrection (John 19:21-22).

Finally, as the evangelist records, this is the "first of hissigns" in which Jesus' glory is revealed. What is distinctive aboutJohn's account is the way in which Jesus' ministry is revealed in aseries of 'signs' which trigger discussion and reflection on whoJesus is; and which as the evangelist notes, lead his disciples to'believe' in him (verse 11).

To Ponder

  • How important are family celebrations in your life - and thelife of the Church?
  • Do we make the most of what are sometimes dismissed as 'ritesof passage' (ie baptism, marriage, funerals) in people's journey offaith? What else might be done?
  • Jesus is here recorded turning 'water into wine'; is there aplace for Methodism to consider relaxing its traditional teachingon alcohol? Why?
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