Sunday

20 January 2019

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. (v. 1)

Psalm: Psalm 36

Background

This passage is full of symbolism. Starting with the day itself, John’s reference to the wedding being on the third day has no real bearing to chronological time. It is a reference to the end of the gospel when Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day. Perhaps this is what Jesus is referring to when he says that his time has not yet come. The fact that these events took place at a wedding are again symbolic; the image of a wedding feast represents the joy and celebration as God and the people are united in a loving covenant. The practical details are also alive with meaning. The use of the water jars that were provided for the Jewish rites of purification to contain the water that would be turned into wine speaks also of a new covenant in which the old laws of purification and transformed into the wine of God’s spirit given to God’s people.

And yet at the heart of this story are the very human activities of a wedding which runs out of wine and the expectation that people will get drunk during the celebrations. Alongside this is a mother telling his son what to do and the son seeming to resist being bossed around by his mother. There is a very real sense of God incarnate amidst the day-to-day lives of ordinary people.

Many people have struggled with the apparent rudeness of Jesus towards his mother. Why does he call her woman? Perhaps there is a patriarchal anxiety from the author about a woman bossing the Son of God around? Perhaps Jesus is saying that his relationship with her is based on membership of the kingdom of God rather than any sense of family influence. Whatever the reason, Jesus does as she requests and the servants take Mary’s advice and do as Jesus says.

John describes this as the first of Jesus’ signs whose purpose, we are told, is to reveal his glory and presumably to strengthen the reader’s faith. This is John’s stated aim for his Gospel as outlined in chapter 20:31.

 

To Ponder:

  • These signs were intended to reveal the glory of Jesus and strengthen faith. What strengthens your faith?
  • Consider how God was revealed in the mundane details of your life yesterday.

Bible notes author

The Revd Jonathan Mead

Jonathan is a Methodist minister, who works part time in the London NW Mission circuit and part time as a learning and development co-ordinator in the London District. He enjoys keeping fit, reading history and visiting Mediterranean destinations.