Monday

7 January 2019

John 2:1-11

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

Psalm: Psalm 103

Background

Today’s reading tells of the miraculous transformation of water into wine at a village wedding in Galilee. A few verses earlier in John 1, Jesus was in conversation with Nathanael, who came from this village (John 21:2). Initially sceptical, Nathanael was convinced by Jesus’ words about him: an Israelite in whom there is no deceit. Jesus replied, “You will see greater things than these – you will see heaven opened” (vs 50–51).

Jesus makes good on this promise in the very next scene of the Gospel. A huge amount of water (maybe 150 gallons) is turned into wine, and the steward’s words (v 10) confirm that this is the best wine of all. Where a local family faced shame, now their reputation is made for life. But Jesus’ concern for their domestic crisis is just one strand among many in this story.

Some scholars argue that this miracle reflects the way in which Jesus challenges Jewish tradition and offers a new way of living with God. The six jars fall one short of seven, the number of perfection ever since God made the world in seven days. These six jars are filled with water, essential for rites of purification, but the water is replaced by the best wine, a gift of the kingdom.

John links this story with the cleansing of the Temple (John 2:13–22). Here too, Jesus offers a new way of worshipping God, moving away from the traditions of sacrifice. However, there is far more in this story than a mere critique of the old ways. Jesus is drawing on tradition in the Hebrew Bible which celebrates the joy of belonging to a wonderful God. Amos wrote, “The time is surely coming, says the Lord … when the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills will flow with it” (Amos 9:13). Rivers of wine are a sign that God’s kingdom is here. Heaven is opened, Israel’s deepest hopes and dreams are being fulfilled, Jesus’ glory is revealed, and the celebration is marked by wine in abundance.

 

To Ponder:

  • What would be the best way for you to celebrate the arrival of God’s kingdom – rivers of wine or something completely different?
  • How does this story help us understand more about Jesus’ glory?

Bible notes author

The Revd Caroline Wickens

Caroline is a Methodist presbyter, currently serving as superintendent of the Manchester Circuit. She is married to Andrew, an Anglican priest, and has two children.