On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. (John 2:1)
Did you ever wonder why, in the Gospel of John, Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding?
In the opening words of the marriage ceremony in the Book of Common Prayer, we read that “our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee.” I don’t believe, though that Jesus performed this first sign at a wedding to somehow promote or celebrate weddings and marriages. I believe he performed his first sign/miracle at a wedding because there were a lot of people there.
You see, weddings were public events and the celebrations associated with first-century weddings could last for days. In scripture, weddings were often symbols of the restoration of Israel. Isaiah tells us that on that day, all people will enjoy “a feast of well-aged wines” (Isaiah 25:6). Wine is a key character in this narrative. By turning water into wine – in having control over the water/wine switcharoo – Jesus is claiming his own identity as the ultimate restorer. He is the God-One who comes into the world and brings life to all. Right there, in front of everybody, Jesus puts forth a vision for the Kingdom: that all should have enough, and have access to the good stuff.
If you’ve ever prayed with Rainey, you may recognize the connection between this story and the ending of her prayers. “We pray in the name of the one who came that we may have life,” she says, “and have it abundantly.” The story of Jesus’s great showing at a wedding reinforces his primary mission: he comes to offer life and joy and justice in abundance.
What does the reign of God look like? This story shows us. As one scholar writes, “[The reign of God] is like a village wedding celebration to which everyone is invited and at which everyone is surprised by the abundance and quality of wine. This first sign shows us that the true bridegroom has arrived (John 1:29), and he is truly the life of the party” (Elisabeth Johnson, Lutheran Institute of Theology).
Where do you notice abundance in your life? Are there places of abundant life and abundant living that you take for granted? Where would you like to experience and/or share more abundance?
See you in church,