It could have been a disaster! Yet this story (John 2:1-11) has so much to say. Jesus took his disciples to a wedding – and we imagine he was a welcome guest. A bit of a celebrity, with a stock of stories to tell . . Perhaps we forget what a welcome guest He was.
Then disaster strikes – the wine runs out. We aren’t told why – whether it was thirsty disciples, bad planning, or delivery failure simply doesn’t matter. But who wants their wedding remembered for the catering disaster? There are all sorts of symbols here of things not working:
- 6 jars of water for ritual washing (not 7, the perfect number)
- Jesus’ mother is gently told not to manage his ministry – the old order is moving on to the new.
- Even the water (of washing) is about to become the wine of celebration – but that is anticipating.
The wine runs out. Jesus takes charge – the provision he will make involves some hard work, without people understanding what is going on. But the servants fill the jars with water, and draw it out to take to the master of ceremonies. And, to his surprise, its the best!
God provides; we don’t always see how (as here), and can’t often predict what is planned. Yet He makes the best of the situation – that’s worth remembering. Here is a wedding gone wrong, but
- Jesus, who refuses to do tricks to make himself look good, is shown to be kind (saving embarrassment) and affirms the importance of marriage by his presence and action.
- Jesus works a creation miracle, showing his power over the world he created. Not just good with people, is he?
- Jesus performs the first of 7 signs which John will carefully note in his gospel. Each reveals something important about Jesus, and so moves the disciples on in their understanding and commitment.
There are all sorts of sub-plots, in fact you can probably find some more for yourself:
- Here is The Bridegroom (Old Testament picture for God) at a Wedding, to start a new family
- Here is a human celebration running out of steam, but finding a greater celebration which works and keeps going..
- Here is wine, which the Rabbis made a symbol of Torah – Old Testament law, replaced by better from Jesus
You could get lost in the detail, all the symbolism, but this story is about a God who provides (though we don’t always understand how or why), and who provides the best. It is a sign of what is still to come – in gospel and in life – but one meant to encourage disciples. Even us!
(There is another comment on John 2:1-11 last year: The (first) sign, January 2017).