As followers of Jesus, we are meant to try and imitate Him in our lives. Sometimes this is quite easy like when we get to feed someone who is hungry. Sometimes it is hard like when we have to forgive someone who has hurt us. And sometimes it is just impossible like when we are especially inspired by His miracle at Cana when he turned water into wine. The closest I can manage is turning money into wine (which I’m quite good at)! But as our reading this week looks at this miracle, we need to look at what it means for us; those who cannot turn water into wine.
Weddings back then were big affairs and the celebration could involve the whole village and last for up to a week. It was a matter of honour that the host could provide for all the guests and so to run out of wine would be a source of shame. It could even be taken as a bad omen for the marriage. Jesus’ mother points out the lack of wine to Him and, as John records, Jesus takes the jars used to ritually wash guests and turns the water in them into the best wine ever tasted. John calls this the first sign, and as we know, signs always point to something else.
The prophets had spoken of an abundance of sweet wine as one of the signs that God’s kingdom was coming. So it is reasonable to presume that the creation of over 900 bottles of wine is a clear sign that the kingdom has come. Yet the method also merits some consideration. Jesus took traditional vessels used for ritual cleaning to create this wine; used them in a new way to be a sign of the new kingdom. It makes us ask what traditions do we cling to? What new thing is Jesus doing arising from the old traditions? What old thing that is repressive is being reinterpreted by Jesus to bring freedom and celebration? It reminds us that the presence of Jesus in our life is not a burden but a reason to celebrate. Through Him we are offered new life, freedom from ritual and tradition, and welcomed into the celebration of life that following Him brings. Let’s raise a glass to that.