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Now That's A Miracle

John 2:1-11

The Rev. Jon Roberts

16 January


The Rev. Jon Roberts

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.


Miracle at Wedding Feast in Cana, stained glass,
Calvary Episcopal Church, artist unknown
In memory of Frederick Rupp, 1974

There are only two ways to live your life. One, as if though nothing is a miracle. The other, is as though everything is a miracle.[1]

In a homeschool class, about seven, seven year olds were reading about the seven miracles of Jesus (according to St. John). His first miracle was at the wedding feast in Cana. The teacher called upon little Olivia to describe what happened, who was always one to leave out no detail. The little girl’s focus mixed with imagination, always made it a joy to hear what she had to say. Olivia began, “Jesus and his disciples were invited to this wedding party, where everybody was having a great time. Then, something went wrong. They ran out of wine. Wine is important because everyone raises their glasses and wishes the man and woman to have the best of luck. Also, adults don’t need much of an excuse to drink wine at parties. Weddings are their favorites because there is lots of food, dancing and a lot of wine.

Well, Jesus’ mommy, Mary, was all upset and she came over to Jesus, who was just relaxin’ and said, ‘Jesus! We are all out of wine. You have to do something about it.’ I can’t imagine what Jesus thought about that with his mother puttin him on the spot. I know it makes me feel uncomfortable when my mom does it; like, ‘Mom, what do you expect me to do about it?’ Jesus could have gone to the store, with his disciples, to buy more bottles, but he didn’t. Instead, he saw all these jars over in the corner of the room. He asked the main waiter, ‘Hey, what are those for?’ ‘Cleaning’ says the waiter. Jesus looked at them, put his hand up, and ‘shazam’ he turned it holy, all into wine. Now that’s a miracle.” Olivia felt quite satisifed and took her seat. Mouths were open, especially the teacher. After a brief moment, the teacher then asked Olivia. “So Olivia, what did you learn from this lesson?” Olivia replied, “When I have my wedding party, I’m going to make sure I invite Jesus.”

Now that’s a miracle. The wedding feast in Cana was actually the first miracle Jesus performed, out of the seven mentioned in St. John’s gospel.[2] The last of course is the raising of Lazarus.
There are so many questions, such as whose wedding was it? Why did Mary go to Jesus to fix the problem? And, what was the importance of the water and the wine?

Whose Marriage was it? There are many hypotheses, but the best would be that the wedding was one of Jesus’ half-brothers. I use the word ‘half’ because as we know, Jesus’ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not Joseph. The names of his other brothers are mentioned in scripture. They are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.[3] Judas and Simon are not to be confused with the names of two of his disciples. In all likelihood, it was James, the second eldest, after Jesus. This is the same James who came to the scene at Pentecost and assisted mightily the spread of the Gospel. Some have postulated that Nathaniel, one of Jesus’ disciples had a sister or daughter, who may have been married to James.[4] Later in the Gospel, Nathan is said to be from Cana. This would likely explain why it says Jesus and his disciples were invited. If it had been simply Jesus’ kin, the disciples would not have been formally introduced. If Nathaniel’s sister/daughter married someone outside of Jesus’ family, why would he and Mary be invited. Mary would have obviously been concerned if she were the hostess, if the groom was her son. Tradition then was for the groom’s family to provide the reception, the wedding feast, following the marriage. In our day, what side of the family has the responsibility of the wedding reception? It is the bride, but in Hebrew custom it was the opposite. It was the family of the groom who gave the reception. Mary was not troubled by a lack of wine because she was afraid she would not get any. Her concern most likely was out of her obligation. We do not have any indication where Joseph was and it is argued that by the time Jesus was in his Galilean ministry, Joseph would have already died from old age.

Water and wine are both important elements in our worship. Water for the Baptism and wine for the Eucharist.[5] We use the word “Holy” in front of each term as through Christ they are made such through the instrument of the church, its clergy and yes, its laity…you. In the example of a wedding the two elements are married. Something important is going on here, not just for the couple who are joined as one flesh, but it also speaks to the micro relationship of our individual marriage to Christ through baptism and our macro relationship of our communal and historical marriage to Christ through the Eucharist. It is not too hard to break all three down, as long as you see each as a marriage rite, and each one is considered miraculous. What makes something holy? Is it when the priest puts his hands over the elements and says, “Shazam?” No, “by your Spirit, come into these elements, dear God.” The priest invokes Gods’ Spirit to enter and change the elements. Something that is natural into something that is supernatural. That is powerful and that is miraculous. Within the Eucharist, it is made holy when we invite God in, but we need to go further.

There are three ways to look at the type of marriage Jesus is calling us into.

The first, which becomes holy, is the obvious where a husband and wife become one flesh, where bride and groom come together, to forge a lasting commitment to complete one another. Are we not seeing the mirculous occurrence for ourselves, when these two, different people, come together and are willing to share their lives, meet in the middle and perhas, change over time?

The second is looking at the micro relationship between us and God and it is a marriage between each of us with God. When we call upon Him, into our lives, when we invite Him to give us strength and courage, we are vulnerable, accepting and ready for him to help us become holy.

The third type marriage is looking at the macro relationship between Christ and the Church; the groom and the bride. When we read from Isaiah today, the blessing is upon “her, my daughter” where the people of Israel wanted to be married to the Messiah. They did not know his name was Jesus at the time, but when they called upon his name, the nation came to life. The Temple, the church of God turned the culture into what was holy. When the name is blessed, the verb used is to “marry.”

When we as the couple, the individual and the church invite Christ into our presence, He can change anything. From water to wine, from hardness to love, to unforgettable to being redeemed. That’s the power of God. Jesus is taking your ordinary life into account and asking to be invited. If you do, you will see what it means to live a fruitful, blessed and married life. Such a marriage where we are bound to Christ, well, “that’s a miracle.”

[1] Albert Einstein
[2] John 2:1-11
[3] Matthew 13:55-58

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