At a party – a wedding party, no less – the traditional first century beverage was the blood of the grape, distilled and refined and served with generosity.
Jesus, his mother Mary and friends were in attendance at one in Cana of Galilee (way up on the wrong side of Samaria and a good walk from home in Nazareth) when the wine ran out.
Respectfully – as was the custom of the time, no doubt – she actually made no request. She simply went to Him and shared with Him the bad news: “They have no more wine.”
Did He divine her thoughts? Did He have to, or did He just know what she wanted as a son knows a mother’s heart? He answered her fondly: “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.”
She had planted the seed. Whether He stood there or moved on, we aren’t told. But she turned to the servants and told them: “Do whatever he tells you.”
Was Mary just concerned about friends hosting a wedding party who were suddenly in an embarrassing situation? Did she just have confidence in His ability to stealthily pass the hat? Were the guests already soused and rowdy, and apt to riot if the news became known? Had she seen Him do something supernatural and super-quickly to stem an emergency before? Was she pressing Him to make himself known? To reveal His glory so His friends would believe in Him? That seemed to be His interpretation.
It certainly was the one which proved true. As obedient to His mother as He was to His Father, He looked around for an opportunity and spotted six big 20- or 30-gallon stone jars nearby, usually filled with clean water for dipping out to wash one’s hands during the long wedding party. This late in the party – the guests doubtless overstaying their welcome when the wine ran out – the jars were no longer filled. He told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled each one to the brim. Then He told them to draw some out and take it to the caterer.
Does it matter to you or anyone else whether the miracle was in the pouring or the dipping or the tasting? Did it matter to the servants, or to Jesus, or to Mary? What was the caterer’s opinion?
The caterer tasted what was brought to him, and was probably pretty well put out. He didn’t know where it came from, and he didn’t deign to ask the servants. So he pulled the bridegroom aside and told him that most people bring out the good stuff first and then the cheap stuff later, after everyone has already had too much to drink. “But you’ve saved the best stuff till now!” he exclaimed.
The best stuff.
Kegs of it. Maybe 120 – 180 gallons. Enough to keep the party going a long, long time.
Don’t get me wrong. This is no diatribe in defense of overdoing it with alcohol. It’s not a demand to serve wine rather than grape juice in the cup you drink from during Communion. It’s just an interesting situation to me.
The Son of God chose to perform His first miracle at a wedding party in Cana of Galilee, and He chose to exchange water for wine. Not cheap wine. But the good stuff. The best stuff.
His mother wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It wouldn’t be the last miracle He performed while in that body. In fact, for His last one He chose to exchange death for life. Not cheap, watered-down, sour, vinegar-y ‘take-away-a-little-pain- while-You’re-dying-on-a-cross- as-Your-mother-watches-You-bleed’ life. But the good stuff; the eternal stuff; the stuff that lasts and is worth having forever. The best life.
His Father wouldn’t have approved of anything less.
– from the account in John 2:1-11
(Nagged by a comment made by Fred Peatross on his blog months ago that Christian bloggers don’t seem to talk about Jesus very much, I’ve decided to start a new blog to pursue the quest started here. You can find it at this link: What Would Jesus Do Next?)