Scripture Passage John 2:1-11
2On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Art: Mattia Preti, 1655, Oil on Canvas
Get the passage electronically at Oremus here: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=John+2:1-11&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Connect to Textweek resources here: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/jn2a.htm
Link here for Textweek resources for all the lessons this Sunday here: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/epiphc2.htm
Link here for Christ Haslam's reading of the John text: here: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/cpr02l.shtml
O God of salvation, the people in whom you delight hasten with joy to the wedding feast. Forsaken no more, we bear a new name; desolate no longer, we taste your new wine. Make us your faithful stewards ready to do whatever Jesus tells us and eager to share with others the wine he provides. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some thoughts this week about our upcoming lesson from John's Gospel on the Wedding at Cana
As we move into ordinary time, also known as the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, we have in the Gospel of John Jesus' first miracle at the wedding at Cana. We are going to see great things through the Gospel of John and we know that we will see and come to believe in even greater things after his resurrection. Remember, in John 1:50 - Jesus words to Nathanael: "You will see greater things than these."
We begin our passage today with these words: "On the third day..." (v1) Theologically Christ, the second person of the Trinity, is the image through whom all creation flows, and comes to be. Jesus is the incarnation of God and inaugurates in all the Gospels a new creation time. Here it is very possible that John is tying this theme to the creation story and its seven days. The "third day" is the third day after the first followers were called: Philip and Nathanael. So we have the evolving creation story renewing the world with the calling of new disciples and now a recreation miracle is about to take place.
The setting is of course a “wedding." (It was most likely a Wednesday if you are curious in that the Mishnah (Kethuboth 1) says that the wedding of a virgin is to occur on that day. R. Brown, The Gospel of John, 98). What is perhaps more interesting is that in the prophetic tradition of Jesus' own time, one of the images of the fulfillment of God's work, the coming of God's reign, and the recreation, was a Wedding feast. ( Isaiah 54:4; 62:4-5, Matthew 22:2-14; 25:1ff; Mark 2:19).
So it is that Jesus' first miracle is to take place at a wedding feast in Cana, just about 15 km outside of Nazareth, and Mom is in charge. It is possible that Mary's concern regarding the shortage of wine comes from the relationship with the families being married. Some might say that Mary is persistent, maybe to the point of frustration, because Jesus uses a word not customarily appropriate for a son to his mother. I believe this is a common misunderstanding and stems from the English translation. Interestingly, it is the same word he uses when addressing the Samaritan Woman and Mary Magdalene. Scholars remind us that this was actually a polite way for a man to address a woman at the time of Jesus and that it is attested to in other Greek literature of the day.
This very much changes the English reading of the text and allows us to see that it is not Mary's involvement in Jesus' ministry that is important but rather the revelation of Jesus' mission. His response in verse 4 is: “My hour has not yet come" or "Has my hour not yet come?” Both readings are ok, and help us to understand that the work of Jesus in and throughout John's Gospel is seen as the work of Glorifying God most of all. All that he does is to glorify God. This helps me to understand that both in the seemingly trivial things of life and in the great episodes the Christian, walking the way of Jesus, has the opportunity to glorify God.
Mary of course is assuming that Jesus will do something to meet the situation (v. 5). See also 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1. So she says, "do what he tells you."
There have been and will continue to be tons of paper expended on the ideas around the numbers given: six stone jars, and fifteen to twenty gallons. While the material they are made of (stone) may refer to Lev 11:29-38, the meaning of the numbers seems to miss the idea: a lot of water was turned into wine. Some scholars further want to de-mystify the event by changing the amount or offering the idea that only the water drawn out was
turned into wine. Again, this misses the point that Jesus turns a huge amount of water into wine quite miraculously.
This lesson was Friday, January 15, 2010's morning prayer New Testament reading, and a number of people in the office were struck by who the first witness of the miracle is and who proclaims the meaning of the miracle: the steward. The steward is the first to draw the wine from the containers, the first to taste the bounty of God, the first to see and experience the miracle.
In this God is glorified. The greater glory of resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit following the crucifixion is foretold and we see a theme that will serve as a road map through this gospel. Perhaps a foretaste even of the Eucharistic feast.
This story of Jesus' first miracle is dense and filled with theological themes and ideas about Jesus and his ministry. As I reflect on the passage I am reminded of the theological work of Clement of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Cyprian. Each one of them sees in this miracle a tie between water and wine in this story and other symbols in the Johanine Gospel like water, light and food for God's providence in Jesus -- the gift of salvation.
Having said all of this the themes that ultimately stand out for me are:
1. The charge as followers of Jesus to glorify God in the least and greatest of occasions along life's journey.
2. To embrace the call of others, the invitation to minister on behalf of Christ.
3. The expectation of the miraculous.
4. To be witnesses, like the steward who tastes and sees, and proclaims the goodness and bounty and providence of God.
The Lambeth Bible Study Method
Question #5 "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.
9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”