The Wedding at Cana
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When 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 and 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.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there for a few days.
John’s Gospel was written much later than Matthew, Mark and Luke. It was aimed at a wide audience, primarily for Christians, who included Greeks. The ‘signs’ (called ‘miracles’ in the other Gospels) are not included for their own sake, but to convey a deeper meaning, filled with symbolism.
The passage preceding today’s reading is the encounter between Jesus and Nathanael and concludes with Jesus telling Nathanael that he will see greater things. And John 2 begins with the first of the ‘signs’.
The significance of the ‘third day’ is that this was the day of resurrection, the first day of the week, which symbolised a new beginning. A wedding, a joyous occasion, was also a symbol of a new beginning. In those days weddings could last for up to seven days. Wine was important, even though people did not get drunk. Running out of wine would have been very embarrassing for the host, since the rules of hospitality were taken seriously. The water jars, holding between 100-150 litres, would have been used for washing people’s feet on arrival and for hand washing between courses. Water, though necessary, is colourless, odourless and tasteless. Wine, on the other hand has color, flavour and a particular smell, which connoisseurs call a ‘bouquet’. It seems as if only the steward and the disciples knew what had happened. John does not describe how Jesus did it, for that was not John’s purpose. Instead, there is the symbol of new beginnings, transformation; using something ordinary and changing it into something extraordinary.
Blessings as we pray that we too might experience a “new beginning.” Be safe! Be well! The Spirit has come!
- The idea of transformation has become quite a buzz word these days. How do you understand transformation in the light of this passage?
- Jesus took something which was ordinary and changed it into something which was extraordinary. What significance might this have in your life of faith?