Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel for this week, from John 2:1-11, is a text very frequently used at wedding celebrations. The gist of it is that, while attending a wedding party, Jesus turns some water into wine, which proves to be the very best wine anyone can imagine. This passage is difficult to deal with, primarily because most of us already think we have exhausted it. But I’ll try to pull something useful out of it.
Please observe with me that in verse six the stone water jars are there for purification. Ceremonial washings were typical in Jewish homes which were dedicated to the Mosaic law. The fact that this household had six water jars and that each held about 20-30 gallons indicates that this is not only an observant home, but that it is a large household. This was not bathing water. It was water for purification. We can imagine that on a regular basis many people in the household would engage in a ceremonial washing that woule cleanse them from sin.
Again, note that upon Jesus’ command, the jars were filled with water, the normal substance that would be used within Judaism for cleansing. It was also, of course, something that could be used to quench thirst, but it would not be appropriate to drink this water once it was placed into the jars. They were special. Once you put the water into the jar, it was dedicated for its purpose.
See also that Jesus, and John the Evangelist, is vague about exactly what happens to the water. By the time it gets to the master of the feast, it is wine. It’s unclear whether the servants drawing it out of the jars found it to be water or wine when they drew it out. The specific timing of the change is not of consequence to God in the Scripture.
Finally, notice that this is a sign Jesus did to manifest his glory. It resulted in the disciples believing in him.
Many have made extensive comparisons of this miracle to Jesus’ atoning death and the symbolism surrounding communion. In communion, Jesus claims to give his body and blood to forgive. We don’t understand how the wine can also be blood, but historically Christians have accepted this statement, just as we have accepted the statement that the water became wine. We also don’t understand how partaking of the body and blood of Christ can bring forgiveness of sin, only that Jesus says it does. Again, historically Christians have accepted the statement, rather than trying to explain it. The jars are for purification. Jesus’ blood is for purification. Let’s see just one last element. There’s a whole lot of wine at this event. The master of the feast observes that the people have already had just about enough to drink. They can no longer tell the difference between good wine and not so good wine. But here Jesus makes anywhere from 120-180 gallons of very good wine. That’s a lot for any party, even from beginning to end. How much forgiveness does Jesus provide in his body and blood? He provides all that we might ever need. It’s overly abundant.
When Jesus is welcomed to our life’s events, we can know that there will be more than enough. What do we need? The big thing is God’s forgiving love. And it’s there, abundant and free. Jesus is welcome at the wedding.
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