Do you want a life of water or a life of wine? Do you want a career of water or a career of wine?
This type of choice faces you very early on in the journey that John and Mary, the mother of Jesus, wants you to take. It presents itself at a wedding, but it is not part of the upfront wedding. It is played out behind the scenes, in the catering workplace.
You may well know the simple headlines. Wine runs out: waiters instructed to fill up water jars with a 180 gallons of water: chief waiter samples wine: chief waiter discovers 180 gallons of fine wine.
You are being asked to believe in the impossible, the unbelievable, the ridiculous. It is an outrageous event, containing a 180 gallons of surprise.
The key to this puzzling story is contained in one simple phrase. ‘Jesus (and his companions) was there’. Get used to it. When he’s there, nothing remains watery for long.
John’s gospel has already been warning you about this. The opening words go into to great detail about the word becoming human. The one who always was, has become the one who is here and now. What do you expect – coffee and a chat? If you read John’s opening words, you will have already been asked to consider whether you want darkness or light.
Look carefully at the first people who were asked the ‘What do you want question?’ and you will find the result of that dialogue was that they spent the day with Jesus. So by the time you get to the water and wine, you have been advised that the centrepoint is about the presence or absence of the Nazarene. John and Mary are telling you what they have known for a lifetime, namely, that when his friend and her son is there, everything changes.
So do you want the word become human to come to you? Do you want to spend your days with him? Do you want him to be there?
Arabs want freedom – rightly so – but what kind of freedom? Rioters want satisfaction – but on whose terms? Americans want prosperity, but who defines that? Indians want less corruption – but whose morals are in control?
Freedom, satisfaction, morality, prosperity – everything that we all want – everyone at the wedding wanted them as well. The choice that faces you is do you want the water version or the wine version?
Water is safe. Wine is dangerous. The servants know how to fill the jars with water. No one knows how to solve the wine problem. Water satisfies for sure, but wine frees the mind.
There is something subversive, challenging and downright risky about this Cana story. It is extravagant in the extreme.
Mary was clear, she wanted Jesus involved in this problem – she had made her choice 30 years before the Cana incident. She knew she wanted wine.
So here is your choice. If you want the water route, you can have it. If you want the wine route, you can have it – but if you want the wine, you have to choose so spend your days with him, to let him be there and to trust him for the outcomes.
Unlike the caterers, you can look back at his track record and see the spectacular, surprising and controversial nature of the wine route.
Before you finish reflecting on this episode, you might like to consider that once Jesus had chosen the wine route himself, his life was never going to be the same. This was his first public showing of his hand. This was the moment his life changed from carpenter to Rabbi. It was in this act that his life went public. Make no mistake, the wine route that he was choosing was very dangerous for him, yet he considered it essential for the fulfilment of his life’s purpose.
What do you want?
1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman,why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
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