Jesus, the winemaker. I bet anyone who attended Sunday school knows what Jesus’ first recorded miracle was. He turned water into wine. It is easy to miss the point in this passage. Many people have often
used abused this account in Cana to make a case for drunkenness. Others have gone to great lengths to prove that the wine made by Jesus was not alcoholic. These are just a few examples of how we can twist scripture to fit our rigid religiosity. But there’s something utterly liberating about this account of Jesus at a wedding. Personally, I am not so much amazed that Jesus turned water into wine as I am amazed that Jesus was at a wedding in the first place.
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” [John 2:1-3]
No. Jesus did not just attend the ceremony and leave. He stayed for the reception. And after this, he attended the evening party – which is often a not-so-Christian part of the wedding day. He was there, with his friends, eating and drinking – not tea, but wine. I bet he even had a turn dancing with the bride. No, please don’t sanitize this story. Don’t make Jesus the wedding officiant. He was a guest, just like everyone else. Maybe he didn’t even know the bride and the groom personally. Maybe he just accompanied his mother, Mary. Who knows, perhaps he even crashed the party! Okay, he didn’t. The Bible actually says he was invited (check the verse above) 🙂
Forgive me. I guess I am just too excited by the notion of a holy and sinless Jesus attending a wedding party full of sinners and drunks. I know that there were drunkards there because the wine ran out so fast. If this was an invite-only wedding, then some people must have drunk the wine irresponsibly. But as I revisited this miracle today, something else struck me as enlightening. This is not just the first recorded miracle of Jesus. It was also the first recorded incident of Jesus eating and drinking with sinners and drunkards. The fact that he was even INVITED says a lot. Someone must have known that Jesus had no quibbles with RSVP’ing wedding invitations. That’s why Jesus’ words to those who later on called him a drunkard are quite sobering:
“To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, ‘we played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” [Matthew 11:16-19]
Indeed, wisdom is justified by her deeds. No need to water down the scandal of God’s grace. The world will know you by your grapes, you know.
I invite you again to consider the incident at Cana. For just a second, forget about the miracle of turning H2O into C2H5OH and consider the scandal of a holy and righteous God not only eating with, but also feeding, sinners and drunkards. That’s the greater miracle.
Jesus is the life of the party. His body is the bread and His blood is the wine.
Will you let Him turn the water in your gospel into wine?