I have a very wise friend who told me something about prayer the other day. She said all Mary did, at the wedding in Cana was to tell her son that they were out of wine. So many things are going on with this scene. It is at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It should be noted that he referred to his mother as ‘woman’ twice. This is the first time – the beginning. The second time was as he was dying on the cross, at the end of his ministry. It is an alpha and an omega, beginning and end.
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. John 2: 1-12
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there for a few days.
Weddings were a very big fat hairy deal, just as much then as today. A bride’s father would have set aside what was needed to put on a good show. Not to do so would humiliate the family. For him not to have adequately provided for his guests, would be the ultimate disgrace. It would be such a social faux pas he and his family would never recover. The man was wealthy enough to have servants and a wine steward. This is where I’ll mention that tradition says the people were relatives of Mary. There is something that is never uttered. It dare not be uttered. Jesus of Nazareth had very wealthy friends.
Joseph of Arimathea, who donated his tomb for Christ could only have done so if he were the titular head of the family. According to British tradition he was literally the wealthiest man in the world, owning the very tin mines in Britannia, which provided metal for Roman swords. Some tradition has it that he was of Roman Senatorial rank. He was too rich not to be. The story goes one of two ways, either Joseph was Mary’s uncle, or he was her second husband. Only the head of a family could claim a body.
This leads to my very favorite hymn, written by William Blake in 1804.
And did those feet in ancient time
walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
among those dark satanic mills?
Bring me by bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
till we have built Jerusalem
in England’s green and pleasant land.
There are some who see the miracle of turning water into wine as symbolic spiritual link between the ministry of Jesus and Moses turning the waters of Egypt into blood. The turning of the waters of Egypt of the Nile brought literal and physical salvation to the Children of Israel. The turn of water into wine foreshadows the Holy Eucharist, Last Supper, and the spiritual salvation of the Jewish people.
The wine, stored in six jugs that held anywhere from twenty to thirty gallons, was proclaimed to be far superior to the wine served earlier in the celebration. When our prayers are answered, our prayers are answered! Christ wants the best for us.
There are some fascinating take-aways from the story. First, Jesus liked a good party. Second, he drank wine, real wine. Third, he endorsed marriage. Fourth, he enjoyed having a good time with his friends. Fifth, his mother was a typical Jewish mother. She felt she needed to get out and give her son, the Messiah, a little push. Most importantly, this was his first recorded miracle, and it was about creating very good wine.
My friend’s lesson was just tell the Lord what we need. He will supply those needs. The problem is, that it takes a heck of a lot of faith and is a battle of nerves. I keep telling myself, constantly, that the Lord will supply what we need. Right now, I’m trying to live that battle of nerves. It shouldn’t be a battle. It is because I make it such. I am also questioning my approach. We are told not to test the Lord. I hope I am not testing. I have gone from great faith, to abject anger, shouting at God I’ve been so angry. I’ve come very close to losing my faith. I’m hanging on by my finger-nails.
We’re told that if we have the faith of a grain of mustard seed, we can move mountains. Mine is back up to the size of a sunflower seed. I do love my mustard, that’s for sure.
Of course, this is where we add the obsequious comment, I’ll drink to that!