Epiphany 3 - "Do what he tells you"
Third Sunday of Epiphany John 2 1-11
I just love this reading, it is the first recorded miracle that Jesus performed and it was at a wedding. It tells us that he was just an ordinary 30 year old man enjoying the same things we do. A bit sad that he was with his Mum but I am sure he was enjoying himself with his friends.
History tells us that weddings were usually held on a Wednesday evening. The couple would wear wedding robes and crowns on their heads and they would be treated like royalty – for this was the greatest celebration of their life. They would be led home through the town by torch bearers after the ceremony. They would not go away for a honeymoon but would have a party, which lasted a week.
Imagine the planning and catering that would have to go into that! There would be lots of guests often hundreds and they would all wash their hands and feet when they came into the house – so there were always huge stone water jars outside the door, each holding about 30 litres – BIG!
Jesus, his Mother and his disciples were at such a wedding party and I guess having fun. There would be singing, dancing, eating and lots of wine – nothing new there then, but suddenly disaster struck, the wine ran out.
Just imagine the embarrassment for the bride and groom and their parents, the party would have to close early. Then suddenly Jesus turns a very ordinary wedding into an extraordinary event. It was a miraculous sign. It was a life-changing day for every person at the wedding and a turning point for the disciples – they began to realise just who he was. John writes ‘and they believed in him.’ Somebody had switched the light on.
They saw first-hand a real miracle – Jesus revealed his glory.
Miracles are signposts.
They are of course an event in themselves but they are also a pointer to something else.
When we drive to Norwich and see the sign that reads Norwich A47 we don’t get out at look at the sign thinking ‘So this is Norwich’ – of course not; the sign is there to tell us which way to go and how far it is and so we keep on driving until we get there. In the same way, miracles although wonderful in themselves, are a sign – a sign of who Jesus is and the coming of his kingdom.
To pick up the story.
Mary tells Jesus what is going on – Mothers do that, they seem to be able to find out things and tell the right person to sort it out. Must be in the genes.
But there was no nipping down to Tesco’s for a couple of boxes – Jesus has to take what he sees, take what is at hand, take the ordinary and turns it into the extraordinary.
Can you just imagine what our reaction would have been if we had been there? ‘Look here you can’t use those jars, or that water, it’s for washing. Someone might want to wash their hands or feet and we won’t have any water. Those jars aren’t sterile, there’s no telling what is lurking at the bottom, remember health and safety. What do you mean you are going to turn it into wine you will have too much – what will we do with it all – there will be enough wine to float a boat – or drown the sorrows of mankind in a sitting – this party is going to get of out of hand and what on earth will it taste like, you don’t think we are going to give it out do you?’
But Jesus did just that - he turned water into wine
This was the first miraculous sign that he performed. Not in a church, not in a religious setting or to the holy people of the time, but in a social setting to all and sundry at a week-long wedding rave.
This was the new wine.
Jesus performed the miracle two thousand years ago to usher in his kingdom and he still wants his kingdom to come in the ordinary, in the pubs and clubs, in the highways and byways – this time it will be us taking him with us, being Church, being kingdom. How will we do this? By transforming the water of duty into the wine of love, by transforming the water of bored consumerism into the wine of giving and by transforming the water of the old covenant into the wine of the new covenant.
Water to wine, what do we need then - it only needs water, grapes and time ferment.
Grapes from the vine, which is Christ, and fermenting which is our abiding in him and time.
Water to wine -
Jesus urges us ‘don’t settle for dull, stale water but long for the wine of my presence.
Don’t make do with the ordinary when you can have the extraordinary.
It is so easy to settle for mediocrity and drift along from one dull day to the next when Jesus longs for us to be filled with the new wine of his presence and power.
There is a key to this miracle. You will find it in Verse 5
Mary, Jesus’ mother, said to the servants at the wedding ‘Do what he tells you’
If the servants had ignored what Jesus had told them to do there would have been no miracle. But amazingly they did as they were told. – And the same holds true for us today.
We have the word of God; we have the code of practice for living. It can be summed up in six words:
Love God and Love your neighbour.
This is what he has told us to do.
Water into wine
Turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Jesus taking his disciples to the wedding is our hope. In changing the water into wine, Jesus reveals that he wants to change the waters of our broken humanity into the joys of wine – today.
Just as he needed the faith, trust and hard work of those servants who filled the six stone jars to the brim with water, He needs our trust and our belief.
He need us to work at this inner transformation and live our human life to the brim. This is not reserved for the wedding feast after we die but begins as we enter fully into a relationship with him of trust which will grow and deepen, until we discover that we are the beloved of Jesus and that he is our beloved as well.