Can anything ever go wrong at a wedding? Yes! At one wedding the groom fainted, at another the bride’s dress got torn just before the service was to begin. I was at a wedding where the musicians arrived late, and another where no one could find the wedding rings. We laugh about it afterwards, because love always has the last word, no matter that one of the dancers crashed into the table and the wedding cake fell onto the floor!
Something went wrong at a wedding Jesus attended with his disciples. I wonder what went wrong? Let’s listen to the story.
Scripture Reading John 2:1-12 Page 859, LP Page 1511
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 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 10 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.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Message “Now, the Good Wine”
In my family I’ve attended the weddings of my two sisters and six of my cousins. And, of course, as a pastor I have been to dozens and dozens of them. When I was a teenager I was hired by our church to assist with six weddings! In additional to cleaning the sanctuary between each wedding it was also my job to ask each bride, “Are you ready?”, and then race down the hallway in the church basement and up some narrow stairs to where the organist was and told her, “We’re ready”. Then the first notes of the Wedding processional began to play.
I’ve attended a variety of weddings; some huge and elaborate with hundreds of guests and some are very small and simple. One was Mexican, one involved a Polish family, and one wedding was a Buddhist ceremony. I actually did a wedding once in a church hallway. There was a good reason for that, but the bride and the groom exchanged their vows right there, then we all signed the marriage license.
There was a wedding long ago in the village of Cana, about eight miles from Nazareth. Jesus was invited to attend, so I’m guessing that either the bride or groom was one of his relatives. It sounds like it was a large wedding, because Jesus also brought his mother Mary and his twelve disciples with him! We also know it was a large wedding because the wine ran out!
Have you ever run out of something? The first thing that comes to mind to answer my own question is running out of gas while driving. Have you ever glanced at your dashboard only to realize with horror that the needle was well beyond “E”? One time I rolled up to a gas station, but when it was my turn to pull forward I couldn’t because the gas had run out, so I had to push the car that last twenty feet. Other customers were quite amused to watch me!
What else comes to mind when I ask if you’ve ever run out of something? An empty refrigerator. An empty wallet. A run-down battery. Tired and no energy. Not enough patience, love or hope?
I thought of these kinds of situations when I was reading about the wedding in Cana. At first, Jesus was reluctant to step in to solve the problem, he explained that it was too early in his time to be doing stuff like that, but his mother insisted, and before you knew it Jesus had them bring in six large stone jars that could hold 20-30 gallons each, and then he had them filled to the brim with water. Then Jesus told them to give the contents a taste, and it wasn’t water, it was wine, and not just any old wine, but the best stuff anyone had tasted. It was a miracle! Something out of nothing! Wow!
What’s the lesson of the story? Well, one lesson is: always be sure to have enough wine on hand when you have a wedding! A deeper meaning is hinted at the end of the story: “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” John is saying, “This was the first of his signs and there are more to come, so don’t put the book down, keep reading!” Or more broadly it means, “When it comes to Jesus, there’s always more, always more to discover, he cam make something out of nothing.”
A sign is not the thing we see in front of us, a full glass of wine in this case, it’s what the whole story points to. So if you showed up at church this morning with your empty wine glass expecting a generous refill, you may be disappointed. This story is about wine, the good wine, the best wine, but it has something much greater than that to show you.
Think about your marriage (yours or one you know about): Has anything ever run out? Love, patience, joy, peace? Or, more broadly, think about a relationship that you have with anyone else. Has anything ever run out? We know what Jesus offered long ago in that little village wedding, as they brought out those six 30 gallon jars filled with wine. But what does Jesus offer to you today? God knows what you want, but even more God knows what you need. Take some time to think about your huge need, and then think about those big stone jars. God is ready!
One thing troubles me about this story. The wine ran out, so Jesus’ mother went to him to solve the problem. At first, Jesus says “no”. Has it ever felt that Jesus was reluctant to help you? Why would he be reluctant? Well, you could answer that by telling all the sad stories of your life, mistakes, missed opportunities, hurtful or hateful things you have done that would make Jesus reluctant to help you. But I think that if we know anything about Jesus, we know that he doesn’t hold the past against us, and he’s eager to help right now with a fresh start. So the real question is this, why do people like us often assume that Jesus is reluctant to help? We miss out on what he has to offer. Not just wine, but the good wine!
The story of the Wedding at Cana seems to be all about wine, but it really isn’t. It’s about everything we need. It’s not about Jesus’ reluctance to help, it’s our reluctance to trust him.
So it’s not about wine … but it is about wine. When we pass the cup today during Communion have a taste – really take a moment to taste it and savor it – we are reminding ourselves that what Jesus offered long ago during a moment of crisis in Cana is just as available to all of us now. Where you have come up short, God’s love never runs out. Taste it! Believe it! Share it! Enjoy it!