[These are my notes for Bible class this Sunday morning on John 2:1-12]
Imagine you are organising a party. What would constitute that party dying on its feet?
This story can often seem strange and really not worth bothering with all that much. But believe it or not, John as he tells us it has something huge in mind and I like that.
For John this is a story about the world being rescued. This is a story that tells us Jesus rescues parties.
Imagine you are having a party, a birthday party, and you run out of cake.
Imagine you are having a BBQ and you run out of meat.
They would officially be a disaster!
This wedding is a disaster and through Jesus rescuing the party we are being led to think that this story is more than we may think it is – this is a story about resurrection!
And just to be clear. Resurrection means dying but being given life back. Resurrection means bodies and earth and touch and sight and smell. Resurrection is something people are promised when they follow Jesus. Resurrection is something the world will experience because God loves the world.
In fact, John tell us,
“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.” John 2:11
But this isn’t simply about letting us know that “Jesus is God”; or as Ron Burgundy in Anchorman would say, that Jesus is “kind of a big deal.”
Revealing glory was connected to the signs Jesus would perform and that was, as we see here and throughout John, about making old things new, seeing heaven meet and change earth and history and life as we know it.
What is actually really cool is that immediately after this story we go to the temple, the place where Jews believed heaven actually met earth and there we find Jesus claiming that he is the place heaven meets earth (John 2:19). He is the place forgiveness and healing and new life are offered by God. He is the place where God’s glory is expressed to the Israel and the world.
This is why John actually, throughout his book, talks about signs; signs of a new world dawning in people’s midst, right in front of their face which was happening around Jesus. In fact, John says there are seven of them!
Now because John is awesome, when he tells us anything it is good to know he has rooted and connected it to something he sees as massively important from the OT.
For example John 1 starts with words that sound an awful lot like the first words of the Bible, Genesis 1.
That’s because it does and that’s because just as there were, for ancient Jews, seven days of creation, John sees in Jesus seven signs of the world being rescued and made new and changed, for life here and now and life here again later.
And this all begins and can be seen for John at a wedding, at which the wine runs out – stupidly early, on its first day, before anything could start.
Now, let’s remember, if wine ran out at a wedding it wasn’t just inconvenient, it was a nightmare! If the wine ran out at a wedding that family would be a laughing stock, their social credibility would be nil. Like we said a minute ago this wedding is a disaster!
A Jewish wedding was an extended celebration over several days. The whole town turned out, people from other towns would come along and join. Jewish weddings were a big deal, and this one was taking a turn for the worse.
Things have gone very badly wrong.
In the OT Israel is often referred to as a bride. Marriage and weddings were often seen as being similar to the connection between God and the world and his people. It was anticipated. But this party, this wedding had gone wrong. Sin had ruined the party. Sin had caused the celebration to grind to a halt. Sin meant both Israel and the world, and God himself, could not celebrate beauty, truth and goodness.
And so this wedding, in John, taps into that frustration and hope.
The wedding story is over before it has begun.
But then Jesus arrives.
And Jesus arrives on what day?
The third day!
Can you remember any other significant third days?
John is anticipating something here because that’s what signs do. They point, they direct, they show the way. This sign like the rest point us to the end of the story – to resurrection.
Jesus after a conversation with his mum directs the several servants to fill some jars with water.
“Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.” John 2:6
But these weren’t just any old jars. These were jars people washed in. They had to do with uncleanliness and sinfulness and the attempt to be made new, clean and presentable to God and others.
These jars were filled with water.
These 6 jars could hold 75 to 115 litres of water each.
In total there is something like at least 450 litres, perhaps 805 litres, of wine. Which works out at roughly 1902 or 3402 cups of wine.
That’s quite a lot. This wedding has now been flooded with wine.
This water is presented to the master of ceremonies and he tastes wine, really good wine.
Now imagine for a second. What has just happened here is a bit like
being offered Tesco cola and tasting actual Coke.
getting Tesco value lemonade and drinking, well, anything else because that stuff is dire.
This water, which is now wine, is celebrated as being of the highest order.
Knowing how and when the water became wine, isn’t so much the point because we can’t know that but more than anything, the significant thing is, and with this we follow John, the water that has become wine represents a resurrection.
With this sign the party is raised from the dead. Because when God makes things new, God does in thoroughly!
The celebrations which would have been postponed can continue because when God’s Word takes on skin and bones and walks around among people (John 1:14) this God gets wedding parties going again.
But not just your average wedding party, for John this wedding witnesses to a bigger wedding, a wedding of heaven and earth, of old becoming new, of what is broken and sinful being restored.
Where better for the sign of a bigger party that would soon be arriving to be anticipated, than at an actual wedding?
“Why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4
Jesus’ hour would conclude the signs. His hour would conclude the party. His hour would fuse heaven and earth. His hour would mark the beginning of all things being made new.
Because when Jesus was raised by God from the dead, it happened on the third day which was “the first day of the new week” (John 20:1), the first seven days of old creation were over, the first day of new creation had begun.
And when does all of this get set in motion? At a wedding, that starts on the third day.
And why a wedding for John?
Well, because weddings represented something.
Weddings represented the marriage of heaven and earth. Weddings respresented the relationship between God and Israel, and even the world.
This wedding had been stopped by sin (or the wine running out), just as this wedding in John 2 was dying on its feet.
Yet in Jesus John saw the man who resurrected the party, he saw the man who brought the noise, he saw the man who would make old things new.
This story rules because Jesus likes parties, Jesus likes good drinks, Jesus likes this world, Jesus likes you and me and Jesus wants each to enjoy the other. That’s why resurrection is vital because resurrection means parties start, resurrection means celebration.
This is why I try to be a Christian because resurrection says this world matters and that we get to join with God in bringing the party we call God’s kingdom to it.