Sunday 24th January 2021
Sunday of Epiphany
Readings:- John 2 1-11 and Revelation 19 6-10
In reality most weddings are occasions when nothing of any significance goes wrong. In our time and culture a wedding is usually a one day event which
is carefully planned with a select guest list. In contrast to this a Jewish wedding at the time that Jesus walked on the earth would be an occasion that would typically last 5-7 days. Autumn was the best time for marriages: the harvest was in, the vintage
over, minds were free and hearts were at rest. It was a season when evenings were cool and delightful and it was agreeable to sit up late at night. Usually the entire village gathered for a wedding, plus invited guests from further afield such as Jesus, his
Mother and the disciples would have been.
It was in this setting of joy and merriment that Jesus’ first miracle occurred, so it can be seen as part of a celebration of love.
However, it points to the supreme miracle and the largest celebration of love. One of the hints to this is that John begins this chapter with the words ‘On the 3rd day’. There is nothing which explains why this is the 3rd
day, every introduction prior to this states either, the ‘next’ day or the ’following’ day and we do not get a mention of a 4th day either. Then to add to this connection we only hear of Jesus’ mother twice in John’s
gospel, this is the first occasion and the next is beside the cross. So this first miracle was a jolly occasion, and over so many days there would probably have been many sore heads, lots of dancing and loud revelry, but also more time for things to go wrong.
It seems that this couple had guests who were very keen on drinking a lot of wine.
None of the other gospel writers record this miracle, despite we are told that all the disciples
were there. Perhaps they did not see it as very significant, but more of a bit of fun, in order to help people out of an embarrassing situation – what a brilliant guest Jesus was to have around! However, this was still a sign of the glory of Jesus,
which added to his disciples believing in him and Mary is also so convinced that her son will be able to help that she volunteers him for the job. It was not a healing or a matter of great importance and Jesus had not been approached for help, nor are there
any words over the water, so the servants are simply acting in faith. The situation not only shows that Jesus is in control, but it is also a sign; as John’s gospel calls it, as opposed to a miracle. Tom Wright says that John’s gospel is
like a treasure hunt, with clues or signs for us to follow which point beyond themselves to what they signify.
So what is the significance? Verse 6 is helpful in that it tells
us that it is the water jars for purification which are used. They can represent the old order of Judaism whereas Jesus is indicating that he will replace the old order with a new one. The new wine which is kept to the end is of superior quality and this is
something that the master of ceremonies questions. The superior wine is an example of what Jesus has to offer; God has kept what supersedes the old order until now, until the coming of Jesus. So on the surface a wedding is rescued, but looking deeper the miracle
symbolises the celebration of the arrival of the new messianic age of the coming of the Kingdom of God.