Friday, January 12, 2018

John 2:1-11 – Water to Wine: A Wedding Story

I come to this story, vignette, feeling that it is all too familiar. What new do I see here? What connections can I find? How do I tell this story anew? What does this—water to wine—have anything to do with our lives today?

“On the third day....” Third day of the week? Third day after the Jesus-Andrew-Peter events of 1:35-42? I’m not convinced that understanding the ‘third day’ makes or breaks our preaching of this passage. Best thing is, Jesus & Co. were there!

Wedding. In a previous post, I wrote about the power of words, that words convey ideas...and ideas usually take the form of images in our minds. We need to take the time to talk about 1st Century weddings. This was not a nice, clean, virgin white and black tux affair. The ‘betrothal’ –the real wedding agreement—took place months earlier between the families. Dowries were paid, agreements reached...then, she stayed home and he stayed with his family. Now, it’s time for the consummation and celebration of the familial agreement. These weddings usually lasted 5 – 7 days! So, this is a big, long, feasting, celebrating, loud, drinking, eating event. To run out of wine—that’s bad news. It’s like having a Super Bowl party at your house and running out of snacks and drinks before half-time. That would be embarrassing. This situation in John 2 could be the social disaster of the year that is talked about for decades! “Yeah, remember when Benjamin’s family ran out of wine on the third day of his son’s wedding?! Ha,ha.... Wow... How could they let that happen?” Might have been social suicide. So, Jesus steps in. Wine appears. And all is well.

What part does Mary play in this wedding? Is she the caterer? Is she related to the family? She seems to have a voice of authority in this setting, but John the Evangelist doesn’t think we need to know her part. Okay....

Jesus turns the water to wine. I serve in a tradition that has as many conservatives as liberals. Some folks are going to question whether Jesus turned this water in “wine” or simply ‘grape juice.’ Some will not want this to be real wine. (I hear a real whine.) So, I’m going to state what I believe and what archaeology & church history indicate: Jesus turned the water into wine. This is not the issue of the story or the miracle. He could have turned it into Coca-cola or iced-tea. But, if I were at the wedding, I’d be happy that it was wine.

So what? What’s the big idea or big ideas here??
1) Jesus is not just about the ‘spiritual’ issues of our lives. He is concerned about the common, the ordinary...things like whether we have enough wine for our guests. He is about redeeming ALL of our life...not just the interior, prayer, soul-related stuff that we may be too tempted to focus on. This makes me think of those folks who get it, who have enough faith to pray for their car when it doesn’t start, to pray over electronic devices that don’t work, to pray for food for the rest of the week, to pray that their child can have shoes for school. They’re not ‘crazies;’ they simply get what we may not have gotten—Jesus is concerned about the ordinary, common things of life.

2) How are we doing as a church, as Christians, when it comes to turning water into wine? How are we doing about taking the ordinary and—by God’s grace and power and gifts—turning it into something that has body, color, texture, depth...that brings joy and levity...that takes the edge off of life? Are we content with ‘water’...and forcing everyone else to be content with water? Or, are we stepping in where we can and bring about joy-making, face-saving, reputation-reviving, respect-giving, honor-bestowing changes in the lives of others?

Jesus had just promised his disciples that they would “see greater things” (1:50). I guess Jesus is taking us along in baby-steps. Let’s turn some water into wine....

Happy Preaching!

(Go HERE to read my intro to this series.)

No comments:

Post a Comment