Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11
“In water one sees one’s own face. But in wine one beholds the heart of another.” – French proverb
By changing water into wine Jesus is not belittling water, as if it needed to be upgraded. Water is still extremely significant in the bible. In Scripture we see water images in creation, in crossing the Red Sea, in the Noah flood, and especially in Baptism. The Cana story is not a conflicting message, but an additional different picture showing the shape of God’s kingdom. An understanding is found in the water jugs (see Greek below). They were containers set aside for rites of Jewish purification (John 2:6). Now they hold an abundance of fine wine. The point is that at one time we found access to God by means of ritual purification. Now we find our way to God through Jesus. However, let us not be critical of Judaism. Many of we Christians think that we have access to God merely by the externals of church ritual and membership. That only replaces one water jug for another. That was fine when we were little children. However, we all need to grow up spiritually. Not abandoning ritual, but also in our daily lives we need to be at the Cana wedding, feasting with Jesus, accepting the best wine, the best life. God is found in the bible, in church, and in prayer. But God is also found in everything. A further message in this story is that of abundance. We may think that there is just not enough in this life, not enough of whatever: joy, happiness, acceptance, fullness of living. We may wrongly assume that there is a shortage for the people of the world, and for any of us personally. Jesus does not accept this pessimism of scarcity. The time has come to drink the best wine.
In most translations John 2:6 says that there were six water jugs, each holding 20 to 30 gallons. That’s 120 to 180 gallons of water turned into wine. That’s pretty close to the Greek. However, being more precise, the Greek says there were 6 jugs each holding 2 or 3 “metratas.” Now, a metratas is not a precise liquid measure. It can be anywhere from 9 to 10 gallons. That’s each of the 6 jugs holding 2 or 3 metratas of 9 or 10 gallons. Doing the math, that’s a total of 108 to 180 gallons. So our English translations are fairly accurate without boring us with the details we find in the Greek. All said and done the celebration is endless; and the fullness of abundant life for us also has no end in sight.
Water once now wine!
Abundant life for us all!
A toast; lift the glass.