The topic of this sermon has to do with the lectionary passage of John 2—the wedding at Cana.
The story is so familiar to us. Some refer to the gorgeous painting of the Marriage of Cana by the Italian painter Paolo Veronese, now at the Louvre. Well over one hundred people are drawn in the painting, including the painter himself!
The gospel account begins with a note that Jesus’ mother was there. We are not told why she was there. It seems all went well except one major crisis. The wine gave out in the middle of the party. The wedding celebration was about to be over abruptly. A disaster was brewing.
The mother of Jesus says to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus’ mother’s involvement leaves none surprised, but Jesus’ answer does. First, in his reply, Jesus calls his mother “Woman.” It sounds very bad in English, but in Greek that may have been an expression somewhere between “mom” and “ma’am.”
The next part is no less puzzling. “What concern is that to you and to me?” That is quite elegant even in Greek, but some suspect that it is equivalent of saying, “Why me?”
“My hour has not come.” This reminds us that the gospel story points to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The plot of mystery thickens, when she says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” A Jewish mother came forward and clarified this exchange, when she said, “All Jewish boys come around in the end and do what their mother asks them to do.”
Whatever the mother-son dynamic is at work here, Jesus tells them to fill the six stone water jars with water. A jar for the rite of purification, also known as miqvah to this day, holds about 30 gallons water. Since the water is turned into wine, some smart people have done the math and computed up to 180 gallons of wine.
A far more interesting item is John’s comment on the wedding practice. They bring out the bad wine after the guests are drunk. The head steward seems to be not only relieved but also impressed. This wine was better than the first. With Jesus, everything becomes better.
John records that this is the first public ministry he did: Jesus’ ministry at the wedding at Cana is a sign. We will know what Christianity is about when we receive this story. Jesus comes and let the celebration of life continue. According to John, Jesus did this, and his disciples saw and came to faith. The gospel account invites us to come and join the celebration Jesus helped to continue.
(c) Rev. Jin Han 2013