There is a delightful Riding Lights drama about the Wedding at Cana in Galilee. The actor playing the part of the Master of Ceremonies at the feast is seen on the phone in a back room talking to a friend. In a piece of one-upmanship he is boasting of the fact that the Teacher from Nazareth, about whom so many are talking, is there at the wedding.
However, his bubble bursts as he overhears that, with so many guests now, after several days of feasting, horror of horrors, the wine has run out ! To add to the sense of impending disaster he also catches sight of members of his catering staff carrying jars of water to give the thirsty guests, in lieu of wine !
With visions of professional disgrace as a Master of Ceremonies and with thoughts of crowds of disgruntled guests putting in official complaints, in his stress he calls for a glass of the water to cool his nerves as he prepares for the worst.
The sketch ends with him drinking the water. As he does so, his eyes immediately light up. This is not water but wine – the very best he has ever tasted ! The catering firm’s reputation and the success of the wedding festivities is saved because ‘Jesus was there’.
The Gospel account does not tell us whether this man, or the guests discovered what had actually taken place. The disciples certainly did, for it says ‘This first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples believed on him’ (John 2:11)
How wonderful that Jesus chose to ‘beautify and adorn marriage’ (as the Church of England Wedding Service puts it) by performing his very first miracle there in the homely setting of that wedding in Cana. Had he not been invited it could all so easily have been such a disaster, but instead Jesus’ presence ‘saved the day’ as it so often does in other aspects of life.
It was for those first disciples just a glimpse through the curtain hiding Jesus’ glory. We should make the most of such brief moments of glory, as they can help tide us over those longer periods of life when nothing seems to be happening and we have to ‘walk by faith, not by sight’. We shall only fully ‘see him as he is’ when we are with him in glory.
This miracle reflects the ‘homely’ side of God. He is interested in every aspect of our lives. Jesus was always surrounded by crowds of ordinary people, and he was regularly being invited to festivities, he was such a popular figure. Where he went, joy and celebration followed. Jesus’ presence always has the effect of turning the dull water of life into the fresh new wine of the Kingdom of God. It happened at Pentecost with the Spirit-filled believers. It is still happening today.
The transforming presence of Christ can put the sparkle back into my life. So out with the old and in with the ‘new wine’ of the kingdom of God.
Here Dennis Lennon is commenting on the Wedding at Cana when Mary brought the problem to Jesus, saying ‘They have no more wine’:
‘It is our duty to bring Jesus everything, including our emptiness, and ask for ‘Cana’ again. Do you feel you cannot praise him right now? Ephrem, the great poet in the Syrian Church, took this emptiness to Christ: “I have invited you Lord, to a wedding-feast of song, but the wine—the utterance of praise—at our feast has failed. You are the guest who filled the jars with good wine. Fill my mouth with your praise”.
The Miracle at Cana
Here’s an epiphany to have and hold,
A truth that you can taste upon the tongue,
No distant shrines and canopies of gold
Or ladders to be clambered rung by rung,
But here and now, amidst your daily living,
Where you can taste and touch and feel and see,
The spring of love, the fruit of all forgiving,
That flows when you need it, rich, abundant, free.
Better than waters of some outward weeping,
That leave you still with all your hidden sin,
Here is a vintage richer for the keeping
That works its transformation from within.
What price? You ask me, as we raise the glass,
It cost our Saviour everything he has.
‘Miracle at Cana‘ by Malcolm Guite