“On the third day, there was a wedding…”
This is how John begins to tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth turning Cana well-water into fine wine. It was his first recorded miracle.
One of the tragedies of our modern time is how few people bother to read or listen to God’s own word. Many spend time reading and listening to books, blogs, articles, podcasts, and sermons about God’s word, but few engage with it directly and fully themselves. Why is that, I wonder?
One reason is that many of us are tempted to believe that we wake up each day to a funeral.
Clearly from all accounts we see in the media, the world is in a near-constant state of mourning. Corruption and violence have killed our collective hope for true justice and real peace in our lifetime. Too many hearts are hard and too many inclinations are evil. What can reading God’s word do in light of all that? How can it really help me?
John reminds us: “On the third day there was a wedding…”
I need this reminder: Everything in God’s word points to a wedding feast, and not a funeral.
The covenant God who vowed to love his people from the beginning has come to them as a bridegroom comes for his bride. He will never leave her, always love her, fiercely protect her, tenderly provide for her, and always do what’s best for her – in this life and the next.
The wedding at Cana in John 2 describes an event that had potential to cause sincere mourning and pain rather than joy. The day could have ended in deep regret, with the helpless host’s clear lack, loss, and humiliation made painfully obvious to everyone present.
The family of the bride was not able to provide enough wine for their loved ones to fully celebrate a new life together. What a cringe-worthy and unfortunate shame to both her and her parents! But I can identify, can’t you? Like the wedding hosts who are stunned to discover that their wine has run out, I also realize daily that my best plans for joy in this life have fallen woefully short.
I’ve not been able to provide the rich feasting I had hoped for my people. My own lack – my personal inadequacy in so many things – might actually have impoverished those I truly love and hope to help. I thought I had enough good wine to go around. I hoped to have an ample supply of personal goodness to make everyone’s heart light and glad.
But I don’t, it seems, and I’m tempted every day to mourn. And so God’s living word speaks again and again against the temptation to despair: “On the third day there was a wedding…”
Ah yes. God has come into the world, not to preside over a dirge, or a fast, but to begin a kingdom feast! Because of Jesus, I am rescued. As host of the wedding feast he doesn’t ridicule my helpless and anxious state. Instead, astonishingly, Jesus fills up all the obviously empty containers with a fine and fragrant wine, and then presents them as a precious offering to God.
Jesus has come to us, and this is why we read and listen to God’s word. Because everything in the scriptures is about him, not us. He is the wine. He is the host of the feast. He is the bridegroom at the marriage supper of the Lamb. He is the Lamb!
Jesus of Nazareth is the endless supply of real and true life, given freely to those who would humbly offer their empty vessels for him to fill.
Jesus fills us up with his own spirit. Why? So we can be his body in the world. So we can offer a taste of his extravagant goodness to those in our midst. So we can be a generous, joyful, and confident people – knowing that as much as we pour out this life on others, his wine will never run dry.
This is my own body, given for you my beloved church. This is my own blood, poured out for you my precious brothers and sisters. Eat and drink your fill – feast on my bread and wine – for it will never run dry!
“And on the third day, he rose again…”
I have come to you; humbled myself; obeyed my father; conquered suffering and death and the depths of hell; risen again, and filled you with my own spirit, so that you might live in peace and communion with me, and with one another, now and always.
Peace today as you feast on God’s living word. For it was given with great love and expectation for you and yours.
Remember me and abide in me. For I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth.
*image from Kevin Mullins photography, Uptown Gentleman (uk.)