This is the first miracle of Jesus recorded in John's gospel. The sharing of the abundance of wine sounds different to the ear of those in the 21st century. Although many people enjoy drinking wine, it is not the beverage of choice for the majority of Americans. The Hebrew scriptures spoke against alcoholic excess but the culture of Jesus would not have understood the temperance movement of the 20th century largely because of the lack of a healthy alternative.
|Carrie Nation who physically attacked|
drinking establishments, wielded a
hatchet in one hand and a Bible in the other!
There was the old anecdote of the Christian teetotaler who abhorred any alcoholic beverage.
Her friend reminded her, "Well, Jesus drank wine. In fact, making wine was his first miracle!"
And then the teetotaler responded, "Yes, and I've never really forgiven him for it!"
This focus on the subject of the miracle may distract us from the importance of the abundance of the gift. Such a large extravagance would remind readers of the miracle of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath when she is supplied with meal and oil that would provide through the drought. It also is reminiscent of Elisha's miracle of the abundance of oil to keep a widow's children from slavery.
The miracle of wine reminds us of the abundant grace we receive during Holy Communion. John's gospel doesn't have any recount of the Eucharist but this gift of wine is also accompanied later by a miracle of bread. Bread and wine remind us that the basic need of food and drink are provided by God. Christians reflect that we receive fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
Rather than seek an explanation for the miracle or write it off as implausible, it is much better to seek to reflect on times of abundance in our own lives. Sometimes it is surprising. Other times it may be confounding. If we can't see abundance or if we refuse to see it in our lives, we miss out on the miraculous grace that is so often present. Our unbelief may be keep us from participating in the party!
Prayer for the day:
God our Creator, our center, our friend,
we thank you for our good life,
for those who are dear to us,
for our dead,
and for all who have helped and influenced us.
We thank you for the measure of freedom we have,
and the extent to which we control our lives;
and most of all we thank you for the faith that is in us,
for our awareness of you and our hope in you.
Keep us, we pray you, thankful and hopeful
and useful until our lives shall end. Amen.
Prayer by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Photo by Philipp Kester (German photojournalist, 1873-1958), Public Domain.