'And what a sign! Six stone water jars each with a capacity of twenty to thirty gallons! More than a sip of glory, this is a flood, one which could supply not one, but several wedding feasts for days on end. And not cheap port, not Franzia or Manischewitz or even Barefoot, but the best wine, wine seemingly aged for centuries just for this moment, so that the steward can say to the unsuspecting groom, ‘You have kept the good wine until now.’
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
It was not the time for a miracle. Jesus did not come to be a bartender. He did not come to save the wedding party from being ruined. And besides, as he said to his mother, his hour had not yet come.
In the Gospel of John there are many references to ‘the hour’ for Jesus. Here as in other places, the hour has not yet come. When Jesus’ enemies wish to kill him, he escapes, because ‘his hour had not yet come.’ But someone hearing or reading the Gospel of John for the first time might be in suspense, wondering what the hour is and when it might be.
We have to go all the way to chapter 12, to when Jesus’ disciples come to him and tell him that some Greeks (Gentiles, non-Jews) want to see him and speak to him. And it is at this time that Jesus says, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.’ So now we know when Jesus’ hour has come. But he will be glorified in a way that no one expects; no one but the attentive reader of the Gospel, who read all the way back in chapter 3, ‘Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that all those who believe in him may not perish, but have everlasting life.’
Jesus speaks of his being lifted up on the cross, becoming the Paschal Lamb for the sins of the world, for Jew and Gentile alike being the salvation promised by God. This is how his Father will glorify him and he will reveal his glory. He shows the character of God by how he reigns from the cross. Many people believe in God or gods, but the question is the character of God. Does he have good intentions for us? Is the creation good, indifferent, or malevolent? Is there wrath or mercy?
Jesus plans to show his glory, in his good time. But now is not the time for a miracle. But what can he do, with the feast in jeopardy and his mother imploring him, not telling him, not even asking him what to do, but with her words simply showing him what she desires, that he give a sip of glory to God’s people right here, right now.
And so he reveals his glory, not openly, but in secret. The only people who know are the servants, whom no one will believe anyway, and the disciples. They witness what some call a ‘miracle,’ but what the Gospel of John calls a ‘sign.’
And what a sign! Six stone water jars each with a capacity of twenty to thirty gallons! More than a sip of glory, this is a flood, one which could supply not one, but several wedding feasts for days on end. And not cheap port, not Franzia or Manischewitz or even Barefoot, but the best wine, wine seemingly aged for centuries just for this moment, so that the steward can say to the unsuspecting groom, ‘You have kept the good wine until now.’
Abundant and overflowing, like God’s love poured out – ‘my cup runneth over.’ Rich and full of flavor: ‘Taste and see that the LORD is good; happy is the man who puts his trust in him.’ Served from the jars for the rite of purification: ‘And he shall purify the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, until they offer unto the LORD the offerings of righteousness.’
Jesus shows his glory, without showing his glory. For ‘his time had not yet come,’ but in this hidden way he gives a glimpse of his glory, the glory which will be revealed in the cross and will be revealed in the Church by the Spirit and will be revealed in the day of judgment in which mercy is also revealed. The Spirit is the guarantee of that day, in which God’s people will be wined and dined in God’s presence: ‘On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines; of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.’
The overflowing gifts of the Spirit of God have been given to the Church. These gifts proclaim Jesus as Lord and call forth our confession of faith, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ This gifts are given to each of us for the service of God, the Church, and the world. I look out among you and I see the gifts which God gives to overflowing: wisdom, knowledge, kindness, generosity, service, faith. As if filled with wine, the best wine, the wine which does not debilitate but instead enervates the party, the people of God with gladness celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb.
No, it is not the time for a miracle. But there is time for a sign, a sign of the glory which Jesus will reveal on the cross and in the Church and in the consummation of all things. In the giving of gladness at Cana, we see in Jesus the character of God, the joy of the wedding feast, the wisdom of ages, the blessing on humanity. Thanks be to God.