For Sunday, January 14, 2018
Week 3, Day 3
1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 4 And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
I remember watching one of the “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” segments on an early Art Linkletter show when I was a just a kid. When the host discovered he was interviewing a group of 3rd graders from a church school, he asked one of them tell his favorite Bible story. A boy in the class volunteered our story for this week—Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. He re-told the story with some impressive detail, too.
When he finished, Art asked him what he learned from that story. I’ve never forgotten his response. “If you want your party to go on for a long time”, he said, “make sure you invite Jesus to come”.
And of course, the kid was exactly right.
Let’s do the math on the story of the wedding wine.
According to one archeologist, small Palestinian villages in Jesus’ time seldom had a population above 400 people. Keep that number in mind.
The water jars in the story held 20 to 30 gallons—so six of them would hold between 120 and 180 gallons. That’s a lot of water.
A bottle of wine, these days, holds about 25 ounces. Convert 120 to 180 gallons of water into a fine wine and you will have between 600 and 900 bottles. There are 5 servings in a bottle of wine.
The smartest thing this bride and groom did was to invite Jesus to their wedding party. Because he was there, and without even knowing it, they went from an embarrassing shortfall to an extravagant surplus—somewhere between 3000 and 4500 glasses of the best wine anybody there had ever tasted. That’s more than 11 glasses for every man woman and child in town.
And that’s where we find the point of the story:
Always invite Jesus to the party.
If you’re thirsty, invite Jesus to the party.
If you’re afraid you will embarrass yourself again—as the wedding hosts almost did, with your failure to plan or with your general tendency to plain old fail—invite Jesus to the party.
When he’s at the party there will never be anything but abundance.
I wonder if St Paul was familiar with this story. Here’s one of his superlative, over the top benedictions that brings us to the same conclusion. This is from his letter to the church in Ephesus:
Now to God who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20 KJV)
Prayer: Generous God, “exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or imagine” looks likes so much to us, but seems so natural to you. The abundance of your grace and your creation is sufficient, even in our most anxious times. Amen.