I have always considered the wedding feast at Cana one of the biblical texts filled with wonderful lessons for us as disciples. It is one of those classic texts which provide for us an opportunity for a meaningful and rich bible study discussion. John places this wedding story at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Before this revelation of his divinity we have seen two other events that reveal him as the Son of God. We have the appearance of the magi after his birth and we have his baptism and now we have his first miracle as described by John.
After more than two thousand years of developed theology about Jesus, we Christians have no problem believing that Jesus was then and is now the messiah. But how does our believing that he is the messiah inspire us to live openly our faith in confident assurance that Jesus came and died for the forgiveness of sins.
Did you ever wonder why Jesus was there on that day in Cana? It was a town so insignificant we don’t know its location other than the fact the scriptures tell us it was in Galilee. I believe its insignificance has deep meaning for us because of our own insignificance. If you read the scriptures you will find that many of the people God used powerfully considered themselves insignificant. Today’s gospel has none of those great figures except for one, Mary.
John is the only gospel writer who tells us about this miracle of changing water into wine. Mary became aware of the need for wine as they gathered celebrating a friend’s wedding. She also knew that Jesus could do something to make that celebration continue, not in a drunken stupor, but in eye opening wonder.
I happen to think that all eyes were on Jesus as she told the servants to “do whatever he tells you.” Everyone in Cana would have heard of the miracles Jesus performed as he made his way to Cana. We can believe they knew of his miracles because in Luke’s gospel we see the people of his home town knew of his deeds (Lk. 4:23)
Luke’s gospel has Jesus beginning his ministry by going to his home in Nazareth in Galilee. His first act as he arrives in Nazareth was to go to the temple and reads the passage from the prophet Isiah which foretells of God sending an anointed one “who would proclaim a year of favor…give sight to the blind and set the captives free” (Is. 61:1). After Jesus reads from the scroll, he announces that the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled in their midst. When he made that statement, he was announcing that he is the anointed one.
The people of Nazareth were impressed with his eloquence but they were not convinced that he was the anointed one. In fact the scriptures make it clear that they were not impressed with Jesus as he grew up among them. They thought he we eloquent but ultimately got so angry with him that they brought him to the brow of a hill intending to throw him into the abyss. He just walked through them and goes to Capernaum. The people of his home town, people who knew him the best, missed out on the promises of God and the transformation of their lives.
It is a lesson that tells us how easy it is for us to fall into a familiar comfortable understanding of who Jesus is. It is easy for us to fall into a comfortable way of praying or a comfortable spirituality that acknowledges Jesus but does not accept what he offers. The comfortable places we prefer will help us feel good about our faith and our spirituality but we are not called to comfort we are called to become disciples. The people gathered in Cana were also familiar with Jesus but their response allowed them to see the power of God touching their lives.
The challenge to open ourselves to see the glory of God is always before us. It is a challenge to change and open ourselves to allow the Spirit to transform us. Transform us in a way that brings about a dramatic and visible change in the same way water became wine. Cana challenges us to embrace Jesus in a new way. One that has us intent on listening to him speaking to our hearts as he invites us to the wedding feast of the lamb.
I guarantee you that if you listen to him he will change your belief in him that has been formed by years of learning. If you listen to him you will experience the celebration of “God rejoicing over us with gladness…and singing as one sings at festivals” (Zep. 3:17). Listening to him will allow us to move to an experience of the wonder of God at work among us and we will stand in awe. It is when we allow the gift of the Spirit to be poured out on us that we will understand who Jesus is, why he came and why we have been given life.
The only way to see these things is to do what Mary said to do, listen to him and do what he says. So here is the challenge of Cana: are we listening to the voice of the shepherd allowing us to see the power of God as they did that day in Cana or is the voice we are following a voice that ignores the voice of Jesus as the people of Nazareth did.