Epiphany: A season of reflection and response to the revealed glory of Christ
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
The First Miracle
If we don’t count the miraculous conception, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, there are 34 distinct miracles that are recorded in the Gospels. Apostle John highlights seven miracles – four of which are unique to the Gospel of John. John calls the miracles “signs” because each of them reveal something about the person and purpose of Jesus Christ. The signs build on each other and unveil various dimensions of Jesus’ power and glory.
It’s important for us to understand that these signs weren’t just neat tricks, they are manifestations of God’s glory, power, and presence in the person of Jesus Christ.
The first sign – turning water into wine – took place shortly after Jesus was baptized and welcome by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Jesus, his mother, and the disciples were attending a wedding. In Palestinian culture, weddings were a huge deal; they were announced well in advance and celebrated by the entire village over the course of a few days. We don’t have specific information about the bride and groom, but it’s clear that they were connected to Jesus’ family.
At one point, during the wedding, the wine ran out. Culturally this was not simply an embarrassing situation, this was a crisis that would bring great shame and dishonor on the host. Mary, Jesus’ mother, immediately turned to Jesus and told the servants to “do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus is clearly very concerned about God’s timeline, but he is also incredibly compassionate. He told the servants to fill six stone jars with water (approximately 180 gallons) and, then, he transformed the water, one of the most basic chemical compounds on earth, into very good wine. This miracle resulted in compliments from the guests but, more importantly, it revealed the glory of Christ and inspired the faith of the disciples.
What does this have to do with us?
The miracles that are recorded in the gospels aren’t just about what God did in the past, they vividly communicate what God is capable of doing in the present and what he wants to do in each of our lives today. This event took place to reveal the glory of Christ, and to inspire our faith: Jesus is present and he takes things that are common, and broken, and transforms them into something new (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:5).
Jesus redeems people, places, and circumstances – for our good and for his glory.
Scripture Readings for Week 4
- What are some common spaces in your life where God is working?
- Are there things that you have been withholding from God, or places in your life where he has not been welcome?
- Is there a broken relationship or circumstance in your life that you need to surrender to Christ?
- What are some ordinary ways for you be involved in the lives of others in a way that points people to Jesus?
Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. – The Book of Common Prayer