The story of Jesus turning water into wine…the story of Jesus at the wedding in Cana…reveals a lot about people in social contexts and Jesus’ response to said people in said social context.
People love to celebrate significant events in their lives. We love to party! And, in saying that, we love sharing the key cornerstones of our lives with others. Whether for show or out of the desire to share our lives with people, our tendency to want to celebrate with others shows our deep connectedness to the idea of being communal. With that said, it speaks to the bigger picture of us taking on the communal tendency of God as we see in the Trinity. God is about community. It’s only natural that we take up that mantel too.
We love celebrating ourselves and we love celebrating life.
The great thing is, the story also reveals that Jesus loves celebrating people and life too. The very fact that He was invited to the wedding speaks to Jesus’ significance in the lives of the couple. Jesus must have meant something to the newlyweds. He made the cut. He made the top tier. He made the guest list. It’s safe to assume that there must have been something special in their relationship with Jesus to warrant an invite. Simply put, Jesus was friends with the couple.
With that said, as the Messiah…as God…He didn’t need to go. I’m sure Jesus had better things to do. I’m sure He had people to heal and demons to cast out. I’m sure Jesus had Pharisees to put in their place and wrongly accused people to embrace. But the fact that Jesus attended the wedding lets us know He values life and He values the celebration of the key turning points in our lives.
Simply put, Jesus loves to party too.
And, not only does He love to party, but Jesus values the best in how we celebrate too. Of course, not reckless in nature. But the fact that Jesus turned 180 gallons of water into wine is huge. That’s a lot of wine. The emcee also comments on the amazing quality of the wine; given that it was custom to bring out the cheap stuff after folks were already drunk. Jesus “saves the best for last.” Jesus shows us that He doesn’t cut corners for us. He gives His best for us. That’s huge.
The story also speaks of man’s desire to avoid humiliation. They ran out of wine. How embarrassing?! Eastern cultures are big on saving face. To invite people to a party and not adequately preparing to serve them for the duration of the celebration is social suicide. The couple would have been the butt end of jokes for years to come.
And we’re no different. We don’t like facing shame. We don’t like being humiliated. After all, shame and humiliation only leads to loneliness; which takes us out of our natural tendency to commune with others.
But what does Jesus do? He does more than just provide the best element to the party. In Him doing the miracle, it shows Jesus’ understanding of us. It shows He knows about the pain that humiliation can cause. In Him replenishing the tapped out liquor, it shows that Jesus cares about how we’re treated. In Him bringing the best to the party, it shows that Jesus looks out for our best interest.
Another interesting thing to point out about the best that Jesus brings to situations is the jars that He used for the miracles. The jars weren’t fancy growlers or expensive Mikasa glassware. They were basins used for ceremonial washing…not the most prettiest of vessels by human standard. But Jesus takes something ordinary and transforms it into the extraordinary.
Jesus works with the plainest of things and makes them extravagant. He’s in the transformation business. And if you want to take it a bit further to a personal level, Jesus does the same in our lives. He can take our ordinary lives and transform them into greatness. For those of us who see nothing in ourselves and finds no significance in what we have to offer, Jesus looks beyond what we see and counts us worthy.
This first miracle began the journey of discovery and belief in who Jesus was by the disciples. From John the Baptist’s testimony to now seeing the Messiah in action, the disciples were slowly understanding that Jesus wasn’t about to dismantle the Roman empire, like many assumed He would. Jesus was for more than that. He was about transforming lives.