Thoughts for the Day

Sunday, 21st January 2024: Epiphany 3

Mary John 3 Messiah Sign Jesus

Reading : Verses from John, Chapter 3

Wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 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 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.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


John's gospel is full of signs and symbols, and we can read it simply at one level as stories about Jesus and his work, or we can look deeper for other meanings. For a start, John calls some of Jesus' work, "signs". The prayer for this Sunday (the Collect) starts 'Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence:' So what is a sign, and what is the deeper meaning of the wedding at Cana? The experts mostly agree that there are six signs although some think there are seven (see further Thoughts), and that a sign is a symbol for displaying God's glory in Jesus, who is seen as being the Son of God. When we believe in him John says we shall have new life (John 20.30-31).

The turning of water into wine at the wedding party in Cana only appears in John's gospel, and seems an odd 'sign'. But we should note that the stone water jars held between 20 to 30 gallons of water, and were used for ritual rites of cleanliness - when someone had touched someone who was sick and therefore deemed to be unclean, for instance (see the Book of Leviticus). When Jesus turns the water into wine he turns between 120-130 gallons of water into wine!
This is an over-the-top, completely ridiculous amount of wine. It would be enough for dozens of weddings!

The point of the 'sign' is that with Jesus in our life the impossible becomes possible. Jesus came to change sterile ritualistic laws into a living and joyful relationship with the Lord, which we celebrate with joy each week with bread and wine in the Communion Service (eg Mass, or Eucharist).


Lord Jesus Christ,
as You showed Your glory
at the wedding in 'Cana of Galilee'
and brought joy into the lives of many that day,
so may we rejoice in our relationship with You
and in our celebration of Communion
with You each Sunday.

Follow Up Thoughts

If you want to look further at John's signs, see this article:

Or you might like to look at this overview of the first part of John's Gospel - in cartoon form. It deals with 'signs' and 'the wedding':

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