On the third day there was a wedding. It took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Dear woman, why are you telling me about this?” Jesus replied. “The time for me to show who I really am isn’t here yet.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do what he tells you.”
6 Six stone water jars stood nearby. The Jews used water from that kind of jar for special washings. They did that to make themselves pure and “clean.” Each jar could hold 20 to 30 gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the top.
8 Then he told them, “Now dip some out. Take it to the person in charge of the dinner.”
They did what he said. 9 The person in charge tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He didn’t realize where it had come from. But the servants who had brought the water knew. Then the person in charge called the groom to one side. 10 He said to him, “Everyone brings out the best wine first. They bring out the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink. But you have saved the best until now.”
11 What Jesus did here in Cana in Galilee was the first of his signs. Jesus showed his glory by doing this sign. And his disciples believed in him.12 After this, Jesus went down to Capernaum. His mother and brothers and disciples went with him. They all stayed there for a few days.
John 2:1-12 (New International Reader’s Version)
It was a big day that took time in its planning: your wedding day. Money was spent and guests were invited. In fact, the enigmatic local rabbi named Jesus, his disciples, and his mama were invited. You made sure you had enough food and drink so all can enjoy their fill…until horror of horrors, the unthinkable happens…
The wine ran out.
Now before you wonder why this would be something short of an epic disaster, let me explain. You see, wine was just as much a major drink in social occasions back in Jesus’s time as it is today. However, unlike today, people couldn’t just sneak out the back door and hightail it to the local liquor store for a case or two of what was in the stockroom and hope the guests were so shitfaced drunk they couldn’t tell the difference. Wine was costly and to run out was embarrassing for the newlyweds since this was their first event they would host.
It was at this “crisis moment” that Jesus’s Ma told him about the problem. However, Jesus gave an unusual reply. He asked his mother why she told him about this since it was not his time to show who he really was yet. Nevertheless, Jesus had the servants fill up six jars (used for purification rituals) with water. Then when a sample of one of the jar’s contents was given to the one in charge of the reception, he discovered it was wine. In fact, the guy in charge called the groom over and complimented him on serving better wine later in the reception rather than the cheap stuff which was commonplace.
As the above Scripture-and later scholars-allude, this was the first of Jesus’s miracles.
Okay, that was a cool story. However, what does this have to do with Lent? Glad you asked. Lent is a time we need to not only take an introspective look at ourselves; we need to take a fresh look at Scripture. Let’s go back and break down the story.
Marriage of man and woman: If we look at the metaphor of this, it would be the union of man (the conscious/outer) and woman (the unconscious/inner)-spiritually unifying the individual.
Wine: The sign of love and faith. Running out of love and faith can be a dangerous thing for one seeking spiritual wholeness.
Jesus’s timing issue: Jesus had yet to show who he was to humanity. He was to yet usher in the Realm of Heaven.
Water: Spiritual things of faith.
Jars for purification: Jesus was to purify the spiritual things with love. This giving the whole person what he/she needed for complete living. Six usually is the number signifying man.
In a nutshell, Jesus came to assist us in the uniting of ourselves into whole people, and to purify our spiritual lives with Divine Love. (Thanks to Bible Meanings for help with the words).
During our Lenten journey, let’s look to the Christ within to unify our inner and outer person; and to purify us with God’s love so that we can be whole people of faith.
Now before I go, here’s a little Lenten fun. The purification jars Jesus called into use could hold 20-30 gallons of water each. Now, today’s wine bottle can hold 750 mL of wine (or roughly 25 ounces). Now one gallon equals 128 ounces; and five bottles of wine equal 125 ounces (just about a gallon). If we use the average volume per purification jar of 25 gallons, that would be 125 bottles of wine/jar (actually 126 bottles). Now multiply 126 by 6. that would be 756 bottles of wine, or 63 cases (with 12 bottles/case). OMG…that would have been one hell of a party! No wonder these things could last for days!
Peace (and good wine too)!