Making all things new
John 2.1-11 (New Revised Standard Version)
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.
Jesus first reveals his glory in John’s Gospel at a party. John’s first of seven signs features Jesus at a wedding banquet, a great long celebration where they’ve run out of wine. Jesus responds making so much wine it would have been impossible to drink it all.
This isn’t the meek and mild water-coloured painting of Jesus framed on the wall of a church hall that you might gaze upon as you sip your overly weak tea from a brittle polystyrene cup after a PCC meeting. This miracle of Jesus proclaims the fullness of God that led Spurgeon to declare “When you are told to believe in him, believe in him up to the brim! When you are told to love him, love him up to the brim! When you are commanded to serve him, serve him up to the brim!”
Jesus’ glory is made known at a wedding feast, a moment of profound joy and recreation. John’s Gospel introduces to us that Jesus’ work of “re-creation” is full of celebration, joy, and relationship. In the Book of Common Prayer the significance of the location of the miracle is highlighted in the preface to the marriage service drawing us to make parallels with Genesis 2. The BCP states that “Holy Matrimony… [was] instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee”.
The miracle itself is extraordinary. The eighteenth-century poet Alexander Pope wrote “the conscious water saw its Master and blushed”. However, I believe that Jesus’ miracles are not just an expression of his divinity but his perfect humanity.
God intended creation to be ruled by a perfect human being and without such a ruler creation is incomplete, lacking, and defective. Jesus is truly authentically human in the way that we were meant to be.
One of the ways theologians have understood Jesus’ sinless life is like he is going back over things to get them right, like bold script covering over a mistake in a notebook. Paul describes Jesus as the second man, in contrast to Adam, the first man. Jesus experienced temptation as Adam did, but whereas Adam failed Jesus succeeded.
In displaying his authority over creation Jesus shows he is the perfect man, faithfully and obediently living in relationship with the Father, empowered by the Spirit and ruling over creation. In understanding how Jesus fulfils God’s intention for humanity to rule over creation we see more clearly how redemption works.
In his perfection Jesus can take our place on the cross, taking our sin and in exchange we receive the relationship for which we were intended. Jesus’ mission isn’t simply to rescue us from our sin but to redeem the whole of creation. The redemption of creation means that the universe is heading somewhere.
Paul describes Jesus’ resurrection as the firstfruit. A humanity made new is the pinnacle of God’s new creation. Jesus is the first of many who will be transformed and glorify beyond the grave. May our reflections this week draw you to marvel at Jesus’ miracles and behold our God who is making all things new.
(Town Centre Hub)