“Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs.” The Greek word meaning “sign” or “miracle” is used 17 times in John’s Gospel. In comparison, this same Greek word is found a total of 60 times throughout the rest of the New Testament. For the John, the signs of Jesus are not just mighty works, but miracles that unveil the glory and power of God working through Christ. The signs of Jesus recall the signs performed by Moses during the Exodus, that likewise revealed the glory of God working through Moses. John’s Gospel draws attention to seven signs: (1) the miracle at Cana, (2) the healing of the official’s son, (3) the healing of the paralytic, (4) the multiplication of the loaves, (5) the restoration of the blind man, (6) the raising of Lazarus, and, most important of all, (7) the Resurrection of Jesus. For John the signs of Jesus were essential to communicating that God had revealed himself to humankind.
In modern times signs are also important, are they not? They give directions. They tell us how far we have come and how far we have left to go. Signs tell us when to stop and when to start or speed up or slow down. Signs tell us when to stand still, sit down, or drive through. We can read a sign, hold a sign, or even give a sign. We get angry and frustrated when we can’t see a sign and we get angry and frustrated when all we see are signs. Everywhere, every place, everything has a sign. There is even a song about signs;
“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”
In today’s modern-age it could be argued that without signs there would be chaos, and today’s Gospel is really, all about signs.
In discussion about this Gospel one of my fellow curmudgeons mentioned that this was his favorite Gospel story. When asked why, he stated, “Well because there is wine and… because of Mary.”
I agreed with him. I too do like this Gospel story and not just because of the wine. This brief interaction between Jesus and Mary inspires the imagination and at the same time causes one to reflect upon their own relationship with their own mother. For me, Mary’s simple request, Jesus’s terse response, followed by her instructions to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you” causes me to recall a similar interaction with my own mother.
For me it was garbage. The neighbor’s garbage cans had been turned over and scattered all over the alley by a notorious neighborhood dog. Upon seeing the mess my mother turned to me and said, “Jason go grab a couple of garbage bags and pick all of that up.” I offered my typical response, “Why?” Her answer, “Because I said so.” I cleaned up the mess.
The beauty of today’s Gospel is that in this one moment, in this one interaction, we are given the perfect image of the theological mystery of Jesus; that he is both entirely human and entirely divine. This brief exchange between Jesus and his mother sound clear like an early morning bell calling out that Jesus is one of us. We cannot but help find solidarity with our Savior as we reflect upon the human relationship between a mother and her child. And, at the same time, we are confronted with the mighty power and wonderful majesty of God who not only desires our salvation, but who is also concerned with our human affairs. Jesus’s presence at this marriage feast not only sanctified the covenant of marriage, but also demonstrated God’s abundant blessings for those whom he loves.
“Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs.” He did this as a sign revealing himself as God who came to humankind for the salvation of all humankind. He did this as a sign proving that he is indeed the Son of God, and also the son of Mary, the mother of the church. He did this as a sign beckoning us to place our trust and our hope in him, who turns water into wine, providing for our needs no matter how trivial or small. He did this as a sign that we, here before this altar, may have eternal life and that we may live it abundantly in him.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, today I ask you to read the signs. The signs that Jesus is here and that he is here for you.
One thought on “I like this Gospel story and not just because of the wine”
Well written Jason. It put that wedding in a different light. And your personal story tied them together. Thank you.