Lesson 3 –
1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So, they took it. 9 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 10 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.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
This miracle is Jesus’ first recorded one. Immediately after this event, he goes to the temple and shoos people away for turning “my Father’s house into a marketplace.” The writer of this gospel inserts a comment into the passage saying, “Jesus would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.”
In this passage, we have a very tall high and a super sad low, one right after the other. In your own personal devotional period, read this chapter in its entirety. How do you think Jesus reconciles the joy of the wedding with the disappointment of seeing the temple being turned into a marketplace?
Today’s lesson will focus on Jesus giving people good things. Read the scripture out loud together. What’s happening in this passage?
There was a multi-day wedding in Cana. Jesus, his disciples, and Mary were among the wedding guests. At one point, the wine ran out. Mary says to Jesus, “There’s no wine,” but Jesus doesn’t understand what that has to do with him. Mary goes to the servants and reminds them that they should “do whatever he tells” them. At a point, there were 6 water jars set aside for the Jewish rites of purification, so Jesus tells the people to fill those with water. They filled it to the very top of the jar.
Then Jesus tells them to take some out and bring it to the head steward of the wedding event. The steward tasted the water, which had become wine, and was confused. The steward said, “everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you kept the good wine until now.” The servants understood that a miracle had happened, but the steward was unaware.
Why does the steward make such a comment?
It is usually the custom to make sure people have good wine first and then inconspicuously put out the boxed wine later. Most people cannot tell the difference by the time they have had several drinks. Or, if you do not drink wine, consider the wedding cake shortcut. At some weddings, the ceremonial cake cutting is a prop, and what is served to the guests is a generic sheet cake. It helps to cut costs.
The steward in charge of the hospitality for this event is surprised. If this new wine is good, that means we are spending good money! This is now day three! Maybe the steward is concerned about the bill soon to come.
What is Mary’s role here?
Mary encourages Jesus’ first miracle. Jesus himself does not think that there is anything he can do for the problem. But Mary goes to the staff of the event and tells them, “make sure that you do whatever it is that he tells you.” Perhaps at this time, the servants looked around, waiting for a set of instructions from Jesus. They’re looking to him for directions, and eventually he says, “okay well, let’s see what we can do.” Mary helps to organize what is already in the room. We often talk about puppets and puppeteers in a negative sense. As in, “you’re just pulling the strings behind the scenes.” But in this example, Mary is a puppeteer for joy and continued delight.
What questions do you still have of this scripture? How will you commit to journeying with this text this week?
Connection to Today’s World
Olivia K and the Parkers is a Brooklyn based band that incorporates a fusion of soul, jazz, gospel, and rock. They are intentional about bringing an inspirational message to the masses. They have a song called “You Deserve Good Things” (which we will hear later).
In their band merchandise, they name good things as “romance,” “vinyl,” “Sankofa,” “truth,” “dreams,” “yoga,” “a friend like you,” “jazz,” “community,” “treats,” “live music.”
The band recently performed in a concert series from a fire escape. Because of COVID restrictions, people haven’t been able to go to music venues or enjoy live music in the ways that we have before. So, performing in a COVID friendly way brought delight to the neighborhood and the musicians. Band leader Olivia K. said that she “jumped at the chance” to participate. Of course, some band members were afraid of heights. But the show must go on! Somehow.
Journal: What are the good things you want for yourself? What are the good things you wish you could give to others?
Closing: Listen to “You Deserve Good Things,” by Olivia K and the Parkers (lyrics in the video)
We thank you for the opportunities to reminisce on weddings and get togethers. We know that wherever two or three are gathered, there is potential for shared joy in your name.
You know what it is that we need. You are aware of our deepest desires. Meet us at the very point of our need.
In moments when we are afraid to ask for the good things we need, help us to remember Mary’s urging. Help us to remember the obedience of the waitstaff. Help us to see the delightful things where they exist.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.