Reading for the Second Sunday after Epiphany: John 2:3-10
Ancient Jewish weddings were different than modern weddings. People did not fly to Hawaii for a honeymoon. For about a week, the couple had an “open house.”  During the week, the couple was treated as royalty. Wearing crowns and fancy clothes, they were addressed as king and queen and what they said was law.  Jesus, His disciples and His mother were at such a wedding feast.
When the wine was all gone, Mary said to Jesus, “They don’t have any more wine.” Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn’t yet come! You must not tell me what to do.”
Mary then said to the servants, “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do.”
At the feast there were six stone water jars that were used by the people for washing themselves in the way that their religion said they must. Each jar held about twenty or thirty gallons.
7 Jesus told the servants to fill them to the top with water. Then after the jars had been filled, he said,”
Now take some water and give it to the man in charge of the feast.” The servants did as Jesus told them, and the man in charge drank some of the water that had now turned into wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants did. He called the bridegroom over and said, “The best wine is always served first. Then after the guests have had plenty, the other wine is served. But you have kept the best until last!” (John 2:3-10**)
Verse 4 King James Version – Jesus responds to His mother’s request for help,
Woman, what have I to do with thee? The verse does not translate easily. On the surface, this sounds rude. Commentators, such as Matthew Henry, feel Jesus reprimanded His mother.  That might not have been the case. The commentator William Barclay explains that the response, when gently spoken, carried the meaning, “Don’t worry; you don’t quite understand . . . leave things to me . . . ”  When you don’t understand the things, the stuff of life, Jesus says, “Don’t worry; you don’t quite understand. Leave things to me.”
When the stuff of the world hits us hard, the words of Jesus’ response speak softly to our souls. “Don’t worry; you don’t quite understand. Leave things to me.” And we can leave things in the hands of Christ. He is able to deal with the things we cannot face.
Those frightened of their sexuality and are wanting a miracle to save them from their sexuality may find the Lord’s words comforting. “Don’t worry; you don’t quite understand. Leave things to me.” After Christ speaks those words to your heart, He performs a miracle. And that comes the revelation that God created your sexuality and the miracle that you can accept what the Lord has given you.
The jars held water for ritual washing. Jesus tells the men to fill the jars to the top and the water is turned into wine. Out of ritual containers flows wine.
Jesus replaces the water for ceremonial washing and that is an initial revelation about the Christ.  This early revelation points us toward the complete revelation of Jesus on a tree at Calvary. You see, the wine symbolizes the gospel, the good news that Jesus came to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from sin.
Jesus’ first miracle turned water into wine. Moses’ first miracle turned water into blood. Judgment is symbolized by blood and the “fullness of joy” is symbolized by wine.  God uses judgment to free His people from those who seek to enslave the people of God physically, spiritually and in every other way. Those who condemn God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children need to think about that! God will not allow their condemnations to enslave His people. The Lord does not use judgment to condemn His own! Instead of judgment, He gives the joy of the wine of redemption to His own people.
When we rely on the law to earn God’s love, the law judges us and condemns us for the multitude of our mistakes. Looking to the law to buy God’s love leaves us discouraged and defeated. Fortunately, there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus, Romans 8:1. Because there is no condemnation for those who are in the Christ, there can be the fullness of the wine of joy of salvation in one’s life.
Wine of the gospel came out of the imperfect jars. Out of the imperfect water jars, Jesus brought perfection. Jesus still makes wonderful things, come out of people who feel deeply flawed and disfigured.
The jars were big drums. Each jar held between twenty and thirty gallons of water.  Jesus turned the water into wine! There could have been as much as 180 gallons of wine.  What a party! Pretend this was 180 gallons of alcoholic wine. Ever tried to drink 180 gallons of wine in a week? There was enough wine for everybody, plus a lot left over. God’s grace is sufficient. There is enough grace, enough wine of salvation for everybody,  including gay people!
As I reflected on this passage, I thought about how horrible water can be. As kid, we had some of the world’s grossest water. There was a lot of minerals in the water. The taste was “full-bodied.” Major gross.
In college, there was a lot of sulphur in the water. The water stunk. The taste matched the smell. You could smell the sulphur on people when they were finished taking showers. And green slime would come out of the showers and land on unsuspecting people.
In ancient Israel, there were no water softeners, no water purifiers and no water distillers in people’s homes. For many, I suspect the water was repulsive, something used to wash, but loathed to drink. And Jesus turned the foulest stuff into something people craved.
Tired of feeling you stink, that people cannot stand your sexuality? God is reclaiming your spiritual center. The Lord is turning your life into something people crave, tasty wine, as God touches lives through you.
- William Barclay. The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of John. Vol. 1 (Burlington, Ontario: G.R. Welch, 1975), 97.
- Barclay, 97.
- Barclay, 97.
- Barclay, 97.
- Matthew Henry. “Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.” e-Sword. Computer Software. Version 6.5.0 (Leiper’s Fork, TN: Rick Meyers, 2000-2002).
- Barclay, 97-98.
- Donald Senior, et. al., eds. The Catholic Study Bible: New American Bible. (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990), NT, 150.
- James Smith. Handfuls on Purpose. Vol. VI (Grand Rapids, Michigan: WM B Eerdmans Pub., 1947), 189.
- Barclay, 103.
- Barclay, 103.
- Barclay, 103.
** Common English Version
A lifelong counselor, teacher and educator, having worked in elementary and secondary education for 25 years, Gary Simpson is a member of the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association and has spoken and led workshops on gay-straight alliances, bullying, spiritual self-defense, gay Christian identity, and the needs of GLBT youth and young adults.
Currently studying at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif., he holds a B.Ed. from Union College in Lincoln, Neb., an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling and Ed.S. in Educational Psychology from Loma Linda University in Riverside, Calif., a Master’s in Religious Education from Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta, and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif.