Wedding Gifts

Read: John 2:1-11

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” (John 2:1-5, NRSV).

It’s customary to shower newlyweds with gifts. This story does not disappoint, because it comes bearing several.

The couple in the Cana story brings us the gift of their anonymity. Think about how remarkable that is. This is probably the most famous wedding in history, and yet we never meet the bride and groom. But their anonymity allows us to focus on what the story has to say about love and God and life in general. The fact that they don’t even merit a footnote in their own wedding writeup may say more about the reporter than the bride and groom, but I take my hat off to them anyway.

Jesus brings the gift of his presence. How cool is it that we have this story about Jesus at a wedding? And from the sounds of it, it was quite a party. But we shouldn’t let that “water into wine” thing upstage the wonder of the fact that he graced that event with his presence. And I think the fact that he did reminds us to invite him—not just to weddings—but to marriages as well.

Mary evidently couldn’t decide what to bring because she comes bearing several gifts. First, she brings compassion for the host. She sees that the wine has run out, and she springs into action with her second gift: faith. She knows Jesus can do something about this potentially embarrassing problem, so she goes to him and says, “They’ve run out of wine!” When he hesitates, she pulls out her third gift: chutzpah. She doesn’t argue, she just turns to the waitstaff and says, “Do whatever he tells you.”  She’s basically daring Jesus to contradict her! That takes chutzpah, even if you are Jesus’ mother. It makes me wonder if she has some extra leverage on him—like the fact that he’s shown up at the event with all of his disciples. Is this why the wine ran out? Just asking.

The servants come bearing a gift for us as well—namely—they bear witness to God’s extravagant love. There were six jars holding twenty or thirty gallons each. That’s a lot of water—and a lot of wine! Jesus probably could have averted the crisis just by changing just one jar to wine—but no. He goes for all six, and the servants suddenly have 180 gallons of wine to work with. That is a wonderful gift and an even more wonderful reminder: Love extravagantly.

Finally, the steward gifts us with his statement about saving the best until last. I think all of us who have known pain and disappointment know just how sweet the surprise of a second chance is. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to think that God may be saving the best until last for us as well?

Ponder: What is your favorite gift in this story and why?

Pray: Help us to love as generously as you have loved us, gracious God.