This week’s gospel reading is the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle, changing water into wine. This episode is found only in John’s gospel. There are many other events which appear only in John’s gospel but not in the other three (for example, the “Word became flesh” prologue, meeting Nicodemus at night, the Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, the woman caught in adultery, and raising Lazarus from the dead, to name a few).
Many people wonder why John’s gospel is so different in style and content compared to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It sometimes seems as if John was writing about a completely different person.
There are a couple of important reasons why John’s gospel is so different. First, it was written at least two or three decades after the other three gospels. By the time John wrote, detailed accounts of Jesus’ life were already in circulation. There was no reason to repeat certain well-known events, especially Jesus’ Galilean ministry.
Secondly, to understand John’s gospel, we must keep in mind his primary objective, the reason he bothered writing at all. John spells it out toward the end: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you might come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).
John wrote so people would believe in Jesus, and as a result, receive eternal life. It is a goal which is short and sweet and to the point, and unquestionably the most important consideration in the whole history of the universe. (What, you think there are other things MORE important that eternal life? Really? Name one other thing in your life today that still will be critically important 10,000 years from now—or 10,000 billion years from now. It can’t be done.)
To achieve his goal of bringing people to faith in Jesus and the eternal life that results from that faith, John emphasized what he called “signs,” or miracles, performed by Jesus. Only someone with the supernatural power of God is capable of giving eternal life. John wanted his readers to know without a doubt that Jesus has that kind of power.
The wedding feast was a small celebration in a tiny town in a tiny country. But when they ran out of wine too soon, the Creator of the Universe stepped forward and transformed approximately 150 gallons of water into the best wine anyone had ever tasted. The party was saved and the father of the bride was not embarrassed. It was a simple little backwater episode that almost seems out of place in the majestic Scriptures.
However, John concludes this brief passage by explaining the momentous meaning of the event: “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs…and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.”
John’s purpose in writing this story is clear. It is to demonstrate Jesus’ divinity by describing the miracle He performed so people will put their faith in Him.
So, this week’s gospel is much more than a simple little story of embarrassment averted in an obscure town. It was the first of Jesus’ signs, the clear messages that proved He was divine and possessed supernatural powers. This little story of a little party points to the big story that we celebrated a few weeks ago: God has come to save His people. This is indeed the Good News.
And don’t forget: 10,000 billion years is a long time (and it’s only the first DAY of Eternity). Whatever you do, don’t miss out on eternal life. Put your faith in Jesus right now. You’ll never regret it.