Sermon Ideas For John 2:1-11 Part 3
The wedding at Cana is a passage that begins sublimely, proceeds with conflict, and ends with celebration. So does the movie Four Weddings And A Funeral, which is mostly about weddings, but there is an unmistakable overtone of urgency here, as if there is little time to do what is really important, as if the bridegroom will only be with them a short while (Mt 9:15).
This is a rare instance in the Gospels of Jesus merely attending a social occasion. When we think about how much of our lives are filled with not only weddings and funerals, but also graduations, convocations, neighborhood parties, and assorted other social conventions, we marvel that Jesus was either exempt from these things, or that the Gospel writers did not otherwise see fit to make mention of them. We get the impression, from reading the Gospels, that Jesus spent most of his time with a small group of close friends, and that is certainly the case in Four Weddings And A Funeral. The same ensemble partygoers are together for all these occasions, in large part because these are the very ones who are engaging in all the momentous social events.
Jesus went to the wedding at Cana with his mother, which is the last time it is recorded that he was with her socially during his ministry. Their cross words reported in John may be an indication why they did not seem to be an important part of each other's lives during this time. He calls her the unflattering term, "Woman," and she ignores him and tells the servants to do whatever he tells them. We may have hoped that Jesus' own mother would be beyond the stage of desiring to utilize this Anointed One's gifts for mere convenience. Making more wine for a wedding party would not seem to be high on a priority list of miracles that are important in the kingdom of God. But Jesus complied; partly, we feel, because he did not wish to embarrass his mother; and partly, we hope, because he simply desired to help people in need; and partly, we suspect, because he was giving a sign demonstrating that something greater was here than mere water and wine.
In Four Weddings And A Funeral, there is something greater than mere social convention, and that is true love, not of the kind that is of the everyday, but of the kind that is transcendent, and calls into question all other obligations and duties, like the calling of the Kingdom. In the midst of this celebration of life there is death, because it is always death that reminds us more of the value of life, and it is always through death that we understand the significance of living. It is through the life of the Jesus of Cana that we glimpse the necessity for his death, and in the death of Jesus of Cana we know something of his life. For the power of Jesus was such that he could not even do a small miracle in a small way. The wine that was provided was by far the best served, just as the life that Jesus provides transcends anything else that is offered. Yet it cannot be understood as the superior offering that it is until the taster of life has experienced the dregs of the everyday. The appeal of the Jesus of Cana is that there is a depth of quality here beyond what people expect.
The love relationship in Four Weddings And A Funeral appears as a persistent yearning for something transcendent; something beyond the ordinary; something that would transfix the participants into another realm, where their existence would be defined not so much by themselves as by another. (This movie deserves its "R" rating. A word to those who prefer prudence should be sufficient.) So it is with the wedding at Cana: anyone who would taste the wine of the kingdom understands that this is of another realm, where existence is not defined by self, but by others, and by the way we relate to them. To forsake all else for the sake of this superior serving is to do nothing less than forsake all else for the sake of another. This is the taste of the wine which is not intended to intoxicate to oblivion, but to fill to the brim with the celebration of pure gift. "O taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps 34:8).