For it is also so in the wedding story that is ours to share in today. The story here, too focuses not on the actual wedding itself but on what came later. Only in this case, the wine gave out before it was time for the guests to go home.
So I find myself now thinking not so much of the potential embarrassment of the host, nor of the wonder of the guests who would have enjoyed that fine wine. Rather, I am thinking of those on the edges of the normally main memory itself. I am thinking today of those presumably strong young servants who carried the stone jars and filled them with water. You know, those folks who would be standing on the edge of any wedding reception still today, waiting to serve, to clear, to carry the individually sliced pieces of cake to the tables of the guests. Those same ones who, in the case of the story I overheard above, had the unenviable task of cleaning up after those who had enjoyed the party perhaps a little too much. In Jesus’ day, I expect they were the permanent underclass: those servants, those slaves. In our day, perhaps this is also so. It strikes me on this reading, though, that those servants on the edge of the celebration were the only ones to actually witness the miracle here. To be sure, the chief steward tasted it, and apparently his taste buds were still sensitive so he was able to enjoy the fine quality of the wine. And the bridegroom and the bride and all their guests enjoyed the gift of the miracle before us now. Still, it was the servants who saw this wondrous miracle of abundance play out right before their eyes. It was the servants who saw it all — those who most likely never actually even got a sip of the 180 gallons of fine wine that was now being stored in those stone jars. Indeed, they were, they are those who go mostly unseen, un-noticed by the rest of us. And yet, they are the ones who went home with a story that night. They are the ones who first glimpsed the promise of Jesus. They are, indeed, as we hear throughout the Gospels — they are the ones for whom the gifts of God are especially meant. And so whether they ever tasted this wine or not, they must have gone home with the dawning recognition that in the simple act of ‘saving’ a party, the world itself was about to change in Christ Jesus. Indeed, in Jesus the world itself was about to change.
- Do you think there is any significance to the apparent truth that the servants were the only ones to actually witness this first miracle of Jesus first hand? Why or why not?
- Why ‘water into wine?’ What other Biblical references to ‘wine’ might help us to go deeper into this story?
- Can you think of other examples when the presumably ‘main memory’ was not the main memory at all? Can you think of other times when unexpected folks have received an unexpected gift of God’s grace?