In the Lectionary

January 16, Epiphany 2C (John 2:1-11)

The wedding at Cana is a reminder that Jesus’ kingdom is a miraculous kingdom—a mystical kingdom.

The wedding at Cana is the third epiphany of Jesus accounted for in the lectionary readings. It is also, according to John, the first public miracle Jesus performs after his baptism. Several things are happening in this story. It all starts when Jesus’ mother lets him know that there is a shortage of wine. Jesus’ immediate response is that it is none of their business. “Do whatever he tells you” is Mary’s response—no matter what, just trust and obey.

Jesus knows that for his disciples to trust and obey him, he needs to quench their skepticism with signs—miraculous and unexpected signs. Jesus uses what is handy, but he also wants to make a statement. The jars utilized for purification rites become the instrument for the miracle Jesus is about to perform. “Fill the jars with water” is Jesus’ instruction to the disciples, and as Mary asked them to do, they trust and obey him.

The disciples’ trust and obedience bear fruit right away, and they become the first witnesses of Jesus’ power. Even more, they become the first witnesses of the kind of kingdom Jesus wants to establish. Jesus’ kingdom challenges our rites, practices, and old habits and offers new wine—a new and better way. The disciples also become the first witnesses of Jesus’ glory, and they respond by believing.