2nd Sunday After the Epiphany (Series C)
January 17, 2016
Gospel: John 2:1-11
Epistle: 1 Cor 12:1-11
Lesson: Is 62:1-5
Psalm: Psalm 36:5-10
From the New International Commentary on the New Testament: by Leon Morris
It is often suggested that this miracle is not historical, but that, when the wine ran out, Jesus commanded water to be used. The “ruler of the feast”, entering into the spirit of the thing, made a merry quip about this being the best wine of all. Someone who did not understand, heard the remark and thus a story of a miracle originated. Others think that John has adapted a heathen legend in order to set forth Christian truth.
Such reconstructions founder on verses 9 and 11. In the first place John says that the water became wine. He records a miracle. And in the second place it was a miracle which had profound effects on those who had begun to follow Jess. It is impossible to maintain that “his disciples believed on him”, and that He “manifested his glory”, on the basis of nothing more than a good joke. Nor is it easier to think that John would say this about a heathen legend. Plainly he records the miracle because he believes that it happened. But for him, this miracles are all “signs.” They point beyond themselves. This particular miracle signifies that there is a transforming power associated with Jesus. He changes the water of Judaism into the wine of Christianity, the water of Christlessness into the wine of the richness and the fulness of eternal life in Christ, the water of the law into the wine of the gospel. While this “sign” is recorded only in this Gospel, it should not be overlooked that there are partial parallels in theSynoptics. Thus the imagery of the wedding feast is used with reference to the kingdom of God (Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13; Luke 12:36), and the disciples in the presence of Christ are likened to wedding guests rejoicing with the bridegroom (Mark 2:19). Again, the contrast of Jesus’ message with Judaism is illustrated by the wine and the wineskins (Luke 5:37ff.).
(Ryle sees eschatological significance in the story. “To attend a marriage feast, and cleanse the temple from profanation were among the first acts of our Lord’s ministry at His first coming. To purify the whole visible Church, and hold a marriage supper, will be among his first acts, when He comes again”)…
Up to this time Jesus had never performed a miracle (v. 11), but His mother’s words to Him show that she reposed trust in His resourcefulness. They may show more…She knew that angels had spoken about Jesus before His birth. She knew that she had conceived Him while still a virgin. She knew that His whole manner life stamped Him as different. She knew Jesus, in short, to be the Messiah, and it is likely that she now tried to make Him take such action as would show Him to all as the Messiah she knew Him to be. Jesus’ address to her, “Woman,” is not as cold in the Greek as in English. He uses it, for example, in His last moments as He hangs on the cross and tenderly commends her to the beloved disciple (19:26). LS informs us that the vocative is “a term of respect or affection.” Yet we must bear in mind that it is most unusual to find it when a son addresses his mother…That Jesus calls Mary “Woman” and not “Mother” probably indicated that there is a new relationship between them as He enters on His public ministry…
v. 10 “Every man setteth on first the good wine; and when men have drunk freely, then that which is worse: thou hast kept the good wine until now.”
P.W. Meyer argues that this verse brings out an important symbolical meaning. He sees in the story a reference to the Christian salvation in contrast to Hellenistic ideas. According to the latter the best came first, the heavenly man before the earthly, the divine before the deterioration we see in the world. Salvation then was a reversal of the process, with the recovery of the original. But Christ brings men a salvation that is miraculously new. God has kept the best wine until last (JBL, LXXXVI, 1967, pp. 191-97).