Church of England Diocese of Birmingham Frankley

Enjoy the new Wine

24 Jan 2021, 2 a.m.

We long for weddings, wine, feasting and fellowship with no social distancing.

Jesus shows in our readings that suffering will come to an end when God reigns on earth as in heaven.

Turning water into wine is only found in John’s gospel and is the first of his signs about who Jesus is.

Mary, Jesus and his disciples were at a wedding and the wine had run out which would be a huge embarrassment to the host. Wine flows at Jewish celebrations. Wine fills us with joy, helps guests relax, looses their tongues and enables them to join in the dancing. It helps them forget about their worries and believe their glass is half full rather than half empty.

Jewish weddings were extravagant. They lasted for a week. The bride and groom kept open house dressed in their wedding robes, wore crowns to denote they were for this time a king and queen and their word was law.

We don’t know what Jesus got up to as a child and adolescent but Mary had clearly seen God’s power working through her son before. She expected Jesus would do something about providing wine.

His response seems strange. Instead of calling Mary Mother, he addresses her as “Woman,” which while respectful, distances him from being part of her family. He asks what concern the wine running out has to with them and says, “My hour has not yet come.”

Maybe, Jesus did not want to perform a miracle or reveal who he was yet. He wasn’t the host or there to sort every problem. The groom and bride were King and Queen for the event.

A day will come when Jesus will be King, bridegroom and host of the great marriage feast in heaven to which his bride, the saints throughout the ages who have been forgiven through the shedding of Christ’s blood will be invited

“My hour has not yet come” in John’s gospel usually refers to the work God the father had given Jesus to do, to die on the cross for the sins of the world and to the blood of the new covenant and the wine of the new kingdom which will join us together with him forever.

Jesus came to create a new family in a new Kingdom where his old relationships with his mother, brothers and sisters would not apply.

We don’t see Mary again in John’s gospel until his hour has come and he gives his mother to his beloved disciple and the disciple to his mother.

Mary was not deterred by Jesus’ response so she said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Jesus told them to fill the six stone water jars which were used for ritual washing to the brim. Ritual hand and feet washing is very important in Judaism. The servants probably thought Jesus was enabling fastidious purification rituals to take place.

Jesus then ordered the servants to draw out the water now changed to wine and take it to the chief steward.

The new wine of the kingdom was going to change people on the inside. Inner change is more important than outer purity.

Wine is the colour of blood. Water doesn’t change us. Only the shed blood of Jesus can wash us clean. This new wine was better than what had gone before.

Wine was so important at weddings because it was a sign of the joy of the bride and bridegroom; rabbis said that if there was no wine there was no joy. Jesus wants us to be full of joy; He wants us to have the best that heaven can provide; a foretaste of the glory of heaven now

The bridegroom is the provider of the wine. Jesus marries and rejoices over us. We have a new name

Our bridegroom loves us and longs for us to experiencing the joy of relating to him on a daily basis

He laid down his life for the church. He wants us to lay down our lives for one another.

Wine is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit. We are the new wine skins into which he pours new wine. The disciples were not drunk with new wine on the day of Pentecost as the people round about thought but were full of the Holy Spirit. When our relationship with Jesus becomes cold then we need to stir up the gift he has given us

Paul tells us in Ephesians to “Be being filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

Whilst we are not able to sing together, that is something we can all do.

Jesus’ love is extravagant: He turned water in six stone jars that had been filled to the brim into the best wine possible

No wedding party could possibly drink that amount of wine. There was 100 litres, 20 to 30 gallons in each. That’s about 300 litre plastic milk bottles full

God gives us out of his abundance. He supplies all our needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus. There is no need on earth that he cannot supply. There is more than enough for everyone. God is not stingy. He is extravagantly generous.

We do not deserve to receive these riches. They are God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

John calls the turning of the water into wine a sign of God’s glory.”Wine shows us what grace looks, smells and tastes and feels like. Abundant grace tastes like expensive wine when we are expecting the cheap stuff. Jesus wants us to receive of his fullness today.

It is not by accident that this sign took place at a wedding and not a sabbath or Passover meal. It was a sign of the wedding to come.

We are going to the wedding feast of the lamb. Weddings are happy occasions where according to Isaiah we will eat the richest food and the best wines. The wedding was a sign of the kingdom to come, when we are all taken safely home to live with our Lord forever.

Jesus is the new wine of God’s presence with us. He wants us to feed and drink on him, take him fully into ourselves so that we become one being with the father. Jesus wants us to fall more deeply in love with him

Whilst we cannot receive wine in Holy Communion with Christ and one another and whilst we are forced to socially distance we can receive the joy of the kingdom of heaven and the sparkling new wine of Jesus presence with us now.

God of all mercy,

your Son proclaimed good news to the poor,

release to the captives,

and freedom to the oppressed:

anoint us with your Holy Spirit

and set all your people free

to praise you in Christ our Lord. Amen