If you were listening to today’s sermon (or children’s story) one thing that probably stood out to you was the extravagance of Jesus’ miracle. John tells us that the six stone water jars that were used in Jesus’ miracle each held 20 to 30 gallons. Quick math tells us that Jesus provided between 120 to 160 gallons of fine wine for that wedding.
Even when we consider that weddings in Jesus’ day often went on for a week, and that many people would be in attendance, the sheer volume of wine is astounding. It is echoed by a later sign in John where Jesus multiplies loaves and fishes. After everyone has had their fill, 12 baskets of barley loaves are left over.
The two stories taken together might help us understand just why Jesus was accused of being a glutton and drunk (Matthew 11:19). It is quite possible that some who had been fed by Jesus stole a few extra barley loaves for a second sitting. It is equally imaginable that some took the opportunity presented by the extra wine to get plastered.
Would either of these possibilities make Jesus an advocate of gluttony or drunkenness? I don’t think so. God grants us freedom to use and misuse God’s gifts. But it does seem clear that Jesus was willing to risk some people overindulging, or he himself being misunderstood and mislabelled, that people might have the opportunity to learn some important lessons. Jesus wants us alll to know that that God’s abundance is unleashed when he is present, that God takes joy in his people, and that in his ministry God is unveiling plans for a new era.
Some questions to ponder: