Epiphany 3: Taking the ordinary to make extraordinary

Our Gospel reading this morning is an account of Jesus’ first sign.

This is the first time that Christ reveals who he is
by what he does.

I love that this is the first,
because this sign does not concur with any expectations,
now or then.

Jesus takes what is ordinary
and does something extraordinary.

He takes washing water and turns it into the best wine.


In the tradition of the Jewish scriptures,
an act like this reveals Jesus as a prophet.
The sign demonstrates the truth of God’s word,
and at the same time authenticates the prophet.

It also reveals something of what is to come.

The promised Kingdom of God is coming to life
through Jesus;
this sign is a parable of the Kingdom.

If that is the case, then what does turning water into wine say about Jesus and about the Kingdom of God?

Jesus did not feel that this was his moment,
but his mother had faith that,
of all the people at that wedding feast,
it was her not so ordinary boy who could divert disaster.
Mary had not seen Jesus do a miracle,
but she had observed and experienced words and deeds, visitors and promises,
and had been treasuring all these things in her heart.
It is surely these things that fueled her question –

‘They’ve run out of wine.
What are you going to do about it?’

Jesus demonstrates who he is and what the Kingdom of God is like by his actions.

The water jars that were there would have been for ritual cleansing. This is not the water to wash the mud off.
This was a purification requirement of the Jewish law.
This water was to wash off sin.
And it is this water Jesus uses.

However, he does not just use what is left in the jars.
No, Jesus asks the stewards to fill them to the brim. [30 gallons just under 140 litres, or about 186 bottles of wine, and there were 6 of them! How’s your maths…]

There is nothing stingy and measured about this.
Jesus does not look around, think who is there,
and then calculate what would be enough.
There is abundance.
Jesus takes this water and turns it into abundant,
excellent wine.
He changes obligation and guilt
to abundance and celebration.
He changes the requirements of the old covenant
to the freedom and grace of the new covenant.
He changes the ordinary into the extraordinary.

In all of this the Son reveals the nature of the Father,
and the nature of the Kingdom of God.
God’s grace is extravagant.
There is more than enough to go around.
It is not only available to the extraordinary,
God’s grace, God’s Kingdom is open to the very ordinary.
The wine was not given to the deserving few;
there was more than enough for everyone.
The wine was not good enough,
it was the best.

This parable in actions is rich and deep in meaning.
There are echoes of Christ’s life, death and resurrection within it – moving away from ritual cleansing towards the once and for all cleansing of the blood of Christ we will commemorate again today as we come to communion.
I would encourage you,
as you come to drink this cup today,
to think upon the nature of our God.
The glorious truth that is revealed in this sign is that our God is gracious, generous, joyful and beyond our expectations.
This is our God, who takes the ordinary, like you and me, and can do most extraordinary things,
beyond our hopes and imaginings.