3rd Sunday of Epiphany 20.1.13 John 2.1-11

12 01 2013

The Sign of New Wine

This story is told every Epiphany season. John calls it the first sign. It is itself a revelation, a disclosure. But who learns what on this happy occasion?

John 2.1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ 4And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 6Now standing there were six stonewater-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

English: Icon of the wedding at Cana

English: Icon of the wedding at Cana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

‘Head Questions’

  1. What does ‘twenty or thirty gallons’ look like? How many buckets, pints or litres… go, on work it out.
  2. What do you make of the miraculous?  Was this simply a sign or more than a sign?
  3. What does it means to say that Jesus ‘revealed his glory’ here?

‘Heart Questions’

  1. How do you feel about the mother of Jesus in verses 1, 3, 4 & 5? (Notice she disappears after that.)
  2. What did the chief steward make of all this? Why not tell the story from his perspective?
  3. What do the two words ‘good wine’ mean to you? What is their flavour?

‘Hand Questions’

  1. Who in the story gives an example of behaviour to be followed?
  2. Is your habit to serve your ‘best wine’ first, or do you slowly reveal what you have to offer?
  3. His disciples believed because they saw the sign and perceived the glory. Why do you believe? With whom can you share this?


These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.