The question is often asked of Jesus, “What kind of man is this?” But at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11) having established the divinity of Jesus (John 1:1), John confronts us (well, me) with the intriguing question: “What kind of God is this?
If God were to become a man, what kind of man would He be? And if He were to reveal His glory, what would that look like? According to John, God would be the kind of man who started a micro-brewery at a wedding. And His would be the kind of glory that filled you with joy rather than exposed your shame for all the world to see.
Of Jesus, we read,
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:3)
To say that Jesus is the image of God is to say that this is what God is like. And what is He like? What kind of God is God?
In Jesus Christ, ordinary people met a God that they wanted at their parties. In Jesus, they met a God who didn’t care about status or station in life when it came to friendship.
People wanted Jesus to be their friend. Why? Because Jesus was and is eminently likeable.
In Jesus, ordinary people met with a God who knew how to weep with those who weep. But they also met with a God who knew how to laugh.
In the Old Testament, the people encountered a God who could take a swing at the bathroom habits of Canaan’s idols (1 Kings 18:27), a God who could poke fun at the intestinal woes of a pagan king (Judges 3:21-22) and a God who was happy to accomplish His plans through Jehu’s road rage (2 Kings 9:20).
In the New Testament, they encountered the same God, only now in the flesh. A God who knew how to laugh, sing and make friends. The kind of God who taught His followers about grace by turning 520 litres of dirty water into 690 bottles of Shiraz at a Wedding.
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine. (John 2:1-3)
We sometimes fret that God does not understand the people He has made. But His miracle at the wedding in Cana is geared to make you smile – and laugh – and make your jaw drop at the familiar and lovely way God has chosen to live and make His home with us in this world.
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The stone pots at this wedding were for washing your dirty hands and feet according to the purification custom of the Jews. It was a vivid symbol of the law and reminded you of your dirt. It reminded you of your shame.
But who wants to feel their shame all the time?
We all carry with us a great deal of shame and guilt. But Jesus does not set His new wine alongside the grey water in order to highlight your dirt.
Instead, Jesus transforms the dirty water into something you can rejoice in. Now you can look at these pots and instead of seeing your dirt, you see mercy. Instead of dreading God, you can now sit with Him and eat and drink and rejoice in His friendship.
This is what it meant for Jesus to reveal His glory in His very first miracle here in Cana (John 2:11). God did not turn up to expose your dirt and but to turn your guilt into gladness.
Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton. But for the ordinary man or woman, it felt good to be around Jesus. Why? Because in Jesus we met with a God who had come to take away all of our shame so as never to revisit it again.
What kind of God is this? A God of joyful generosity. A God who causes us all to laugh and rejoice because He is the kind of God that laughs and rejoices.
God has chosen to do the unthinkable. He has chosen to enter into this world of wine and weddings and do the laughing and the rejoicing with us as a man. And that makes this God, the only true God, a God worthy of all praise.