So, we have this group called BUNS – where we look at a Bible passage, play Uno and eat NibbleS ….
last time, we were looking at John chapter 2, where Jesus goes to a wedding and turns water into wine.
Whatever you think about the miracle as recorded, it’s important to think about the context, and ask if there might be something going on under the surface.
I think I read somewhere that ‘context is everything.’
Whether it’s everything or not, it’s definitely important, as is our own context.
I’m listening to a podcast at the moment called the Bartcast, specifically some talk by Ched Myers on the Gospel of Mark. He’s opening up some interesting lines of thought about what might be going on in the Gospel that is related to the social and policital setting at the time of Jesus. It’s got me thinking more about the possible sub texts in gospel passages, and I had some thoughts about the ‘water into wine’ incident.
In the account, they have run out of wine at the wedding – the bar has run dry. There’s a major panic, and Jesus’ mother tries to get him to do something. (What did she think he was going to do ….?).
He’s not keen intially, but his mother seems to have an inkling that he might do something, so she tells the servants to be prepared for action.
Jesus seems to change his mind and sees these water jars, six of them, each one holding over 100 litres of water. (The water is used for ceremonial washing). Jesus tells the servants to fill them right up to the brim and then draw some off to take to the master of ceremonies. Of course, it’s become wine, and the wedding party is saved.
Now I’ve heard quite a few sermons on this passage and preached on it a few times myself. But I’ve never had this thought before. Obviously everyone is very happy to drink the wine … but actually are they happy to drink it, or would some of them be a bit unsure if they knew where it had come from – holy water jars ?
Because these water jars aren’t just any old water jars. They’re used for a religious ceremony. And now they’re being used to help a party get into the swing again after and embarassing lull in the proceedings.
What if there’s something going on here that is a bit naughty. A bit of a dig at the people who control the religious side of life. And an encouragement to the general crowd to drink the holy water (that is now beaujolais, or equivalent). I think what Jesus has done is pretty subversive. He’s taken what is set aside for a religious purpose and made it common property. He’s punctured the sacred balloon. He’s driven a coach and horses through … sorry, I’m getting a bit carried away with metaphors here, but I hope you get the idea.
Religious people sometimes set up what we might call a sacred / secular divide, where a part of life is for religion (like Church on a Sunday) and the rest of the time, life is for living. But isn’t everything sacred, isn’t everything holy ?
In the subtext of Marks’ Gospel, there are things going on that are more about the political setting, probably to do with the plight of the poorest people, and who has the power, and how that dynamic needs to change. Maybe this incident in John’s Gospel is more about who has the power in the religious world, and Jesus taking an axe to that particular tree. I don’t know, I’m just asking.
Grace and peace anyway …