One of the gifts of having two young children is that I end up watching television shows I might not otherwise watch. Well, its a gift sometimes. Our third go ’round of the Thundermans isn’t really a gift at this point. Anyway, one of the shows we like to watch as a family is America’s Got Talent. You probably know the premise, but it is basically a variety show in which acts of all kinds compete for a million dollar prize and a show in Las Vegas. I think it is safe to say that our favorite acts in AGT are the close up magic acts. What those people can do right in front of your eyes, and how it can be conveyed both to the judges, mere inches away, and in my living room thousands of miles and a DVR time-hop away, is nothing short of amazing.
As I re-read the Gospel lesson appointed for Sunday, the well-worn story of Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana, I couldn’t help but wonder how quickly he would have gotten X’d off by Simon.
In John’s Gospel, there are seven signs, or miracles, highlighted in Jesus’ ministry: 1) water into wine, 2) healing the boy in Capernaum, 3) healing the paralytic in Bethesda, 4) feeding the 5,000, 5) walking on water, 6) healing the man born blind, and 7) raising Lazarus from the dead. When compared with the other six, this first sign of turning 180 gallons of water into the finest of wines seems like nothing more than a silly parlor trick. It is the kind of close of magic that my daughters perform with a deck of cards and their ability to count to 10.
My severe eye-roll at this miracle notwithstanding, the response to it by the disciples is pretty astonishing. Somehow, in the wave of his hand, turning water into wine, Jesus revealed his glory. Despite the fact that it was not yet his time, and that like his baptism, it seems he only did it to make his mama happy, in this first sign, Jesus revealed to the world his glory – his magnificence, grace, and majesty – the same Greek word used to describe his Second Coming with “power and glory.” Somehow, in John’s Gospel, by way of what I would deem to be a cheap trick, it seems Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God, and in so doing, his disciples came to believe in him.
That’s the funny thing about faith. I doesn’t come to us all in the same way. I might roll my eyes at the wedding miracle and prefer to look at Mark’s first miracle of healing a demoniac in Capernaum as more revelatory, but that’s me. For others, this miracle of water turning into wine shows Jesus power of the nature, it affirms his status as the pre-existent Word from John’s prologue, and sets up the other six miracles that will follow. No matter how we get to it, each of these signs are meant to point us to the truth that Jesus really is the Son of God. Each, in its own unique way, shows us the authority given by the Father to the Son. Each calls us to answer the question the disciples had to reckon in the middle of that wedding banquet. Do you believe?