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Death in Tripoli, Christchurch, Jersey and Cana

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee… the wine ran out … Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of cleansing, each holding 75 to 100 litres. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.”.... The master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “…. You have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee. After this he went down to Capernaum…     John 2: 1-12


This week has been a week of great distress through the sudden death of so many people. In Libya the toll may run into thousands if not tens of thousands through the use of tanks, aircraft and heavy armaments.


In Christchurch a toll of over 300 has befallen the people of a cosmopolitan city centre. And in Jersey the never changing stream of Notices in the Jersey Evening Post continues unabated – and seemingly will never stop.


In bold above you will see that, the incident of changing water into wine is bracketed by words both at the beginning and at the end that state that it occurred at Cana in Galilee.


Bracketing only 11 sentences of prose, why state that twice over?


Was it because this incident in Jesus’ life was not the only one that John the biographer records as taking place at Cana of Galilee.


Here’s the other one.


So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.


So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.


As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”


The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.


How interesting that, in the first sign at Cana in Galilee, the wine that symbolised great joy and rejoicing had run out. When bereaved of a much loved father many years ago a Jersey lady found that she wanted to shout, “Stop it, Stop it, Stop it” to people she passed by who were laughing and smiling. How can one rejoice over anything when death is upon us all?


Death has wiped away many smiles this week - wine cannot overcome it.


There is a key fact missing from the wedding story in bold above. The fact is that Jesus made it very clear that he would not be able to bring true joy, real joy, and real freedom from death, at the wedding. He told his mother why that was so. He said, “My hour has not yet come.”


Later in the biography we do know when his hour did in fact come. Jesus’ biographer makes it abundantly clear that his hour came at the cross when he was put to death on behalf of, in place of others.


What happened at Cana in Galilee is of great importance for us – now that the hour for Jesus to be “lifted up” has indeed come.

‘The character wherewith we sink into the grave at death is the very character wherewith we shall reappear at the resurrection.’ (Thomas Chalmers, Scottish mathematician and preacher, 1780-1847)
‘Joy is the serious business of heaven. (C S Lewis, Author of The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, 1898-1963)
Richard Syvret

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