The Wedding at Cana is a paradigmatic ‘sign’ (semeion – σημεῖον) that somehow encompasses the implications of the other signs. It is not just the first sign but more emphatically as the text testifies ‘the beginning of signs’. (ἀρχὴν τῶν σημείων – 2:11). It is of prime importance to note that the term John prefers to use is σημεῖον – ‘sign’. σημεῖον communicates in and of itself a mystery urging us to look beyond the mere semantics – towards a greater version of reality. Thus a literal appropriation of these narratives would compromise on the magnitude of revelation they inspire us to discover.
There is a total of seven signs in the Gospel of John which have a purpose for being written; “𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 (𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘴) 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘑𝘦𝘴𝘶𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘔𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘢𝘩, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘎𝘰𝘥, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦.” (20:31).
The Gospel of John presents Moses as a prototype of Jesus; “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” (5:46). Therefore just as Moses began the plagues by transforming the waters of Nile into blood and consummated with the slaughter of the Passover Lamb so also does Jesus – the Paschal Lamb (1:29) – begin His signs with transforming the water into wine which would subsequently be transformed into His blood on the Cross where He would be slaughtered because unlike other Gospels, in the Gospel of John the crucifixion of Christ coincides with the slaying of the Passover Lamb (John 19:14). Thus St. Clement writes; “The Scripture has named wine as the symbol for sacred blood.”
Finally, although the wedding feast at Cana makes mention of the bridegroom, it is oblivion about the bride thereby creating a vignette of a rebuffed bridegroom until we turn to the book of Revelation where the true bride of Christ, the Paschal Lamb, is finally unveiled; “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:9). Having earmarked one entire book for the bridegroom, John decides to write another book i.e. Revelation – forming a two part royal romance – to unveil the expectant bride of Christ for “the ultimate unveiling of the Son is the unveiling of the Bride.” As Peter Leithart reckons;
“𝘑𝘦𝘴𝘶𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘶𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘪𝘭𝘴 𝘰𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘴; 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘳𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬, 𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘶𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘥. 𝘑𝘦𝘴𝘶𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘶𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘦𝘳 1, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘶𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘶𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘦 (21:1-22:5). 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘯, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘑𝘦𝘴𝘶𝘴’ 𝘨𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩, 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘮 𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺. 𝘐𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘢𝘺, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺, 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘰𝘯 𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘥. 𝘐𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘈𝘥𝘢𝘮 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘦, 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵.”
𝘍𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘎𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 !
~ 𝐃𝐚𝐲𝐫𝐨𝐲𝐨 𝐅𝐫. 𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐥