Six stoneware water pots were there … Each held twenty to thirty gallons.John 2:6
Somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons, or 450 to shy of 700 liters of wine. That is a sizeable collection that today would be some 600 to 900 bottles of wine.
We do not know how many people were invited to the wedding, and crowds back then might have been bigger than the usual western wedding of today, but still: this is a flood of wine, especially when you think that they had been feasting for a while and drunken quite a bit already.
What it tells me: God is not stingy. Think of the story of feeding the 4000 and the 5000. The leftovers were considerably more than what they started with.
Jesus talks so often of the afterlife being like a wedding feast. Some of those stories have some dualistic language to it: some did not want to come, others did not have appropriate clothing, and there seems to be a division of goats and sheep.
This is what we concentrate on and make a whole doctrine around. Beware, you have to accept the invite, dress accordingly, and behave like a sheep, not like a goat in order to make it to the wedding feast.
We certainly speak about the wonderful things that are awaiting us once we made it, but until then, grace does not seem to be as free as we say it is.
We focus on the stories with a mindset of scarcity. We project our own ways onto God. Of course one has to punish those that do not come, do not dress up, and behave out of limits.
Jesus turns the water that is used for spiritual cleansing – like showing up in meetings, dressing up in righteous clothing, and doing the necessary spiritual exercises – into wine – the drunkenness of the Spirit with joy and abundance.
Did the people afterwards behave correctly? I believe that they behaved joyfully and frolicsomely. It was a wedding after all.
Instead of talking about the end-times of selection who is allowed at the wedding feast and threatening people with the lake of fire, why not participate in the joy and display the abundance that awaits us at the wedding feast?
The church for such a long time focused on the requirements to make it to the wedding, to even get an invitation, and then on the many ways one could lose that right to be there. As if God wanted to prevent as many as possible to be at his sons wedding.
God does not live in scarcity. My wife and I had to keep the invitation list short and we asked the youth group of our church to do a banquet for us so they could join the feast. We were not living in abundance at that time, and in earthly standards we still don’t, but we learn more and more to live with an abundance mindset.
But God has enough for everybody.
We turned this into an individualistic thing as well. My own behaviour, and my own belief system will give me the invitation. Both are deeply performance oriented, even though everybody in evangelicalism would tell you that believing is not.
But still, we have to do some things in order to qualify. In the eyes of some, believing in Jesus Christ as Lord suffices. Once saved, always saved. Others think that spiritual exercises are necessary to help you keep believing. And many are too ready to draw limits of who is in and who is out.
Well, the bible tells us that we are not to judge lest we will be judged.
Why not believe in the human being that is in front of you, and trust in God to make the call – and if the call is: you are all in, so it may be. It’s His call, and I do not say that I know.
Why not trust God that he will have his way with people and lead them? And at times he will use my example, my lifestyle to hunch somebody into the direction he wants to go with them.
We, that we already know of the wedding feast and according to the bible are already seated with Christ at the wedding table, just are examples to have people desire what we have.
Well, we should be.
From the early days, maybe beginning as early as the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman, but certainly in Acts with the big discussion about circumcision, the church discussed the issue of who is in and who is out.
In Rom, the gentiles even decided that the Jews were out, and Paul had to correct them. Not that Romans is usually read this way – as a big argument between gentiles and Jews on the issue of exclusion. And it had lasting effects for centuries with replacement theology. And even today, we have an unhealthy swing-back towards seeming exclusion of the gentiles in favor of the Jews almost. See dispensationalism.
Paul settled it: there is no more woman or man, gentile or Jew, slave or free. There is the one new man in Christ.
And we heard: there is the one new man in Christ and the old man outside of Christ. And we, even though we say that we can’t, keep on deciding who belongs and who does not.
Throughout the bible, God teaches us to be more and more inclusive. He starts with a family (Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham), opens up to tribes that become a people, and then even gentiles.
And in Romans, he includes creation, as everything groans waiting for the sons of God to emerge.
We on the other side split churches and therefore have smaller and smaller tribes and church families that “believe the right way”. We develop backwards in regard to God’s plan.
When will we stop excluding and just start being an example of God’s abundance and abundant love?