patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Today I reread John’s account—the only account—of what he says is Jesus’ first miracle: changing water into wine. His mom, having noticed that the wine has run out, talks him into doing something about it, even though, as Jesus points out, his “hour has not yet come” (John 2:4 NIV). Mary’s motive is presumably to save the wedding hosts embarrassment, although John doesn’t specifically say this.

That wouldn’t have been my motive. I’d have been interested in there being more wine.

And this story’s all about wine. We don’t know whether the wine Jesus vinted was white or red, sweet or dry, but we do know it was quality wine. After Jesus makes it, he sends some to the “master of the banquet”—who would have been something like a caterer and butler and sommelier rolled into one job. Even though the guests are already drunk, as the master of the banquet marvels, this newly arrived wine is not the cheaper wine one would have expected to be served at that late hour, toward the end of the celebration, but “choice wine.” He tells the bridegroom, “you have saved the best till now" (John 2:10).

And Jesus doesn't just make really good wine. He makes a lot of it. A whole lot of it. Specifically, “six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons(John 2:6), and Jesus has servants fill them “to the brim” (John 2:7).

That’s, um, somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons of wine. Translated into the 750 milliliter bottles of today, that’d be between 606 and 909 bottles of wine. Really good wine. Even if it was a really really big wedding and those already drunk guests got very very drunk, the bride and her husband were still enjoying that wine for years to come, I’m guessing. A happy ending that John neglects to report.

Except that, without being bottled and corked and without the sulfites vintners add to wine nowadays to preserve it, whatever didn’t get drunk up that night would have turned to vinegar soon afterward. I know this because, when I lived in Berlin—where people drink beer, not wine, so wine is expensive—the only wine cheap enough for me to buy for a dinner party was this Portuguese red wine that came in those five liter bottles with basketry on the outside. It was a tasty, sour, peasant wine, thin-bodied and without any sulfites. Whatever was leftover after my drunken guests left to zigzag their way to the U-Bahn turned to vinegar within a week.) A sad ending that John also doesn’t report.

1 comment:

  1. A master winemaker, highest quality, abundant, free. I'll drink to that.