Devotional — ‘A complete worship’

Published 12:01 pm Saturday, February 5, 2022

When the Steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now. John 2:9-10 NRS

The Gospel of John can be a difficult read for Christians in the “western church”.  It is highly symbolic, using allegory to highlight what Jesus is accomplishing throughout His earthly ministry. In this passage, the clue to this allegory is in the naming of the time (the third day) and the seven jars used for Jewish ritual cleansing.

In the first chapter, John tells us Jesus’ linage and Jesus’ ability to reconnect heaven and earth. Then, early in the second chapter, John is giving the reader glimpses of what is involved in this business of salvation. The “empty jars” symbolize the dry, dead worship practices in Israel and by filling them with water; they are restored to vessels that are useful for proper worship. With proper worship, the finest wine (which gladdens the human heart) is available for all who celebrate a complete reunion with God. This entire passage gives a foretaste of what is available with Christ’s sacrificial death and his resurrection.

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It also gives us an understanding of what a life living for God looks like. While worship should have moments for oft-repeated prayers, songs and responses, these cannot continually sustain us. If we depend only on Sunday worship and the corporate time with God to bring us into the close relationship, we will be disappointed. Our relationship with God will be as dry as the empty jars in our passage.

However, if we mix corporate worship with daily times dedicated to prayer and being in God’s presence we will become filled to the brim. We will be filled with something that will make our hearts glad in ways that are only possible when we dwell with God and enjoy living in God’s presence in the here, and now. Then, and only then are we equipped to join with Christ in his ministry in the world. 

Perhaps in this time between Epiphany and Lent we should concentrate on “filling our jars” for the road ahead.

Keith Leach is Pastor of College Church and College Chaplain at Hampden-Sydney College. He can be reached at