In preparation for our last Gathering I began to pay closer attention to the story in the Gospel of John of the wedding feast at Cana—and to the nearly identical but significantly different version of the same event we find in the Gospel of the Beloved Companion. I’ve found myself moving deeper and deeper into this ‘public outing’ of Jesus by his mother, and finding a resonance with what’s up spiritually for many of us today.
We’ve discussed before the theory, accepted by some significant scholars, that John is, in fact, a rewrite of the Beloved Companion text, edited to downplay the role of women and significantly refocus the message of Jesus. We can see both of those purposes in the comparison of these two texts. Beloved Companion identifies many guests by name: Jesus’ mother, of course, and his sister Miryam Salome, and two brothers, Jacob and Joseph. Also at the feast are Martha, Lazarus and their sister, the beloved companion herself, Mary . (The names are spelled differently in this gospel; I’m sticking with the familiar versions to keep things simple.)
The Gospel of John also has Jesus and his mother in attendance, of course, along with some unnamed disciples. No women are mentioned, aside from Jesus’ mother. If there is a relationship between the two texts—and I am personally convinced that there is—the guest list has been greatly simplified in the later Gospel of John. No women allowed. Discuss amongst yourselves!
The second difference is basic to the demonstration itself. In both versions of the story Jesus is reluctant to get involved in the great wine shortage. His Jewish mother (not to engage in stereotypes) completely ignores his protestations that the time is all wrong and simply tells the waiters to do whatever her son tells them to do.
Let’s pause here for a moment to appreciate the fact that Jesus was as reluctant to put his faith to work in the world as we so often are. It’s one thing to study, contemplate and even teach spiritual Truth. Claiming that Truth and putting it into action, with everyone watching, is another thing altogether. Sometimes we need a gentle (or not) nudge to move us forward. Jesus did, too. I think that’s encouraging!
We know how the story continues in John. Jesus has the waiters fill six large jars with water, then has them fill a cup and take it to the steward—who tastes and then (rather rudely, I think) chastises the groom for saving the best for last. The Beloved Companion tells basically the same story, with one very significant difference. Faced with the same appearance of lack, Jesus tells the servants to take the wine that is left and pour it equally into the six stone jars. He then has them fill the jars with water. He prays quietly for a moment, then has them draw wine for the steward, with the same result.
Do you see the difference? Jesus’ demonstration is not a one-of-a-kind divine dispensation to the Law, granted to him and him alone. It is based in a profound understanding of the spiritual Law that is valid for all of us: What we believe, we create. If we believe there is lack, we create lack. If, on the other hand, we appreciate what we already have, and if we believe in our own creative Power, then no appearance of lack can stand before us. We will see past the illusion of lack to the Truth of infinite abundance.
I’ve got to admit, I’m not quite there yet. I’m getting better with the appreciation part; it’s holding steady with my faith that is the challenge.
I have certainly manifested from belief, and so have you. We do it all the time, but too often the underlying (often subconscious) belief is in the appearance instead of the Truth, so what we manifest is as muddy as our faith. Now that we know the Truth of our spiritual Beingness, it’s time to consciously put the Law to work by drawing divine ideas from that Spirit within and manifest them with our faith.
This version of the story reminds me of Elisha and the destitute widow in 2 Kings:4 whose very children are about to be taken from her to pay her husband’s debts. All she has in the world is a small amount of oil. The prophet tells her to gather every vessel, of any type, from her home; he also sends her to borrow empty vessels from her neighbors. He has her begin pouring from her small supply; there is such an abundance of oil that every vessel is filled to the brim. When the last vessel has been filled, the flow of oil stops.
I think the vessels in both stories represent our own divine ideas. If we appreciate the ideas and fill them with our liquid faith, those vessels will be abundantly realized. When we run out of ideas, we are limiting our own abundance. That’s how it works, and that’s the message that became the first demonstration of Jesus’ public ministry.
Jesus has more to say on the subject in the Gospel of the Beloved Companion. That will have to wait until my next message. Meanwhile, gather your vessels! Name your creative ideas of abundance and freedom, shape them with your power of imagination, and totally know that they are yours to experience.