“On the third day, a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.” (John 2:1–12 NIV11-GKE)
This is the wedding that changed everything!
Weedings are like that! They change the lives of people.
Not just the couple is making a life commitment but also of their families, friends and community. Legally, according to the law, your life now has changed.
Why is this wedding so significant to the life, ministry of Jesus?. Why is this wedding that changes the course of history? This is the mother of all weddings.
The book of John is full of mysticism and symbolism. This is the 3rd day, the 3rd day of Jonah and the 3rd day of Jesus’ resurrection. There are seven signs in this book. This is the first one, but again seven is the number of perfection and creation. The signs are there pointing to Jesus.
This is not a wedding that Jesus says it is ok to drink wine! Drinking wine was part of the diet of that time, as it is now in many countries in the world. This is not a wedding, where the mother and the son have a discussion, and the son appears to be harsh with the mother. This is not a wedding that has the purpose of affirming marriage. Marriage was established well before this wedding took place.
What is this wedding all about?
There are three things that I want to say about this wedding.
- The Wine
“John 2:1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, John 2:2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. John 2:3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” (John 2:1–3 NIV11-GKE)
Jesus, his family and disciples, were in Cana which was North of Nazareth. It is possible that the couple getting married were related to Jesus, there is no mention of Joseph.
The wedding was the fulfilment of a year long of being engaged. An engagement that has legal implications and where the new couple had a year to get everything ready. Weddings in the middle east are a social affair, and they can last a week with guests to be fed and lots of drink to be drank (wine).
There are warnings about the abuse of wine, but also there are prophecies about wine, just look at Isaiah 55 the prophet tells the exile community to come and eat, to buy wine and milk. Why?
Because wine was a sign of God’s blessing “He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.” (Deuteronomy 7:13 NIV11-GKE)
It is a sign of God’s joy. The book Nehemiah tells us that after the victory and after Ezra read the law, Nehemiah told the people these words “Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 ESV)
It is a prophetic picture of what is to come, of restoration and joy when the New Wine will come dripping from the mountains: “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills,” (Amos 9:13 NIV11-GKE)
Therefore, the wine was very much part of life within the people of God. It has religious importance, it was a sign of God’s blessing, and it was a prophetic sign of good things to come. It represents Joy, being merry and celebration.
So to run out of wine was a disaster for the wedding hosts! It was an embarrassment for the family.
We do know why the wine runs out, and they drank all of it! Maybe they had more people coming to the wedding, or someone made a mistake in ordering the wine for a week! We don’t know what we do know is that they did and now they were in trouble.
I don’t want to over spiritualise the Bible, but I think it would just fare to make this observation:
This may be a picture of us, the church, after all, we are the Bride of Christ, and it is just possible that we are drinking from a wine that was good, but not good enough for the time we are living. It is very possibly that we are running out of that wine. The prophet Amos spoke about the New Wine coming. It could be that this New Wine is for a New Wineskins! It could be that the Lord is saying to us, the wine you are drinking right now is old.
- The Mother
“John 2:3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” John 2:4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:3–5 NIV11-GKE)
These verses have been interpreted in many different ways. Some believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is acting as a mediator, an intercessor. This is possible; it is Mary, who becomes aware of the situation, asks Jesus to do something about it.
It seems that Jesus’ response is not the most cordial and respectful to her mother. We would expect him saying “Mother! – why do you want me to do?
But, this is not the case, Jesus’ words just reflected the culture of his time, and to call her woman was a respectful way of talking to Mary. In fact at the end of the book of John when Jesus was about to die, he turned to Mary and said “woman”, behold your son, meaning John, the beloved disciple, the one who wrote this Gospel.
I believe that Mary was a very spiritual woman. She had favour with God and she knew all too well who was his son! Deep inside, she understood that her son, Jesus, was the saviour of the world.
She knew this to be true! It was prophesied to her by Simeon and Anna at the temple when they came to present Jesus and by Gabriel the angel. Mary, the mother, the wife, the woman that God set apart is now pointing us to Jesus.
Mary is pointing to Jesus, and because Jesus is aware of this situation, he then makes a remarkable statement!
“My hour has not yet come”!
We can confidently say that this Jesus was pointing to the time and hour of his death, crucifixion and resurrection. The author of this Gospel is pointing towards the end of the book. It is a sign.
Mary turns her attention to the servants, and she said: “Do whatever he tells you”. This is another sign! She is now calling out the servants and direct them to Jesus, and now Jesus is at the centre of of the story.
I want you to see this! They run out of wine! This was the main issue but now it is not, we are all waiting now to see what Jesus is going to do.
Something is about to happen! Jesus is about to do something, and he is going to commence his ministry, his public ministry at a wedding!
Let me now bring to a practical level. Where do you tend to focus most? On the problems?, On the pandemic? Are we not seeing the signs?
Is it Jesus the centre of our attention? Because if he is, then something is going to happen, something good is about to happen.
“John 2:6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. John 2:7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. John 2:8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, John 2:9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside John 2:10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” John 2:11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:6–11 NIV11-GKE)
Jesus tells the servant to go to the six stone water jars that were used for ceremonial washing! That should be our first clue! That is a lot of water! Why ceremonial washing? Because it was imperative. The law, the Jewish customs dictated that before every meal and after the meal the was a need for cleansing. So the six stone water jars were there for people to wash before and after the meal. It would be unthinkable not to do it.
Jesus tells the servants to draw water from the stone water jars and to bring it to the master of ceremony. They do so, and as he drinks the cup, he realised that this is wine is better than anything he ever drank before.
That is why his remarks are so refreshing and surprising! I don’t know if the couple realised what just happened. All I know that they went from a potential embarrassment and shame to being honoured.
Just think about what I said! From embarrassment and shame to being honoured. Isn’t this what Jesus does, what God does with us? To take our shame away so that we can be honoured in his presence through the merits of his Son Jesus. Total restoration, healed, and delivered.
Now, let me ask you: who did the miracle? The miracle, the sign was done by Jesus and the servants and this reveals two essential principles in the kingdom of God: Jesus said it and it was obeyed. Word released, Word obeyed.
There something else that we cannot ignore, and I believe it is the very heart of the story.
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” This sign points us to see the Glory of God in Jesus and when we are exposed to the glory we are transformed.
What is God saying? Obey me, trust me and watch what is about to unfold.