THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, 6

Jesus goes to a party, John 2:1-11

Starting with chapter 2, there is recorded a series of miracles or signs.  These signs are given for a very specific purpose, which is also the stated purpose of the Gospel itself:

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Of special note is verse 11:

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Jesus performed no miracles prior to this one.  He lived a normal, human life up until this very moment.

(a)  A joyous affair, verses 1, 2

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.

It was the third day after Jesus had picked up two more disciples, Philip and Nathanael.  The timeline is fuzzy, however we are probably safe is assuming that Jesus and His first six disciples (Andrew, John, Peter, James, Philip, and Nathanael) had been traveling, on their way to Cana.   Cana was a small village nestled in the hills of Galilee.  Its exact location has been lost in history, but many scholars believe it was some nine miles north of Galilee.

A wedding is always a festive event, but it was especially so in Judaism.  The wedding feast would go on for days, with plenty of eating, drinking, and celebrating.   While this wedding was a historical event, the wedding metaphor was used frequently by Jesus to teach the nature of the Kingdom.

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  (Matthew 22:2)

Jesus even described Himself as a Bridegroom and His disciples as guests in Mark 2:19—20),

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”

What a marvelous way to describe the Kingdom—a party, and our relationship to Jesus Christ—as a bride to a bridegroom.

We are told that “Jesus’ mother was there.”  It is a curious fact that John never mentions the name of Jesus’ mother.  She was, in all likelihood, his aunt, the sister of his mother, Salome.  Since Mary seemed to know about the shortage of wine, she was probably not an invited guest but one of the organizers of the wedding.

Something else that is curious:  how was that “Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.”  Since Jesus had only gathered His disciples a couple of days prior to the wedding, how could they have been included in the invitation?  A possible solution may be that the original invitation was sent to Nathanael, who was himself from Cana, and that he extended the invitation to Jesus and the others.  The main point to learn is that Jesus did not avoid this celebration.  He was not an ascetic.

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  (Matthew 11:19)

Of all the refreshments provided at the wedding, the wine was the most important.  Running out of wine would have been a social disgrace of the highest degree.  In a small town where likely most of the invited quests would have been somehow all related to each other, such a catastrophe would never have been forgotten and would have haunted the new couple for years to come.

(b)  Simple faith personified, verses 3—4

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.”

Why did Mary think to tell Jesus about this potentially embarrassing situation?  Some have thought she was hinting that Jesus and His friends should leave the wedding feast since the extra guests might have caused the shortage.  Since it was a statement, not a question, it seems likely that Mary knew Jesus could solve the problem, for she knew who Jesus really was, (Luke 1:26—38)—

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  (verses 31—33)

Though Jesus sounded abrupt in His reply to His mother’s statement, He really was not.  “Woman,” gynai, was a polite form of address Jesus would use another time addressing her, while speaking to His mother from the Cross (19:26).

The TNIV’s translation of Jesus’ reply seems accurate.  “Why do you involve me?” could easily be, “What can I do?”  A little more confusing is His next statement:  “My hour has not yet come.”  What did Jesus mean by that?  There seem to be as many ideas as there are Bible scholars.  “My hour” probably refers to the ultimate revelation of His Divinity and purpose.  That hour occurred on the Cross.  Perhaps Jesus is gently chiding His mother by telling her that whatever He does at this feast won’t the thing that changes the world.  His mother knew full well who Jesus was, and perhaps like any mother proud of her son, Mary wanted Jesus to “get busy” and fulfill His calling.

At any rate, Mary demonstrated the kind of faith we all should have.  “Do whatever he tells you,” was all she said to the servants.  She knew her Son wouldn’t let her down, even though she didn’t know exactly what He would do.

(c)  An amazing miracle, verses 6—10

Jesus’ instructions couldn’t have been simpler.  The six stone water pots or jars were fairly large, holding more than 20 gallons apiece.  John goes out of his way to mention that these jars were not ordinary jars for a simple reason:  when Jesus meets a need, He meets that need abundantly!

John also makes mention that these water jars were “the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing.”  Why was that important for his readers to know?  These would have been the jars all the guests were supposed to have washed their feet in upon arriving at the wedding feast.  They represented the old way—the way of the Law—the way of legalism.  Jesus, by taking them and using them in a completely new and surprising way, demonstrated that the old ways were wholly inadequate to meet the real needs of man.  Jesus had come to make everything new.

The wine Jesus provided was of the best quality and was plentiful.  At a minimum, there would have been 120 gallons of water turned into wine.  That would have filled over 2,000 average-size wine glasses.  The custom was to dilute the wine three-to-one with water, meaning they would have had more than enough wine to carry on celebrating for several more days.

No wonder the Kingdom of God is compared to a wedding feast!

(d)  Powerful lessons

No matter how many times we may study this wonderful story, we can always find more spiritual truths tucked in among its verses.

  • What is important to us is important to Jesus.  Our Lord was not above attending a party.  Who would have guessed that the Son of God could be bothered with attending party?  With all the work He had to do, He took time to fellowship with family and to share in their joy.
  • The presence of Jesus can change a disastrous situation into an occasion for joy and celebration.  He can make things happen that would be impossible otherwise.  Water changing into wise is impossible, save for the work of Jesus.
  • When our resources run low, if we simply listen to and trust the Lord, our needs will be met, sometimes in very surprising ways.
  • Man can plan, but sometimes he comes may come up short.  When that happens, if we ask, the Lord will step in, provide what we need, and we will never be disappointed.
  • Sometimes God may use the things that seem so bad to us to glorify Himself.  Verse 11 indicates that this first miracle or sign revealed Christ’s glory.  It also says that:  “his disciples put their faith in him.”  Instead of panicking during dark times, we should put our trust and faith in God.  Who knows how many lives will be impacted by Christ because of a simple act of faith on our part?

Jesus goes to a party

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

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