Feasting with God #8
The Wedding at Cana
6Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Wedding receptions are meant to be joyful events. The feasting and the drinking of wine are all intended to honor the estate of marriage, and specifically to commemorate the joy of the now-wedded couple as they enter into their new life together. It would have been rather awkward, therefore, at this wedding in Cana, if the wine ran out at an inopportune time. No, the bride and groom wouldn’t have been driven out of town for failing to supply adequate wine, but they definitely would have felt embarrassed, and been viewed in an embarrassing perspective by the guests. When Mary initially came to Jesus, she had the comfort and well-being of the happy couple in mind.
And Jesus, too, had sympathy on them. Really, this is the point of this miracle. Throughout his ministry on earth Jesus had sympathy on those in need. He felt what they felt, and he yearned to make them better. This miracle, being “the first of his signs,” was where he began to show the public who he was, what power he had, and for what purpose he had come. From here on out, Jesus’ sphere of influence really began to radiate outward into a wider and wider circle, but for now, his blessings came upon a simple family, a newly wedded couple.
John takes note first of all of the immense quantity of wine that was made: “six stone water jars… each holding twenty or thirty gallons each holding twenty or thirty gallons.” Then, he also notes the remarkable quality of that wine created by Jesus: “You have kept the good wine until now.” This was a very fine wedding gift granted by Jesus to the happy couple. And it foreshadows the rest of what he would accomplish here on earth. Jesus’ work was the salvation of mankind; in other words, Jesus came to transform the plain and grimy nature of man into the holy and glorious forms made in his image; he came to take what was base and unworthy of consideration and turn it into something noble. This he did with the water used for ceremonial washing, turning it into wine, and this he did with our sinful human natures, turning them into his own righteousness.
It has been said that Jesus joins us in all our sorrows, all our joys, all our temptations (cf. Hebr. 4:15). At this wedding he sought to join in the joy, and to enhance it. He came into this world to increase our joy. What joy can be greater than that of the knowledge of our salvation, won for us by the one who lived a perfection we could never reach and then died to take the punishment meant for us? This miracle is called by St. John a “sign,” and what it signifies is both the divine power of Jesus as god, and the great delight he takes in lending a helping hand to his fellow man.
Dear Lord, you have suffered as we have suffered, and you have rejoiced as we have rejoiced. But never let us lose sight of the great joy we have since you have won for us the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation from a wicked world. Let us look on this your first miracle as a sign of your divine omnipotence and so find we can trust in you, and also as an indication of your great love for us, so that we can come with confidence to you in prayer for all our needs. In your blessed name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.