( Sermon for the week of January 14th )
Water Turned to Wine
1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana
of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus
and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they
ran out of wine,the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have
no wine.” 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern
have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother
said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
6Now there were set there six water pots of stone, according
to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty
or thirty gallons a piece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the
water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to
the master of the feast.” And they took it.
9When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was
made wine,and did not know where it came from (but the servants
who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called
the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the
beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well
drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”
11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and
manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Water into wine! A miracle that only the Son of God can do.
An event witnessed by many and one of many miracles the Christ
does to show us, as John writes; "so that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through
believing you may have life in His name" (Jn 20:31).
First,let's cover two important points. Jewish weddings are
celebrated for 7 days. The whole community was invited and
celebrated with the bride and groom. It was very important
that the wedding party provide a grand celebration, and not run
out of one of the most important and basic staple of any large
celebration...wine. To run out of wine would be a serious
embarrassment for the newlyweds and the parents. In these days,
it was possible to take legal action against a man who had
failed to provide an appropriate wedding gift; and running out
of wine may render the bridegroom responsibility for failing to
provide an appropriate celebration. This may have been unlikely,
but one thing is certain...the bride and groom and their parents
would forever remember the shame the community would create for
the newlyweds and their families. It was a major faux paux
and would have serious consequences. It is also unlikely that the
wedding party would have run out of wine in the first or second day,
so we can assume that the wedding celebration has been going
for a while.
In these ancient times, the success of the wedding celebration
would foreshadow the success of the marriage. The people present
were living witnesses that the bride and groom indeed agreed
to marry, for no reliable written records were kept. The testimony
of the witnesses present at the wedding celebration was the only
way a couple could prove that they actually agreed to marry.
Second, we need to explain another point.
John refers to miracles as signs that reveal the glory of Jesus.
Jesus refers to them as Works (5:20,9:3-4,10:25,14:10-12,15:24).
A sign/miracle is much more than a demonstration of the Holy power
of the Lord...a sign reveals something...something beyond the "work"
itself. Many people still today do not understand the significance
of the Works/miracles Jesus did. They couldn't in Jesus' time and
some can't understand in today's time. The disciples believe (v11),
but the Jews are skeptical (v18). When Jesus performs miracles,
He doesn't explain all of them. This is Jesus' first act in this
Gospel. The wedding at Cana is not only a testimony to an actual
event and miracle, but provides clues to the meaning of the rest
of this Gospel.
What meaning am I referring to? Why would Jesus' first miracle
in this Gospel be wine for a party and what meaning unlocks the
rest of the Gospel? Why didn't Jesus perform a more spectacular
miracle? The point that I am getting to is crucial when reading
the miracles of Jesus, His statements, and parables. Jesus' spoken
words and acts have meaning on more than one level. It is only on
a superficial level that this story is about wine for a party.
For example, a person speaks (Mary for instance) and Jesus responds
with words or deeds that can be understood on an obvious level
or on a less obvious, spiritual level.
The wine was a miracle and saved the wedding party, and the wine
also represents the New Covenant that saves us embarrassment and
shame at our own "wedding party", our Judgement, that either leads
to heaven or leads to shame.
Therefore, in the Wedding at Cana,we must understand two levels.
The wine Jesus creates is a face-saving gift to the groom and his
family on a superficial level, and as verse 10 tells us, the
"inferior wine" of Jewish Law is replaced by the "good wine" of
Christ's Grace...in abundance. Two meanings...one of miraculous
proportions to the people present, and one of miraculous proportions
for the generations to come. Jesus creates the good wine,redemption
given to us by His Grace, and produces the good wine from water
when the old "water" of Jewish Law has run it's course, and has
run out. Jesus is the only One who can claim to ever have done
such a miracle...and He is the only One who can provide us with
Grace when the ways of the Old have run out and produce nothing
and we are in need of redemption.
Now let's break the reading down:
"On the third day"
This would be the third day after Jesus' encounter with Nathanael
(1:45-61). Notice that the first two stories in the Gospel of
John...the wedding at Cana and, yes, the cleansing of the temple
(how appropriate) are "third day" stories.
The number of Jesus is 3.
"In Cana of Galilee"
The location of Cana has been argued through time, but it is
believed to be near Nazareth. This is the only Gospel in which
Cana is mentioned. The importance of Cana is it's insignificance.
It is an unknown, unpopular town and we know that God chooses
unlikely candidates (Moses, David, Gideon, etc.) to do His works.
Likewise, God also chooses unlikely places to fulfill them in
(Bethlehem, Nazareth, Cana).
"and the mother of Jesus was there"
Jesus and the disciples were present but we don't know how many
of the disciples were there. Jesus' mother Mary, only appears twice
in the Gospel of John...here and at the cross (19:25-27).
Jesus and Mary must know the people in Cana or they would have not
been invited to this wedding. The people are receptive in this
unknown town, unlike the people of Judea who will be fierce
opponents of the miraculous Glory of Christ.
"When the wine gave out"
The people are simple, and expect simple wine. It is expected
that they will have the staples of a good wedding celebration...
for not providing them would be almost as bad as being a thief...
one who cheated the community out of a celebration.
"the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine'"
It seems that Mary expects her Son to do something. Joseph has
been dead for a while and Mary knows exactly the miracles that
surround her son since birth. She has seen Him handle problems
and knows he can handle this one.
"Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?"
Jesus seems to be saying "How am I involved in this problem?"
The translation of the word "woman" is not meant to be disrespectful
as it may sound, but instead is meant to distance Himself, a
distancing rebuke--a way of telling Mary that she shouldn't assume
that as the human mother of the Messiah, He should act on her
wishes or requests.
Jesus, the Son of God fulfills the requests and works for His
Father in heaven, not for human requests.
"My hour has not yet come"
Again, Jesus fulfills the works of the Father in Heaven and not
fulfilling human requests. Jesus' Glory is revealed later at
the Mt. of Transfiguration and at His death, resurrection,
and ascension. His Glory is revealed when the hour is set by God
the Father, not by any man or woman's time or will.
"Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites
Jews regard seven as a perfect or complete number, so six water
jars stand for the imperfect ways of man. Six is the number of man.
The Jewish rites of purification as shown by the number of stone
water jars, shows that it is NOT perfect, but incomplete, like
the ways of man...it comes close..six..but six is not seven!
"each holding two or three measures"
This is 20 or 30 gallons. One cup of water can purify a hundred
people...so these jars contain enough water to purify the world.
The water in these purification jars shows us that when Jesus
changes them into wine there is enough to purify the whole word.
His Grace is abundant...more than enough for everyone and everyone
may have redemption if they choose to.
"Jesus said to them,, "Fill the jars with water.' And they
filled them up to the brim".
The servants obey Jesus. They are fully obedient to his command
even though these jars must have been very difficult to handle
"Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward"
The chief steward is in charge of the celebration and the
distribution and quality of the wine. The water of Jewish ritual
is turned into wine (later by the blood of Jesus) and is the
New Wine which has meaning on a higher level as the New Covenant.
The chief steward calls this wine, the "best", better than the
wine first served at the beginning of the wedding celebration...
this wine/Grace is better that any wine/Grace this world has
"When the steward tasted the water that had become wine"
The servants pour the water and it became wine. Mary,
the disciples, and the servants know what Jesus has done.
"and did not know where it came from"
Jesus did this miracle quietly. The steward should know where
the wine came from but doesn't...it is the servants who know.
Just like the religious leaders...they should understand who
Jesus is but don't and it is the ordinary people who know who
He is and believe.
"But you have kept the good wine until now"
The key to the story. Moses was not the best gift God gave to
Israel and to the world. He has kept the best for last...
the coming of Jesus. This story is about moving the water of the
law and prophets to the wine of Jesus' Grace.
"and his disciples believed in Him"
The purpose of Jesus' miracles is to inspire faith. There are
seven miracles in the Gospel of John...seven being the number
of perfection.Not everyone who witnesses these miracle believe...
and one must ask what in the heavens would make these people believe!
Nothing could make these hard headed people believe. Those who are
ingrained in the religious AND political establishment AND those
who have to maintain their status quo...will never believe.
They don't want eternal life and couldn't recognize God if they
stared Him right in the face.
Thank God we are common people who are not selfish and foolish
enough to turn our backs on the Only Son of God, who has
demonstrated to this world His Glory, His miracles, and His
sacrifice, numerous times. In fact,Jesus has done so many Works
that it would be sickening that He would have to do more to
convince us that He is the Creator and Son of God.
There is only One Jesus, and only One who can turn water into
the wine of redemption provided through His Grace. This Good News
is indeed Good enough to have our own celebration!
God Bless you and your families this week.
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