John 2:1-12 The Wedding Feast
Three is the number of abundant witness in the scripture (II Corinthians 13:1 In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established). This is the third day of Christ's ministry. He is in Cana of Galilee and for the third time witness is given as to His authority to be the Messiah. On the first occasion God the Father gives witness by declaring Him, through John the Baptist, the "Lamb of God upon who the Spirit of God rested" On the second occasion man gives witness to Christ's authority when Nathaniel acknowledges Him as "the Son of God the King of Israel." Now, on the third day, nature gives witness to His divinity.
Christ and His disciples are called by His mother to attend a marriage feast as He begins His ministry on earth. When He began His ministry in heaven another call to a wedding was sent out by His Father which is also to be attended by Christ and His disciples. There are many parallels which can be drawn between the two feasts.
1. At the earthly invitation His work has just begun. At the heavenly invitation His work has been completed.
2. His mother seems to be residing over the earthly wedding. His Father will reside over the heavenly wedding.
3. At the earthly wedding He and His disciples were just another face in the crowd. At the heavenly He and His disciples will be the guests of honor.
4. At the earthly wedding He and His disciples are surrounded by His earthly creation. At the heavenly feast they will be surrounded by His heavenly creation.
5. The earthly feast is faulty and results in a lack of wine. The heavenly feast will be perfect and will lack nothing, which brings us back to the narrative.
We can assume that Mary was in a position of responsibility at the ceremony because she approaches Christ with the problem of the wine shortage and expects her eldest to deal with the problem. Christ's response reveals to us focus of His ministry on this earth.
First, He addresses Mary as "Woman" not Mother. In this one word he places her in the created order and shows that His relationship to her as her Savior has now preempted His relationship to her as a son. This position will carry to the cross when in His final breaths He says to Mary, "Woman behold thy son," and to John, "Behold thy mother."
His work on this earth was not temporal, physical one but an eternal, spiritual one. He says to Mary, "what have I to do with thee?" If stated in today's English the phrase would read, "what business is this of mine?" He did not come to this world to do the bidding of His creation (Mary), He came to do the bidding of His Father (God). It is true that He performed many miracles while on this earth but they were not the focus of His coming. They were merely picture lessons to show His disciples His objective in coming. He miraculously changed the water to wine and fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes but those who ate and drank, became hungry and thirsty a few hours later. They were merely lessons that pointed to His true work, that of giving to His people an eternal life in which they would never hunger or thirst again. He healed the sick and raised the dead but each of those people got sick and died later on. Their miraculous healing was used as an object lesson for His disciples to see that His work on earth was to give a life to His children that extended beyond the grave. Christ knew His work and He knew, at that wedding in Cana, the time had not yet come for Him to do it. That great work was three and one half years in the future when He would lay down His life for His people and miraculously provide eternal life for them.
Mary accepts Christ's response yet realizes He will still meet His creation on the physical level and commands the servants to do as He requests. Notice the absence of rebuttal in their exchange. Christ is not refusing to do His mother's bidding in this passage, He is simply reminding her, as he did at the temple nearly 20 years earlier that He must be about His Father's business. He will sustain us in this physical life, meeting our needs, sometimes miraculously, but His business is our eternal salvation. In order to understand the work of the Lord in our lives we need to look beyond the physical. When the hand of God reaches down to touch us in this life do not view it as an end unto itself. Accept it as Christ's perfect hand reaching down to a sin-cursed earth to give us a taste of the glory that awaits us.
We see such a picture in the miracle at the marriage feast. Jesus tells the servants to fill six water pots of stone. Not just any water pots but those which are used for the purification process. When Israelites touched something unclean they used jugs like these to wash themselves. They present to us a picture of the law, necessary for cleansing but bringing no joy to the user. The jars had to be filled with water (20 - 30 gallons apiece) so they were a burden to the bearer. The water in them was then defiled after the cleansing and had to be taken away and disposed of. There was no joy in this action just a burdensome chore brought about by the action of sin in the world.
Then Christ comes on the scene and the cleansing He gives is no longer drudgery to the recipient. The purification process is no longer a temporary cleansing of the outward man but it is something that takes place inside the child of God and is eternal. The Spirit warms us and purifies us from the inside out and our cleansing brings joy. There is no need to dispose of the filth. It has been miraculously changed into new life by the hand of our Savior and Lord.
Notice something else in this passage. Christ could have just as easily spoken and the wine would have miraculously appeared but He chose to have the servants fill the jars with water which He then changed to wine. As servants of God we too have been called to work for Christ to bring the means of cleansing to the nations. Those who have been called to the marriage feast of the Lamb will partake of that cleansing and they will know a joy that is greater than any they had known before.
So bear the word of God to a lost and dying world and lift your voices in praise when the Savior changes your simple message of cleansing from sin into the joy-filled wine of salvation.