I have had the next couple lessons prepared for a long time, but delayed in posting them. I felt like they were lacking in life-altering revelation.
But as I sit here alone, peacefully enjoying the splendor of my beautiful Christmas tree, rocking out to my favorite Jennifer Knapp CD “Kansas,” praying for a speedy miraculous recovery for my mom, praising God for Mom’s continued stability and today’s joyous news of her ability to eat chicken broth, I am oh-so-subtly reminded that the holidays (Holy Days) are meant to remind us of all that God has done for us.
The Old Testament lists at least eight important Holy Days/Feasts/Celebrations:
Holy Feast Day
Feast of Unleavened Bread
Feast of First Fruits
Feast of Trumpets
Day of Atonement
Feast of Tabernacles
Each served to remind early followers of God’s amazing grace.
Christmas, whether you agree with the celebration or not, can serve to remind us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16)…He sent him as a humble baby in a barn to save my lost soul.
The Apostle John teaches in contrasts, like the Proverbs – “the way of the wicked is this; the way of a fool is like that.” He shows the effects of light and dark, life and death, love and hate, sin and righteousness. His contrasts are always connected – light is life, dark is death is sin.
The second book of John is not different. The contrast – joy and anger.
John 2 begins with a celebration; Jesus and his friends attend a wedding celebration in Cana (a town in Galilee). Probably, the wedding was of a relative of Jesus because Mary seemed to hold an important position at the feast. Not only did she feel responsible when wine ran out but she had the authority to order servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do (John 2:5.)
In verse 2 we see that Jesus was invited to the wedding. He was a human being. Some religions infer him to be the groom, because the wine would be the groom’s problem. I do not think that Jesus was ever married.
Wine symbolizes joy. (Note: wine in Jesus’ day was more watered down than the wine we are offered today.)
John calls Jesus’ actions signs rather than miracles. Each sign points to Jesus’ humanity and divinity.
Wedding festivities in Jewish culture last about a week. First there was a feast, then a ceremony. Guests led a processional to the couple’s home where they would celebrate for a week. Jesus saw to it that there was plentiful supply for all the festivities the custom required.
At the end of Chapter 1, Jesus referred to Himself as the “son of Man.” This indicates his care and concern for the simple daily matters that we all face. The first miracle John records, Jesus concerns himself with a humble family in a sudden emergency of daily living. He wants to help with the daily matters that cause shame, embarrassment, frustration, etc.
In verse 3, Mary simply stated the problem to Jesus. She did not give suggestions on how to best fix the problem. She did not take matters into her own hands. She stated the problem and trusted Jesus to fix it.
Mary’s words seem to imply a desire for so much more than a fix to this family’s social blunder. The disciples must have told her how they felt about Jesus - what she had felt in her gut for 30 years. Finally, the world could see his authority and power! “Go ahead, Son, show them who you really are!”
God, however, doesn’t move according to our will. He moves when He will get maximum glory.
Verse 4 - cordial “woman” address begins to separate his tie as her son - she needs to begin to see Him as her Lord. As Jesus’ three and a half year ministry starts, Mary must learn to separate the son of her womb who was obedient to her and the Son of God whom she must obey.
I read in one commentary that the phrase, “Why do you involve me?” was a common, courteous expression roughly translated, “I must settle this my own way.”
The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible, translates verse 4 very clearly. It reads, “Is that any of our business – yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.” Jesus was fully aware of God’s desire to receive maximum glory in every move Jesus made.
“Hour” will be repeated over and over and over in the book of John. (“Time” is used synonymously.) The “hour” is the point in time when his God-given purpose is revealed to the world. He has hundreds of prophecies that need to be fulfilled in God’s great timing. (Luke 24:44) So, rather than declare His amazing power and authority, He quietly turns water into wine. This miracle results in encouraged disciples and hopefully awakened faith in his relatives.
Mary seemed to completely understand that Jesus would take care of this family. In verse 5, she tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Do you live by this mantra? Do you believe you should do WHATEVER Jesus tells you? Even if it ostracizes you from your friends and family? Even if you might get in trouble with your employer?
Verse 6 describes the waterpots. They were 20 or 30 gallon pots used for washing – the water Jesus used to make wine for the wedding was not filtered or purified – it was used for washing! (Picture the Holy Water Stoup near the door of a Catholic Church. How many dirty fingers get into that water on a Sunday morning? And Jesus used it to make wine!)
From verse 7, we can realize that true servants of Jesus will have discernment in to the Lord’s plan. Obedience begins immediately. The servants waited expectantly for Jesus’ command and obeyed fully.
When we pray, we must then be open to God’s answer and immediately obey fully. True faith expects God to do something. God answers prayers His way; our job is obedience. The servants dared in faith to bring the headwater and pour wine.
We can exemplify these particular servants by being available and zealous (filled cups to the brim). There was not a committee meeting to call a vote. There was no discussion - they simply obeyed wholeheartedly. Faith must always be expressed in action.
A Side Note Regarding Drunkeness
Some use the story of the wedding in Cana to justify drunkenness. First of all, nowhere in John 2 does it say that anyone drank enough wine to become unable to control themselves. Second of all, just because an option is available does not mean it is profitable. As a “little Christ,” you are required to consider others in all things you do.
Though you have the freedom in Christ to do as you please, I recommend that you abstain from alcohol for a plethora of reasons:
1. Alcoholism is a social disease that affects nearly every person in our country (directly and/or indirectly). Each of us knows at least one alcoholic. Each of us has at least heard a story of a family torn apart by alcoholism. Christians who are concerned for the well-being of society should consider the welfare of others before their own pleasure. To blindly partake in the “drug” that ruins so many lives is to basically devalue the life that God breathed in to man.
2. New Christians, non-Christians and even weaker Christians are watching you. Partaking in the “social fun” of imbibing only encourages others who maybe have not yet decided if alcohol is acceptable in a “Christian” lifestyle. It is entirely possible that the new Christian who is watching you is only recently sober. Paul encourages us to abstain from activities that are available to us if it would “stumble a brother.”
3. When we are weakened by substance, the Holy Spirit within us is weaker also. If we are to be available servants, our minds need to be clear.
4. And finally, monies spent on liquor could be spent helping to change the world.
Jesus used ordinary people and six ordinary pots to accomplish this miracle. Numbers are significant in the Bible.
Six is the number of man and imperfection.
Seven is the number of completion.
Eight is the number of new beginnings.
Forty is typically expressed as a sufficient amount of time. (Forty days Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his ministry.)
In Exodus 7:19, we see that water was turned into blood symbolizing the Law that God told Moses to tell the people to follow.
In John 2, we see that water was turned into wine symbolizing joy.
Water, typically in the Bible, refers to the Word of God.
The servants dared in faith to bring the headwaiter water and pour wine. When was the water turned to wine? Would I have obeyed so diligently, zealously if water was still water when I handed it to the master of Ceremonies? Would I have trusted Jesus?
“You saved the best for last!”
“Best wine” symbolizes the new joy of the gospel Jesus came to bring into the common life. (Luke 5:38.)
Manifesting His power first at a wedding symbolizes that when he is given his rightful place in family life, blessings will follow. Often, blessing is in proportion to the obedience of faith.
With Jesus, the best always comes last. We receive blessings on Earth, but our reward is in Heaven.
This Christmas, make sure Jesus is given His rightful place in your celebrations.