1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
The purpose of the sermon is to open the hearts and minds of the hearers to the beauty and truth of God’s Holy Word; and to point out the direct meaning to us today – without change.
Our Gospel text opens with the phrase, “And the third day….” This was the third day from the calling of the first disciples, among them Nathaniel was the last. Jesus revealed to Nathaniel His foreknowledge of Nathaniel even while he was yet a baby. This private revelation convinced Nathaniel, beyond any doubt, that our Lord Jesus Christ was the Messiah. Our Lord still opens the eyes of the sinner to private callings though never in conflict with Holy Scripture. The silent urgings of the Holy Ghost in the heart the chosen vessel is an overwhelming evidence of God’s calling and election. But there are other signs and miracles that are designed to show a broader evidence in general of the Lord’s power and identity. That is the purpose of the first miracle which our Lord wrought at Cana of Galilee. It is designed to punctuate the high regard and esteem in which God the Father holds His first Institution which He made in Eden between one man and one woman. God regards the marriage bond in the same sense as the bond existing between His only Begotten son and the Church. It is for this reason that biblical marriage between one man and one woman is of such profound importance in the eyes of God.
It is noteworthy that Jesus and His disciples were invited to the Marriage Feast as the starting point of His earthly ministry. It is, as well, worth noting that this is His first miracle in the eyes of men. The mother of Jesus, Mary, was also present. But I stress – if Jesus is not invited as the central party of any marriage, it is merely a manmade arrangement. A government issued license does not constitute a biblical marriage – it must be God-centered.
In the eastern countries, and in Asia today, the marriage ceremony is viewed as a measure of the quality and character of the two families engaged in the union. All things must be made as perfect as possible to avoid derision and even bad report. Food must be plentiful, attire must be formal and suitable, and the libations must be abundant. Else, the wedding arrangement begins on a bad footing that is almost superstitious for future promise.
This wedding took place not very far from Nazareth at Cana – perhaps five to seven miles distance. Like most caring mothers, Mary was worried at the prospect of the wine running out. In fact, the wine had already expired and Mary made our Lord aware of the deficiency. “They have no wine!” Note that Mary did not suggest any manner of satisfying the need. She knew her Son well enough to know that He would be able to remedy the want of wine whether by some common method or by the power of His might. When we plead in our prayers for the remedy of our problems we should simply state our great need to the Lord and not the means whereby we want Him to satisfy that need.
What was our Lord’s response to Mary’s entreaty? It was respectful and firm. “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” The term ‘woman’ as we all know was an honorific in those days. Jesus responded with parental respect; however, honoring our parents does not necessitate complete obedience forever, especially when God has called us to a High calling. Jesus was making clear to His mother that His time of raising and subjection under her roof must take a backseat to His obedience to His Father in Heaven. It is true of every son or daughter today, as well.
Mary did not even respond to the Independence of her Son but simply told the servant staff, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” She had perfect confidence that Jesus would not allow the friends and neighbors of the Marriage Feast to be humiliated.
There were, on hand at the residence, six jars which were used for ritual cleansing of the Jews. These each could contain up to seven gallons of water. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water.” He commanded that they be FILLED. Why? So that all present could see that there was no possibility of the jars containing a full measure, or any measure, of wine before the miracle. The servants, amazingly, did not question His motive in filling the jars – they simply obeyed without delay. This is one of the greatest problems of Christians today and of all times – unquestioning obedience to God. “And they filled them up to the brim.” No room for doubt.
One point: this was not grape juice that the Lord was transforming from water, but germinated fruit of the vine. “Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.” Once more, immediate obedience. The servants are often privy to greater knowledge and understanding than the honored guests and masters of ceremonies. In this case, they saw and knew what Jesus had done, but the master of ceremonies was in the blind of the event.
In the Bible, fermented wine is a symbol of joy. It warms the heart and makes merry when consumed in moderation. “When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” It is true that the world serves an apparition of the best wine first, and then, with poisoned taste to detect the difference, the worse wine of life is served up. I my case, God has saved the best wine of my life for last. I can truly say that I am happier now than I have ever before been with Christ as my Rock and Fortress. Beethoven’s most memorable symphony was his last and at a time when his health had completely broken and he had lost his hearing – a great tragedy for a musician. But his 9th Symphony, most famous for the 5th movement (Ode to Joy) was Beethoven’s very best. God saved the best wine of Beethoven’s life for last. He will do so for all of faith.
Please consider the import of today’s text and miracle. “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” Jesus made this His first miracle with amazing intention. In Genesis 1, God created the Heavens and the earth and all that in them is – in Genesis 2, God established Marriage =between the man and the woman (Adam & Eve) as His first institution. That institution prefigured the second which was the marriage existing between Christ and His Church. The first is supposed to reflect, in earthly character, the second. Any corruption of that institution of marriage is a perversion which God calls an ‘ABOMINATION.” (see Leviticus 18:22 & Romans 1:24-32, et al)
This first miracle was a seal of identity of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom of His Bride – the Church. It was a manifestation of His power over the physical laws of Nature and His glory above all others.
There is coming another Marriage Feast to which the elect are invited beyond the Gates of Splendor. All provision has been made of the nature needful for the most opulent feast ever at the great cost of the Divine blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. As is the eastern custom, He has also purchased a marriage garment for us – the White Robe of Righteousness – which He sealed at Calvary. It covers our filth and nakedness just as the father’s best robe covered that of his prodigal son. Be sure you are not made ashamed by appearing without that wedding garment and being cast out at the last moment.