THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE #8

With Dale Ratzlaff

 

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him (John 2:1-11).

The facts of this account are straightforward. However, behind them, we may infer a number of things. The fact that Jesus’ mother was there expressing her concern about the shortage of wine may indicate that this was a wedding of friends or relatives. Mary may have been one who was asked to help with the ceremony. The shortage of wine may indicate that the couple was poor and unable to spend the needed money for the celebration. In those days a shortage of wine at a wedding feast that often lasted for several days was considered almost as an insult to the invited guests.

There is no given reason why Mary went to Jesus with her announcement that the wine had run out other than the suggestion that she knew Jesus was a resourceful son. The fact that Joseph is not mentioned may indicate that he had died previous to this event.

In response to Mary’s announcement, Jesus answered, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” To us this response sounds abrupt and uncaring. However, from what I could find, it simply means, “It really does not involve us.” Some see in this statement a hint that Jesus is showing His mother that their relationship has changed. He is no longer controlled by her wishes; He is on a path leading to the cross, and that journey cannot be interrupted (see Lenski, p. 189).

Jesus added, “My hour has not yet come.” This is a repeated statement in John.

So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come (Jn. 7:30).

These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come (Jn. 8:20).

To what hour did Jesus look forward?

Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour”? But for this purpose I came to this hour (Jn. 12:27).

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You (Jn. 17:1).

These verses tell us two important things. First, nothing can hinder God’s purpose. His timing cannot be hastened or delayed. Second, the main purpose of Jesus was to die for the sins of the world. That “hour” was when He said, “It is finished” and bowed his head and gave up His human spirit.

How much Mary knew about the timing of the life and work of Jesus, we do not know; however, she must have known that Jesus would not dismiss her concern, so she said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” This was not only good advice for the servants that day, but it is a teaching moment for us as well. “Whatever He says to you, do it”.

The six large water pots were there for the Jewish custom of purification which probably would include both washing of the feet and also washing of the hands before meals. It is estimated that together these held about 180 gallons. Apparently they were either empty or at least not all the way full for Jesus said, “Fill the waterpots with water” and they filled them to the brim. The fact that the record states they were filled to the “brim” may be included so we might know the full extent of the miracle.

And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

There is an interesting pattern in the miraculous events recorded in Scripture. Often people are asked to do something that is, from the human point of view, illogical. For example, in 2 Kings 4 we have the story of the widow who was in debt and had nothing in the house except a bottle of oil. Elisha told her children to gather many vessels. No reason was given, but they obeyed and when the widow poured the oil from her little vessel into all the others, it never ran out and she sold the excess and paid off her debt. When we get to John 9 we will read how Jesus made clay and put it on the eyes of a man born blind and then told him to go and wash in the Pool of Salome. He did and was instantly healed.

Here the servants were told to take the water and give it to the headwaiter. When did the water become wine? The miracle probably happened as the servants obeyed the word of Jesus.

It is insightful that Jesus made the “best wine”. This is the first miracle recorded in John. Some find significance in that at the beginning of His ministry Jesus provided the “best wine” to the wedding party, including His disciples. However, at the end of His ministry when He was suffering on the cross they gave Him “sour wine”.

A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit (Jn. 19:29-30).

One hundred and eighty gallons of wine were worth quite a bit of money. Good wine today runs about $10-$20 a bottle. The “best” wine I am told runs from $20-$50 or even higher. According to Google, Super Luxury Wine Costs between $100–$200 a bottle There are about 5 bottles to the gallon. Therefore 180 gallons of wine would equal about 900 bottles @ $100.00 each means that the newlyweds were given about $90,000 worth of wine. Not a bad wedding gift! It can be safely assumed that no one would throw away such a miraculous gift of the “best wine”. When Carolyn and I were married, we ended up with a large amount of Hawaiian Punch concentrate. There was not much monetary value to it, but in the months to come it provided a nice drink whenever we had friends over.

This event ends with John’s comment,

This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

As we mentioned in previous studies, John presents evidence to believe in two main ways: testimony and signs. In chapter 1 we were given the testimony of John the Baptist.

“I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (Jn. 1:34).

Now, in Chapter 2 we have the first of the signs.

This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

Both of these resulted in belief. It was John’s testimony that caused John and Andrew to follow Jesus. They concluded among other things that Jesus was the Messiah and the King of Israel. In Chapter 2 we see that His disciples believed in Him. In these early chapters of John the nature of their belief and the evidence underlying their faith may be somewhat nebulous. However, one thing stands out. They believed in the person of Jesus that he was the Messiah, the Son of God. John in no way disparages their simple belief. At this early stage in the Gospel record, there certainly is no evidence that their faith was connected to Christ’s death, burial or resurrection as formulated by the Apostolic church (1 Cor. 15:1-8).

John does not include many of the background details of this miraculous event that would be interesting to us. These might be distracting to his overall goal. His has a laser-like focus showing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and belief in His name brings eternal life.

 

Application

This event tells us of the good nature of God. He cares for common people and their anxious situations and troubles. It teaches us that obedience to the word of Christ is important, even though sometimes it may not seem so to us. Another lesson we can take away from this incident is that when all else fails, we can take our burdens to Christ. Once we have done that, as well as doing what the word of God says, we can trust that God is working all things together for our good. This miraculous event served as a sign upon which to base belief. Occasionally, we may encounter what we believe to be “a God thing”. These events my help us in our walk with Christ. However, caution is appropriate here as we have the word of Christ in Scripture and that should be our main compass directing our lives.

 

Prayer

Father, thank you for giving the evidence upon which to build an intelligent faith. Thank you that you are there when things go wrong, when I am filled with anxiety not knowing exactly what I should do. May I, like the servants in this story, obey the word of Christ even when to do so does not make good logic. May I trust in your infinite knowledge, knowing that you are working all things together for my good.

In Jesus name.

DaleRatzlaff
DaleRatzlaff

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