A Precursor to The Marriage Feast of the Lamb.
John 2: 1 – 11.
It is intriguing that our Lord Jesus’ first miracle has nothing to do with healing a soul or raising the dead, or perhaps subduing the elements, but was at a wedding feast facing a catering fiasco. Although no miracle can be said to be ordinary, changing water into choice wine seemed counter-intuitive. However, this is not to discount the importance of a feat of this nature in a close-knit rural community. Usually these traditional celebrations are large and important affairs, lasting several days, and free-flowing wine is expected throughout the festivities. To run out of it prematurely would be disastrous and a disgrace to the host. Mary, Jesus’ mother, discovered the shortfall and spoke quietly with her Son, and although there was some hesitation initially, He stepped into the gap and saved His friend a whole lot of embarrassment. However, did His initial retort to His mother indicate that He was on a different wavelength at the time? (Jn 2:4). Perhaps, there is much more going on here, on a closer reading of the narrative.
It is insightful that Mary was absolutely confident that her Son was capable of pulling off a miracle (Jn 2:5), even though very little is said in Scripture about Jesus’ growing up years and His out-of-this-world’s prowess. Rather than using the many wine jars sitting around empty, Jesus chose to have six ceremonial purification jars (about 150 gallons in total) refilled with water. Was this a symbolic outcome of what He had been contemplating on earlier? Within the delightful context of the ongoing nuptial revelry, Jesus would likely be thinking about the future marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:7-10; cf., Jn 3:27-30). ‘The hour’ that has not yet come addresses the context of His own death that would precede it; where the wine in Biblical setting represents the Lamb’s blood (1 Cor 10:16; Is 61:10; Jn 6:53-55; 1 Cor 11:23-32; cf., Eph 5:25-27). He changed the water into wine, and in the process elevated the groom’s esteem for the quality wine now being served. And not unlike the new life in Christ that we possess, everything pertaining to it had been accomplished on our behalf through His death and resurrection, and nothing more can be added to what our Saviour had achieved because He loves us (Rom 5:12-21). He is definitively the Lord of Life and of the Feast (cf., Lev 17:11). John, who was possibly at the banquet, and the only writer of the four Gospels to mention this incident, did not explain further, but just said that this miracle was to manifest His glory and to reveal Himself to His disciples (Jn 2:2-4, 11).
At Cana of Galilee, almost anonymously (Jn 2:8-10), we catch a glimpse of the gracious largesse of our Saviour, as He demonstrated His glorious identity as the almighty Lord through this first public miracle, in the simplicity of meeting down-to-earth needs, and inadvertently, revealing His power to the disciples who were with Him at the feast. Was John, the author of the Book of Revelation, the only one who understood, in hindsight, the symbolism of the archetypal Bridegroom of the Church, lovingly embracing life as celebrative of God’s love for the lost at this banquet?