As we approach the spring many couples will begin the joyous and often arduous task of planning the perfect wedding. Here in our Western culture, weddings are a huge affair centered on the bride and great care is usually taken to insure everything is just perfect on that special day. In the Middle East, weddings are an even bigger event but with one very notable exception; in the culture of Jesus day, the wedding was all about the bride-groom, not the bride! In the Middle East, especially in Jesus’ day, a wedding was a tremendous affair often lasting the whole week. It was an event to which the whole town would be invited and demonstrated the families place and prominence within their social collective. Hospitality and celebration was and remains a cornerstone of Middle Eastern culture.
As such, it is no surprise that Jesus begins His public ministry at just such a feast. In John chapter 2, often referred to as the wedding at Cana, we see Jesus’ first public miracle. Notice that the wedding takes place, “on the third day” (v1). Weddings are a new beginning, a covenant promise, and a joyous occasion to celebrate. This is the first foreshadowing in the Book of John of the resurrection of Jesus “on the third day” which will usher in a great new covenant and a reason for jubilant celebration. John begins his gospel by telling us that Jesus began His earthly ministry with a wedding Feast and closes the book of Revelation (ch 19) by reminding us that the end of all things will culminate in a wedding feast centered on the bride-groom— Jesus Christ. Jesus earthly ministry began and ends with a wedding feast, and His disciples are invited!
There are so many wonderful nuggets buried in this story. For example, notice in verses 6-8 John writes, “Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So, they took it.”
If you read the story carefully, you notice that these are servants of the one giving the feast, not followers of Jesus. They have a problem; they are out of wine. In this culture, running out of wine is a huge deal. This would be a huge source of shame and embarrassment for the family.
Eventually this Rabbi, Jesus, is brought into the situation to help. He tells the servants to fill several stone jars with water. Think about it for a minute. These are heavy jars, weighing between 200-300 pounds and there are six of them holding 120-180 gallons of water. There are no hose spigots on the side of the house and the water source is likely some distance away. And, oh-by-the-way, putting water in a jar isn’t how you make wine in the first-place! The servants surly must have thought, “What does this rabbi know anyway…stick to your books college boy!”
But despite the obstacles, the difficulty of the task, and the seeming futility of the assignment, John writes that the servants, “filled them to the brim.” You can’t get any more full than that! The servants went all-in to the task and did it to the best of their ability even though the solution Jesus gave them made no earthly sense. And these servants weren’t even followers of Jesus! Jesus’ instructions defied human wisdom and seemingly would not produce wine. It was not easy or convenient, but the servants did as they were instructed and they did it with all of their ability.
Their reward? They got to witness Jesus first public miracle, one of the greatest miracles of all time, and they got to taste the best wine at the feast (this may have evoked thoughts of Ps 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”). In verse 9 John tells us that no one knew where the best wine had come from…”but the servants knew.” Being directly involved in the work of the Lord produces and amazing reward; we get to see God at work and experience firsthand His amazing wonders. The servants “knew” because they were directly involved in the work of the Lord. God may be asking you to do something that doesn’t make sense right now, or may not seem to answer your exact prayer, but if you go all-in to the task you will find that obedience always produces blessing.
- How do you respond when God calls you to do something that doesn’t make earthly sense?
- Do you respond like Gideon in Judges 6:11-7:15 -or- Like the servants in John 2?
- How do you, as a Jesus follower, react when He gives you instructions that do not seem to answer your exact need or prayer?
- Are you spending enough time with Him to get your instructions?
- Do you go all-in to the task with expectation, or go begrudgingly with doubt?
- There are so many other wonderful truths buried in this passage. Grab a commentary or listen to someone teach on this passage and dig in! Commentaries and Podcasts are great way to build Bible understanding and be encouraged to live a more authentic life in Christ. Below are two links to try if you aren’t sure where to start.
- Written Commentary on John 2:
Matthew Henry is a great commentator. While his English can be a bit cumbersome, he is very thorough.
- Audio Podcast of John 2:
Rich Chafin is a great Bible teacher and easily relatable.
- Written Commentary on John 2:
- Share with me: What are your favorite Podcasts and Commentaries? Who are your go to sources for Bible knowledge and encouragement?