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“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there . . . “ (John 2:1-22)
The ministry of Jesus begins at a wedding celebration in John and will climax in Revelation with the another wedding celebration––the marriage of the Lamb and his Bride (Rev. 19:6-8). And so, Jesus begins making preparations for the future wedding and starts with the transformation of water into a lot of wine. The Bride in Revelation is described as being pure so Jesus sees to her purification as well. Jesus, as the Lamb of God, goes to the temple on Passover and foreshadows his own death. Jesus gives a taste of the celebration at the future wedding that will come through those purified by his new temple.
A Wedding without Wine (vs. 1-5)
The days continue to be eventful in the first week of Jesus’ ministry in John. On the first day, John identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God. The next day, Jesus rallies his first disciples. And now, there’s a wedding celebration in the town of Cana of Galilee. Perhaps Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael, James and John were already on the wedding invite list, or maybe they were the last minute invites who showed up at the party with Jesus. The inevitable happens when the wine runs out. Mary realizes the looking embarrassment for the groom as well as the end of the festivity and scrambles to find a solution, “They have no more wine.”
Empty Purification Jars (vs. 6-8)
John states that “there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons” (vs. 6). These jars have a specific function––used for the Jewish rites of purification. Mark further explains their purpose when the Pharisees ragged on Jesus’ disciples for not washing their hands in Mark 7:3-4. But this washing goes beyond good hygiene with the intention to cleanse the inside as well as the outside of a person. The water pots are empty and Jesus instructs the servants to fill them up––and they are filled to the brim, between 120-180 gallons total.
The Good Wine until Now (vs. 9-11)
The master of the feast sips the water made wine and his eyes light up and the cockles of his heart are warmed, “Where did this come from?” The master calls the bridegroom and relays the party proverb, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” This would have been good news for the wedding celebration. We have a bathtub of wine, the best wine! The wine would have been drunk and thoroughly enjoyed. But that wasn’t the only result––glory manifested and discipled believed. This should return us to Jesus’ purpose, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And from his fulness, we have all received grace upon grace” (Jn. 1:14-17). Water to wine filled up to the brim is grace upon grace.
The Lamb of God at Passover (vs. 13)
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand…” (vs. 13). Passover was the annual feast that memorialized the Lord’s deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. In Exodus 11 and 12, the Lord tells Moses of the final and awful tenth plague against Egypt––the death sentence of all the male first born sons. But the LORD provides protection for the people of Israel. Each family should take a male lamb without blemish and kill the pure lamb. They are to smear the lamb’s blood on the wooden doorframe of the home and the LORD will pass over because of the blood (Ex. 12:5-13). The Passover of the Jews was at hand and so the Lamb of God makes his way to the temple altar and prophecies his destruction.
Clearing my Father’s House (vs. 14-17)
Jesus enters the temple which looks like the county fair had come into the sanctuary––buying and selling animals, exchanging money. Jesus turns a whip against the animal sellers and their animals and herds them out of the temple. “Take these away! Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (vs. 16) In all the pandemonium of baa-ing sheep and irate bearded men and little kids pocketing scattered joins, Jesus says two profound things in a simple phrase––my Father’s house. God is “my Father” (and so Jesus is his Son), and the temple is the Father’s house (and so the Son lives there and has the right to kick out the salesmen).
Temple Raised in Three Days (vs. 18-22)
Jesus delivers a challenge to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus again manifests his glory by pointing to the future sign of how his own death, his own blood, will be the final, decisive, ultimate purification for sins. It’s not through the sacrifice of a lamb or a ox or a pigeon in the temple. It’s certainly not through commercial profit around the temple. But it’s through Jesus death and resurrection. 1 John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son purifies us from all sin.” The wedding feast is prepared in the Father’s house. The Lamb has purified his Bride. Grace, like the wine, is abundant. And so come.