It was Tuesday, a good day for Jesus to be in Cana. It was probably autumn. The harvest would most likely have been completed so that the people’s hearts and minds could at long last be at peace. And, it was a Tuesday - glorious Tuesday, a most common day for weddings as it gave the guests time to make the preparations needed after the Sabbath, and travel by foot, camel or mule, to the location of the wedding. And then have 4 more days to celebrate before the Sabbath rolled around again. And Jesus, His disciples, His mother, possibly his family, had probably walked at least 6 kilometres to get to this very special wedding, all dressed up in their wedding clothes.
The groom, after a long betrothal, had gone around midnight to get his bride, dressed so splendidly with a crown on his head. And what a procession it was! They brought the bride out in a litter and in a procession. She, likewise, was dressed so beautifully, and the songs were so beautiful, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and incense made from all the spices of the merchant?”. Attended by her 10 bridesmaids, they girls gave the ceremonial shouts of joy letting all the village know that the wedding had begun. And so, the guests rushed to join the procession of mules and men, bride and bride attendants, as they carried her belongings and house decor into the special house or rooms that the bridegroom had prepared for her and the family that was to come.
Oh, how they’d hurry and scurry from then on as the guests scrambled to join the procession! The bridegroom would be the last one to enter the house and after that, well, the door was locked and no one else was allowed in! And so, the festivities begin!
Once the procession reached the bridegrooms home, his parents gave their traditional blessing to the couple which they drew from the holy scriptures, and some other sources. After the prayers, the bridegroom would join the evening’s festivities while the bride would go into the room reserved for her with her attendants. After decorating a bit, setting up house so to speak, they would eat their meals separate from the men and a drowsiness would settle over the festivities until the next evening when the vows were spoken. The bride would then sit under a canopy surrounded by her attendants, again beautifully dressed, but this time in white, and heavily veiled, Songs and blessings would be spoken over her and gifts given, until at last the bridegroom would come in.
The wedding dialogue would go something like this: The bride says, Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love you! Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers (Song 1:2-4).
And the groom responds, Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me. My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely (Song 2:13-14).
Now that the couple was together, all the other men and women also came together, and the real feasting began. At some point during this evening the bride and groom would indeed vanish into the chamber prepared for them while the festivities went on for several more days. The couple would remain with the guests however for the remainder of the time, sharing in the feast, merriment, the songs and games and the dancing under the star-lit sky.
Now maybe it was one of Jesus brother’s or sisters, or perhaps a cousin — it was someone close. For Mary, his mother, was right in there, helping with the details instead of leaving it to the servants as another guest would. It seemed she was a co-host of some sort, either by responsibility or relationship. In any case, at this particular wedding, early in on the festivities, the wine was gone! Each guest had probably had two or three glasses already, and so were satiated. But what were they going to do the rest of the time?
This would be an embarrassment to the young couple and their families and seen as a type of bad omen. It could reflect very badly on them indeed. Whether it would be viewed as the result of poor planning or a poor harvest we do not know. Perhaps the people would have speculated that something unchaste had happened, thus a hurried betrothal period. Or maybe somebody dropped the ball and invited too many guests! All we know for sure is that it would have been a breach in hospitality, and although it was customary to serve the new, tastiest wine first, and the less tasty or old wine last, it was not customary to just serve water!
Mary, who knew her son at that time better than anyone, immediately goes to Jesus for help. She is not willing for this family to be humiliated, for there to be even one dark cloud over this special couple and their families and their very special event. So, she suggests to Jesus that He do something. She doesn’t tell him what to do, but she probably gives him that special look that only a mother can give to her child.
From the Greek the translation Jesus response would have gone something like this, “Dear One, what does that have in common with us?” This was a well-known Aramaic saying. In other words, this is not my problem! And it’s not going to do me any favours to do this either, for this simply isn’t the right time for my kingdom and power to be unveiled.
This is consistent with what we know of Jesus. All through the Scripture, Jesus tried rather unsuccessfully to keep His power hidden. Why would He do that?
1. It meant his life would no longer be private.......He would be a modern version of a pop star or of royalty in the eyes of the people who would become like his paparazzi. He would not be able to come and go as freely and anonymously as would suit Him.
2. It could mean a sidetrack of his mission which was to proclaim the kingdom of God but also to DIE. Jesus never shrank bank from that purpose by hiding behind His miracles. He never allowed the people to set him up as a king......the cross was first.
To step in and rescue this situation would seemingly conflict with Jesus agenda. It would at the very least be a huge inconvenience for Jesus. Mary would not have understood this like Jesus, for she did not yet grasp the big picture of what Jesus coming meant, at least not like he did. She may have known what she was asking, not really.
So, Mary, the one we know of as so submissive and devoted to God, who has already suffered for her obedience, who has such a deep relationship with Jesus and knows him like no other has, or ever will, simply turns her eyes and looks at Jesus. And full of faith that He’s gonna do something - she doesn’t know what although I’m sure she had an idea of how she would like it to go - she says confidently, “Do whatever He asks you to do”.
Now granted, she was his mother, and perhaps she was exercising her authority as a mom in this situation. Something was going on between these two. A mutual submission. She didn’t place demands on Him the way some moms would at a wedding, barking orders, borderline hysterical (interesting to note that “ran out of” is the Greek word, hysteresantos, but she placed a demand on him, nonetheless).
And Jesus, looking into those eyes that had loved and somewhat understood him from birth, could not resist her. Now Jesus wasn’t a pushover who couldn’t say no to Mary. There are at least two other places in Scripture where we see Jesus in conflict with his mom. One was at the tender age of 12 when he stayed behind in Jerusalem to teach in the temple, “about my Father’s business”, and later when His mother and brothers came to fetch Jesus from His ministry thinking he was out of his mind.
No, Jesus knew who He was, what He was about, and He wasn’t afraid to get into conflict with even His family members if what they were asking of him was in conflict with his mission.
Yet in this instance, Jesus weighs the pros and cons. He knows this is going to create difficulties for Him. Yet somehow between His inner dialogue with the heavenly Father and that look that Mary gave him, he decides to go ahead and honour her request, and He performs a miracle so extraordinary, that it truly proves Him to be on par with the Creator. Essentially, Jesus creates something out of nothing. In the beginning there was water and rock. Here, we see water and rock, these were not clay pots but made of stone. There is nothing in the water or the rock to cause fermentation, no plant life, no sugar. And Jesus instantly creates something that could only happen with living organisms present from a plant.
If you are into symbolism, there’s some great symbolism here. On day 3 of creation, when God had made the plant life, he finally says, “that’s good”. On the third day of the Passion, Jesus would be Resurrected.
Jesus puts the wine into ceremonial bins - each of which would have held about 250 pounds of water. He doesn’t put it into something unclean, but something set apart. Wine can speak of the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from sin, but
in this case, it would seem like the wine symbolizes His Spirit. The number of 6 is the number of man. Thus, the Spirit goes into the man, and there is a need for man to be continuously filled with the Spirit. To be filled continuously means there is a need for us to live set apart lives, blessed are the poor for they shall see God. And best of all, the best wine is saved for last, which is reminiscent of the prophet Joel’s words, “in the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” Acts 2:7.
Partnership and Response
But perhaps what impacted me the most, is that Jesus performed His first known miracle as a response, not as something He initiated. Our mission statement is to “Apprehend God’s heart and fulfill His dreams”. This is all about leaning in close to the heart of God to hear what His dream is for our lives, our families, our communities, church, nation, the world. It’s about getting His strategy for the part we play in that dream and then moving forward in obedience to walk it out. This could very well be the posture of a servant.
But, His first miracle, it is not God initiated idea, it is human initiated.
It’s interesting to me that in Ephesians 5, we see the type of relationship God wanted to use as model to the church. In the OT it is often father and child relationship emphasis that we get. And that model is definitely carried into the NT as Jesus comes to reconcile us to the Father. Paul talks about our relationship with the Father as being that of Abba or Daddy. But there’s a different relationship that Jesus seems to want with us - that is the relationship of a bride.
In biblical times, an arranged marriage didn’t require the bride and groom to be in love. And so, Paul writes.... husbands LOVE your wives and to serve her. And the poor wife who is given as property to the groom is told to respect and submit (not love) her husband. What we see here is a mutual, reciprocal thing happening, with the greater responsibility put on the male to lay down his life for his wife daily. To love such a man would not be hard! But Jesus is looking for that relationship - a reciprocal relationship not based on authority, but based on a mutual submission - for what is serving but also submission?
This is incredible, because all the sudden it is a partnership that Jesus is looking for. A mature bride - no longer a child to be bossed around and just told what to do. Instead, it is a couple, helping one another, finding out the other’s dream and getting in line to help. And the wife just doesn’t do it for the husband. The husband goes above and beyond and serves her like Jesus did when he washed the disciple’s feet, when he died on the cross.
It would seem that Mary and Jesus had already crossed over into this type of mutual submission, for again, she is not the picture of a controlling mom, but is very respectful of Jesus and His process.
And so, Jesus, responding rather than initiating, essentially repeats, on a small scale, the miracle of creation, and turns water into wine.
(Just so you know, although there is some discussion of whether or not the wine was alcoholic, the alcoholic content would not have been like that of strong drink - think whiskey, etc., because the ingredients would not have been at an ancient person’s disposal. Also, in that time period, the Greeks diluted their wine with water because it tasted better - again, the fermentation process was different. I only bring this up to say that Jesus didn’t make wine to make people drunk. He made wine to keep the party merry for a 4 - 7-day feast and evidently there were very many guests, perhaps more than had been planned for. The word methua means to have drank freely or to have had enough to be satisfied. Jesus would not have been inconsistent with His character and the word of God in the matter of drunkenness.... but He did give people the choice of behaving responsibly or not - which is also consistent with His character. The point of the story is that Jesus cared enough about Mary, who cared about the host and the bride and groom, to provide something lacking, rescuing them from a potentially socially damaging situation.)
Isn’t it interesting that sometimes it’s our lack, our mistakes that serve as an invitation for God to act and do something beautiful? If you’ve ever felt ashamed for something that created a mess, today is your day! You can invite God in to create something from nothing!
Dreams in Courts of Praise Practically speaking, what have been some of the God dreams of COP? Stephen’s Backpacks Women’s Retreat Story Club Men’s Breakfasts and Retreats Relationships Worship - songs, movement, extended times Multiethnic groups
What are some of the new dreams on God’s heart for 2019?
Examples of Man initiating
Two Restaurant Encounters
1. Today Jesus is inviting us to live a set apart life unto Him. He wants to fill us with His Spirit continually. And so, He is asking us to live in ways that do not grieve the Spirit, but that cause that beautiful dove to want to sit upon our shoulders.
2. Jesus is looking for partnership. He doesn’t just want us to apprehend His heart, He wants to apprehend your heart. Ps 37:4 Says delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”. The word delight is anon which means to be soft, delicate and dainty. It reminds me of the Scripture, “turn your eyes away. Desires is mishalah which means your requests, petitions. Heart is leb which means the inner man.
3. Jesus is so smitten with us, that when we give him that look, the look of a twitterpaited lover who has developed a relationship of trust and mutual love and respect and daintiness - guarding and protecting each other’s hearts and desires, He longs to do it, and even if it’s in a bit of conflict (notice bit of, something that may inconvenience greatly but not thwart) with his own interests, He will do it! And He’s longing for those kinds of relationships!
It’s not about our dreams and desires. It’s about His desire for us, and our desire for Him. And out of that daintiness, that desire to serve one another, like the married couple, Jesus wanted to use as a prototype, God’s dreams and our dreams come into alignment with each other.
By Pastor Becky Thomas