Summary: Jesus changes the water into wine. Will you allow Him to change you?
Everybody loves weddings, don’t they? Weddings in Jesus’ day were a whole lot different than they are today. Many times today, marriage is looked at as optional or temporary or even a big joke. People meet over a weekend in the Smokies or Vegas and get married in a chapel the same weekend. At the same time more and more people are just living together instead of getting married. It certainly wasn’t that way in Jesus’ day. The first thing that was different, was that many of the marriages were arranged. The older I get, the more I think that wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. The fact that the marriages were arranged didn’t mean that the couple didn’t love each other. It meant that they grew to love each other. Just like couples learn to love each other today. Warm fuzzy feelings and sweaty palms isn’t love—it’s hormones. But sometimes, love can grow out of that. The problem comes when the hormones take over the relationship and are called love. Arranged marriages helped to prevent that. But it wasn’t like the couple was thrown in together as complete strangers. If they agreed with the arrangement, when they reached a certain age, they were betrothed to one another. Betrothal was like the opposite of shacking up. Today, couples live together so they can be sexually intimate with each other without having any of the responsibilities or commitments that go along with marriage. Betrothal meant that the couple had all of the responsibilities and commitments associated with marriage without the sexual intimacy. Sounds like a whole lot better test of true love than today’s way, doesn’t it? And betrothal was serious. It lasted for an entire year and the only way out of it was a divorce. But the fact is that most betrothals were successful. Just like most marriages were. We certainly can’t say that today. For the happy couple in our passage this morning, the time of betrothal was over. Now it was time to get on with the wedding. Most weddings today are over in a few hours, even if you include the reception. Weddings back then lasted up to seven days. The relatives and close friends of the bride and groom would have everything planned out. Either the parents of the bride or the groom or very close friends would act as the host. The reason that Mary is so concerned about the wine in this passage is that she was probably acting as one of the hosts. As such, she was one of the people responsible for all the details of the party, including the food and drinks. Sometime after all the plans were made and everything was in place, it was the time for the groom to make his move. Fully dressed in his finest robes and jewels, in the dark of night he would emerge from his home to go claim his bride. When he arrived at her house, the friend of the bridegroom would announce his presence and call the bride out. Then she would emerge from her house veiled and adorned like a queen. Although she didn’t know the exact time of her groom’s arrival, she was ready when he called. And when he called, she emerged. At that point, they were surrounded by friends, vows were exchanged, a formal document was signed, and they were officially married. But the party was just getting started. After a ritual washing of hands, the wedding feast began. A procession of family and friends would light the way with oil lamps and fill the air with music and singing and dancing. They escorted the bride and groom back to a canopy outside of his parent’s house. There, they presided over the feast which could last up to seven days. That’s when our passage happened—when the party was in full swing. That meant that it would have been a terrible time to run out of food and drinks. Today, if you run out of punch at a wedding reception, it’s really no big deal. Just pour some extra Sprite in the punch bowl and nobody really cares. But back then, it was a big deal. The best case scenario would be that the host would be scandalized forever by the people of the community. They might not even remember who the wedding was for, but they’d remember that Mary let the wine run out. And that was the best case scenario. The worst case would be that the wedding guests could sue the happy couple. There was a law that if the feast was a failure in any way, the guests could sue the groom for up to half the value of all the wedding presents. So this wasn’t a trivial thing. It was a big deal.