Summary: Jewish wedding customs. First miracle of Jesus. Encounter with his mother, the master of ceremonies. family and friends of the wedding party. God's perfection and our sinfulness. Transformation.
MASTER OF THE WEDDING BANQUET
A traditional Jewish wedding is full of meaningful rituals, symbolizing the beauty of the relationship of husband and wife, as well as their obligations to each other and to the Jewish people.
The dawning wedding day heralds the happiest and holiest day in the lives of the couple. This day is considered a personal Yom Kippur for the chatan (Hebrew for groom) and kallah (bride), for on this day all their past mistakes are forgiven as they merge into a new, complete soul. Custom forbids the bride and groom from seeing each other in the week leading up to their wedding ceremony .
It is a time of deep religious significance as well as joyous celebration with family and friends. There are two distinct stages of the marriage ceremony; one is the sanctification or dedication or in biblical language – the betrothal and the other is the marriage. A Rabbi pronounces seven blessings on the couple … they recite their vows to each other and exchange rings … and then the audience shouts "Mazel tov!" ("Congratulations") and then it is a time of celebration and feasting .
It is in this time of celebration and feasting that we find our next encounter with Jesus in John 2:1-11 NLT; The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.
The importance of the marriage is seen in that it is the first recorded event in the public ministry of Christ. Marriage is under great attack today especially marriage as ordained by God. This should not surprise us for the world does not want to do anything God's way. God places a tremendous importance on the institution of marriage. This does not mean that you must be married. What it means is that if a man and woman want to live together, they need to be married.
Cohabitation or shacking-up has become popular in our society today, but even sociology confirms that the separation rate is even higher than divorce for married couples. Sex outside of marriage is not endorsed in Scripture. If you want to live with a person of the opposite sex you get married or you do not live with them. That is God's message and God's message is the one that should guide our life if we would live an honorable life .
In our text, I think it is interesting that Jesus was invited to the wedding – his reputation had preceded him. On occasion, I have been asked to perform wedding ceremonies for people I do not even know. They simply want a minister to perform the ceremony. But that is not how Christ was invited to this marriage. Christ was known before the marriage. Christ needs to be in wedding ceremonies and marriages today!
Marriage puts a lot of stress on the married couple. Without Christ, the stress will be too much and too many end up tragically in the divorce courts. This marriage ran into problems early (at the marriage feast) which Christ solved. If you have Christ in your marriage, you have a counselor for your marriage problems.
In Jewish custom, a wedding was not so much about the bride and groom – it was more about binding the community together. The bigger, the stronger, and the more numerous the families of a community, the better its economy, the greater the military security, the more everyone flourished .
Much of the emphasis today is placed on the bride and groom and the wedding and the reception.