Summary: 4th in series on Jesus’ priorities. Jesus took the common, and took the customs, and used them for God’s glory.
John 2:1-11 – New Wine
I heard about an unfortunate event that happened some time ago at a wedding. A young couple, very much in love, were getting married. Sue, the wife to be, was very nervous about the big occasion and so the pastor chose one verse that he felt would be a great encouragement to them. The verse was 1 John 4:18, which says: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
Rather unwisely, the pastor asked the best man to read it out and to say that the pastor had felt that this was a very apt verse for Sue and that he would be preaching on it later in the service. The best man was not a regular churchgoer, so he didn’t know the difference between the Gospel of John and the first letter of John. As instructed, he introduced his reading by saying that the pastor felt this was a very apt verse for Sue. Instead of reading 1 John 4:18, he read John 4:18, which says, “You have five husbands and the one that you now have is not your husband.”
Today we are going to talk about another wedding fiasco. It was in the town of Cana, in the area known as Galilee, where Jesus performed His first miracle. And it’s a controversial one, but it still shows how Jesus is exactly what people are looking for. This isn’t just about knowing the truths of the Gospel; it’s about knowing Him. Let’s read John 2:1-11.
Now, before we look at what this does mean, let’s take a look at what this is NOT about. I do not want us to be distracted by the alcohol consumption here. This passage is not about drinking. The main point is not about getting drunk at weddings. Wine was used as the common drink because the water supply was not the best. Fermented drink was considered safer to drink. If you believe that 100% abstinence is the best, you’re probably right. But if you believe that Jesus wouldn’t go around the stuff, then you have a hard time proving it.
So, here’s the big picture. Jesus and His disciples were invited to a wedding, which presumably Mary, Jesus’ mother, was helping with. Weddings in those days were big deals. The celebrations lasted for days, and everyone in town was invited. And there was supposed to be plenty of wine, as provided by the groom. To run out was a serious violation of the social code, and could even result in bankruptcy if someone chose to take legal action. To run out of wine was not a small deal. It was a serious offense against the townsfolk.
And so Mary comes to her son, telling Him the problem. Even though He had never done a miracle, she knew full well that He was the Savior, the Messiah, the One sent from God, the Son of God. And what Jesus says in response is an odd reaction. First, He calls her “woman” instead of “mom”. Opinions to why He did this are varied. Perhaps, since He was moving from being a carpenter to being the Messiah, Mary would have to approach Him as her Savior, not as her son. Then again, He called many women the same. It is likely no term of disrespect.
And then, what He tells her is even more odd – v4. Now, I don’t know if she was asking Him to do a miracle. Maybe she was simply hoping that her son would do something to fix the problem. Either way, the words sound abrupt, even rude. But, the literal translation for his words is: “What to Me and to you?” Or, What is there common between my point of view and yours?” Jesus was asking his mother if she really understood His nature, His mission and His sacrifice. It was a clarification of motives.
He went on to say that His time had not yet come. Time for what? Obviously He didn’t mean that it wasn’t time for others to see what He could do. Maybe His point was that Mary could not understand Him. Maybe He wanted her to trust Him, even when He couldn’t understand Him. Maybe His point was, “Even if you can’t figure out what I’m doing, please trust me to do the right thing.”
Well, she did trust Him. Maybe she didn’t even expect Him to do anything, but she told the wedding attendants to listen to Him, if He did say something. Which He did. He told the servants to fill 6 large jars with water. Between 120 gallons to 180 gallons. About 100 liters. That’s a lot of water.
Then, the servants were told to scoop out some of this water, and in the process it turned to wine. The servants took this wine to the master of the banquet, who tried it. He said it was the best wine of the party so far. He couldn’t figure out why the best should be saved till the last, after everybody had had a fair amount already and their taste buds weren’t quite as discerning. The best was saved for the last.