Summary: Understanding the Scriptures, one can see the wealth of evidence which would render strong drink and intoxicating beverages as inappropriate for use by believers – use for drunkenness or simple social consumption.
In this passage we can find that Mary evidently was a friend or even a relative of those in the wedding party and took a principle part in the preparation of the wedding feast. Jesus and the disciples were invited. Whether the family was poor and had not enough refreshments, or whether there was simply an improper planning for the provisions of the feast, we are not told. Nonetheless, Scripture is clear that all of the wine procured for the feast was used and there was none left for the guests.
It appears obvious by Jesus’ response to His mother, that Mary wanted Him to perform a miracle. When Mary spoke, “They have no wine.” Christ’s response clearly shows that she was speaking it to Him, and His response leaves no doubt that her intentions were for Him to supernaturally produce wine for the guests. For Him to do so would lift the cloud of thirty years of suspicion of infidelity and finally validate her claim that her Son was conceived of the Holy Ghost and that she truly was a virgin at His birth.
The Bible provides evidence that rumors had abounded about Jesus and His mother. In Psalm 69, a Messianic Psalm, we are told, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.” From this we can understand that suspicion existed in His family (His “mother’s children), and He was the laughing stock of many in Nazareth. In Mary’s mind, to perform the miracle of “winemaking” would finally squash all of the lies surrounding His birth.
Although He did perform the miracle, He did not do it to clear His mother’s name. The cross and the resurrection did that. In Romans 1:4, the Apostle Paul states that Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” So, with the understanding that Jesus did not perform this miracle for personal acquittal, why then did He perform the miracle?
In verse 6, we find six stone waterpots which the Bible contends contained “two or three firkins apiece.” A firkin is simply a measurement for liquids used during that time. The word is translated from the Greek (metretes) meaning “a measurer.” In this case, as Matthew Henry writes, “the quantity is uncertain, but very considerable.” Certainly, the Holy Spirit who moved upon John to write this account knew exactly the volume capacity each could contain, yet He chose to state “two or three.”
These six waterpots were placed there for ceremonial cleansing of the Levitical ritual. Through this, God was teaching that those who come to Him must be clean and cleansed by Him. In the Old Testament, we know that the priests who served were required to first cleanse themselves at the brazen laver before they could serve. We understand as New Testament believers (“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father…” – Rev. 1:6) that we also must be clean before we are rendered fit for God’s service. Note: We will later refer back to the reference of New Testament believers as priests when speaking of believers and alcohol.
With these waterpots, God was simply teaching that those who come into His presence must have the matter of sin adequately taken care of. This speaks of the cleansing of the heart and life, and this ritual had been handed down in Israel for centuries. This principle was so important that waterpots were even in the homes of the Israelites.
I find it interesting that God chose not to include the mentioning of the bride. There is no mention of what she wore. There is not mention of the ceremony other than to say that there was a marriage. Furthermore, we cannot determine fully from this account whether she attended the feast. What is mentioned are the six waterpots. It is here where Jesus focuses on them, and they appear to be the most important part of the story.
First, we must understand that the waterpots represent humanity. Stone is often representative of humanity or its condition. In Ezekiel, God speaks of exchanging Israel’s “stony heart” and replacing it with a softer one. In the parable of the sower, Jesus informs us that the spiritual conditions of many can be likened to ground that is stony and very inhospitable to seed. By looking at their characteristics, it is easy to see how these waterpots symbolize lost humanity.