Big weddings just aren’t my thing. I don’t understand all the headaches and scrutiny and stress and how things like the subtle nuance between “powdered snow” and “creamy white” can make all the difference when choosing table linens. I mean, honestly, in the grand scheme of things, does it truly matter if the reception centerpieces have three floating candles versus five? Or whether the bridesmaids all maintain their size-six (oh wait, what am I saying? Size two!) figures so the pictures maintain symmetry? Shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Bridezillas” confound me.
I was a simple bride with a VERY simple wedding. We had fifteen people in attendance and that included the pastor. I wanted the wedding to be about our marriage, our vows, our pledge to each other. Not about the dress, or the linens, or the number of petals on the aisle. I wanted my wedding, from the planning to the execution, to be a stress-free, happy time. I did not want to look back on those moments before the wedding and kick myself for screaming at a florist or for making the caterer cry. I wanted to see that moment when my future hubby tried on his wedding suit for the first time and thinking, “Wow. This man actually wants to spend his life with me.” I wanted to remember sampling cake with mom at B and D Bakery even though every birthday cake I’d ever eaten for 24 years had come from there. I wanted to feel the strength of my father’s able arm as he walked me down the aisle and willingly handed me over to my husband.
Last week, as I was reading some of my favorite blogs, I came across this post that Denine over at “Discerning the Heart of God” wrote about the wedding at Cana. As always, Denine had some beautiful insight into the miracle that I had never seen. So I buried myself in the beginning of John 2, wondering where God would take me.
It’s my understanding that weddings in the first century were not small affairs. The whole town showed up to celebrate.
John doesn’t share with us the marriage ceremony or the weepy mothers or the vegan vs. carnivore menus. John goes straight to the problem. Which is never a good sign at a wedding. Mary informs Jesus that they are all out of wine. I don’t know if that was considered bad manners or something that could shame the family. But apparently it was big enough, Mary wanted her Son to pull some strings. We don’t know if a bunch of uninvited guests crashed the party, so that’s why they were out of wine. We don’t know if the people got drunk, and that’s why they were out of wine. Or whether the family was poor and couldn’t afford a lot of wine. Or if tipsy uncle Sal bumped into the wine barrel, knocking it all over the groomsmen and the dirt floor.
Jesus’ answer to His mother has always surprised me, “My time has not yet come.” I always wondered what He meant by that. Perhaps He was telling her, His time for miracles had not come. But if that were the case, He wouldn’t have performed the miracle. Perhaps He was telling her He didn’t want people to know He was the Messiah yet. But John the Baptist had already baptized Him and had revealed to people that Jesus was the Son of God. Also, as Jesus was calling His disciples to follow Him, Nathanael, of the “nothing good comes from Nazareth” mindset, proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God. So I can’t imagine that’s what Jesus meant by His time hadn’t come.
I dug deeper into the Word and talked it out with Lady Di. Then God filled us with fresh manna.
The wedding at Cana symbolizes the Kingdom of Heaven and the master of the house is God (Matthew 22:2). The bridegroom is Jesus (John 3:29). The new wine represents the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:27-29). The servants represent Christ’s followers (2 Corinthians 4:5). The stone jars represent our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Mary instructs the servants (us) to do whatever Jesus tells us. OK. Easy enough, right? What does He tell us? He tells us to fill the jars (our bodies—mind, soul, spirit) with water. Hmm…water, huh? That got me thinking. Water is the Word of God. Jesus is telling us to fill ourselves with His Word.
Jesus is also is the living water: “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:14) Could it be that He, the Word, the Living Water, is alluding to the Holy Spirit and its transformative, life-changing, mind-bending power?
Once the servants fill the jars with water, He instructs them to dip some out and give it to the Master. They do. The Master tastes it. But a crazy, miraculous, beautiful, breathtaking thing happened to that Water. It had become wine.
Did I mention those stone jars were used for ceremonial cleansing? (Baptism, perhaps?) I imagine since paved roads, indoor plumbing, and Nikes weren’t around, the people were probably coated in dust. They needed a good cleansing. But the Living Water of Jesus doesn’t just wash away the grime from our hands and feet. It cleanses us on the inside. It purifies our sin. His Word pours into our vessels, purifies our hearts, and because of the power of His sacrifice, fills us with the Holy Spirit.
Another thought: wine is made from grapes. Well, we know that fruit only comes to those whose lives are rooted in the fertile soil of His Word. Therefore, we can’t produce wine unless we are first filled with water.
The Master tastes the wine and sees that it is good. Better, in fact, than the first wine the hosts served. They had saved the Best for last.
First miracle. Best is last.
This made me think of, “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last” (Matthew 20:16). Jesus is first and last. He is the Alpha and Omega.
Here’s where God smacked me over the head. Mary asked Jesus to save the wedding. He told her His time had not yet come. Sure, He saved that wedding. But His time to save THE wedding had not come. The wedding where He, our bridegroom, stands at the altar and watches as we walk on the able arm of our Father, and He welcome us, His bride, into His loving arms.
John tells us in Revelation that the wedding feast of the Lamb is when the time HAS come. John also tells us that we, as the bride, must prepare ourselves for our wedding. I want to make sure I have extra oil for my lamp, so I don’t miss it when He comes knocking on my door (Matthew 25: 1-13). Oil is about relationship, not religion. Oil is about being a servant who follows what Jesus says and about filling my stone jar with water and allowing His Holy Spirit to transform it into wine.
His wine is free to me (Isaiah 55: 1-2) but it cost Him everything.
I pray that I don’t get caught up in the “wine of passionate immorality” (Revelation 18:3) of this Babylonian culture that leads to a time when the “happy voices of brides and grooms will never be heard” again (18:23).
I wait, with patient longing, for my second wedding day. The day when I get to meet my Groom face-to face, and He greets me with “kisses as exciting as the best wine” (Song of Solomon 7:9). My Husband, who promises me eternity, who sacrificed His life for me on the cross, who loves me with a love that I yearn to grasp just “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep” it goes (Ephesians 3:18).