Three Major Spiritual Lessons From the Wedding Feast at Cana

What can we learn from Jesus at a wedding party? Plenty, and I hope this blesses you today! Currently in my preaching, I’m showing the spiritual lessons we can learn from the sign miracles in the earthly ministry of Jesus in John’s Gospel. The Apostle John wrote his Gospel account of Jesus’ life around 90 A.D., and it is wrapped around eight sign miracles (seven before the crucifixion, one after the Resurrection of Christ) performed by Jesus. (Some may wish to include His resurrection as a ninth miracle.)

John specifically tells us that these miracles were signs revealing Jesus’ deity so that lost mankind would put their faith in Him (John 20:30-31).

So John tells us that God comes to earth as a sinless man (John 1:1-14), and where does He go to perform His first public miracle? Before Caesar in Rome? Before the great philosophers in Athens? Nope. He goes to a wedding! Jesus in John 2 goes to a wedding feast to join in the celebration and to bless a young couple. Here are the three major lessons I have learned from this fascinating little story.

1. God approves of and blesses marriage.

The first two verses tell us that Jesus, His mother, and His disciples were all invited, and they all showed up for the party! Just by showing up at a wedding, Jesus tells us that He loves marriage.

Marriage is not a social construct to be redefined by a vote or a human court’s whim. God created marriage for humans, and it is always and exclusively only between male and female (Genesis 1:27-31; 2:20-24). Marriage is intended for men and women to live together in harmony, to produce and raise children, and to civilize society — setting the example of a caring couple sharing mutual responsibilities, love, and respect.

Here is Jesus showing up and reveling in the wedding celebration (and Middle Eastern weddings were quite the celebration — sometimes lasting a week or more!).

A wedding feast is also a picture of our future relationship with God forever. This is the scene of Jesus’ first public miracle, and at the end of the Bible in Revelation 19:7-9 and 21:2-3 we see the final, eternal union of God with His people … and it is compared to marriage. God’s eternal party in His kingdom is called a wedding feast — the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Kingdom of God is a party!

2. Jesus is the creator and master of every situation.

The wedding party ran out of wine. Now, at this point I must digress for just a second. Was this real wine with alcohol in it? Yes. The Greek word “oinos” always refers to fermented grape juice. Yes, Jesus consumed alcohol. However, we must also understand that wine consumed at parties in the ancient world was often also diluted with water. J. Dwight Pentecost in his masterful work The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (pp. 115-117) quotes such sources as Homer and Pliny the Younger to show that wine was mixed with water.

Sometimes the ratio was 20 parts water to wine; other times it was 8 or even 3 parts water to wine. It would seem then, that the wine Jesus consumed was probably not as potent as some of the wine that is consumed today. And since the Bible speaks very powerfully against drunkenness, it is apparent that neither Jesus nor His mother or disciples were inebriated (Proverbs 20:1; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3).

(Note to the reader, personally I practice teetotalism. Being raised in a family in which there was alcoholism, I thought it best as an adult to completely abstain from consuming alcohol. I don’t miss it. If you drink it, the Bible is clear that you are not to let it control you.)

The party is about to crash and burn because they are out of wine. Somebody forgot to buy enough or plan for all these wedding guests. Mary reports to Jesus the obvious in John 2:3: “They have no wine.” Notice that the text does not say that anyone reports to Mary in order to get the message to Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). She does not twist his arm. In fact, she does not even ask Him to do a thing. She states the obvious.

Since Jesus is God, I am quite sure that Jesus already knew that they had run out of wine, and I am sure that He already had a plan. He gently and politely rebukes His mother in verse 4 with some interesting statements. First, He calls her “woman”. This was not impolite in that day and age. It was the equivalent of saying “ma’am.” Now, “ma’am” is polite, but not exactly what you would say to your mom, right? Jesus does not call her “mother” or “mom” or “mama” or any term of endearment. Then He says “what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

He is putting distance between her and Himself. He is not subordinate to her. Jesus does not answer to her. He, and not Mary, determines “the hour,” that is, the timetable of His divine mission on earth.

Mary gets this. She is not offended. In verse 5 she gives the only command we ever hear from her in the whole Bible. It sure is a good one: “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.”

Jesus swings into action. As the master of every situation, He knows what to do. Run out of joy? He’s got the plan. Run out of ideas, friends, hope? He’s got the plan, and He never runs dry. He tells them to fill up the stone waterpots (used for religious purification) with water. Each stone pot could hold 20 to 30 gallons of water. Jesus takes ordinary common elements (water, stone), and as the Creator He bypasses the normal processes of waiting for grapes to grow and then ferment. The water turns into wine in abundance.

Someone once remarked that God is always turning water into wine. He’s always turning water into something else. It’s just that in the normal process of nature it takes a long time for the water to come down as rain, and for grapes to grow and be harvested and then ferment. At this wedding, Jesus just sped up the process! He is the master over time. Time is often our enemy. Here Jesus takes our enemy and transforms it to work for us, instead of against us.

3. Jesus brings joy in abundance.

In the Bible “wine” is often used as a symbol of joy (Judges 9:13; Psalm 104:14-15; Joel 2:22-26, 3:18). When He produced the wine (John 2:9-10), it was not just a little bit. He made 120-180 gallons of wine! I read where someone did the math and this would add up to as many as 2,000 four ounce glasses for everyone! They all had more than enough and to spare.

This reminds me of John 1:16 which says “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” “Grace for grace” is a figure of speech in Greek meaning “grace overflowing upon grace” or “superabounding grace.” Jesus is not stingy. He lavishes His grace on us, just like He lavished an abundance of wine on the wedding guests.

In the book of Exodus Moses was turning water into blood — both in buckets of wood and in pitchers of stone (Exodus 7:19). God’s miracle through Moses was a sign of judgment — a sign of condemnation. The Law can only bring condemnation, but Jesus brings life (John 1:17).

Jesus’ miracle in John 2 was not to condemn, but to bless. He turned the water in the pitcher of stone not to blood, but to blood red wine, to bring joy.

Notice the remarks of the master of ceremonies in John 2:9-10. He doesn’t have a clue that a miracle had taken place (the servants knew, however). And he’s quick to thank the groom, who had nothing to do with it! (How often do we misplace our thanks and ignore the God who daily blesses us in ways we do not see?)

But the master of ceremonies gets one thing right: the best wine was served. Jesus only gives us His best. He is always in control, He gives us His life, and He gives what we need in abundance in His time.