Lesson 18: Jesus Attended a Wedding Feast in Cana of Galilee
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A Blending OfThe Four Gospel Records.
Welcome to Lesson # 18. In our last lesson Jesus left the Jordan and went back into Galilee, his home territory. In John 2:1, you will notice John disposes of three mere days, i.e. after Jesus left Bethabara and carne into Galilee; thus, making a total of one week covered here in John's record. This one week takes us down through John 2:11. However, the day of the week is not identified in any of these verses. Possibly the Sabbath day fell between ch. 1 and ch. 2 during the three day interval not covered. If that be the case, then Jesus may have been at Nazareth over the Sabbath day. I'm assuming that Jesus visited home on his return into Galilee. And, it would appear that his newly form friends, that at first, had been disciples of John the Baptist, went with Jesus into Galilee and were with him for a few days (at least), on this occasion. Now, keep in mind, this was probably in the late fall of A.D. 29 and probably before the rainy season of winter got under way, at least not the most severe of that season.
But, right now let's read the first 12 verses in John ch. 2. Have you got it? Let's read! "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour has not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three ferkins a piece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants which drew the water knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples; and they continued there not many days."
First of all, let's get Cana of Galilee entered on your mAp. This town was only a short distance from Nazareth; possibly 2 or 3 miles. City # 8 on your map-worksheet. Enter it now! C-A-N-A, the spelling is in v. 1. We learn in John 21:2, this was the hometown of Nathanael; the one you will remember that spoke reproachfully about Nazareth (I assume it's the same Nathanael). So, this city of Cana must have had a little more class than Nazareth. It would to most informative to have seen these villages and met these people. But, the best that we can do is use our imagination in trying to visualize these ancient people and places. I get the impression they liked to party. They would apparently lay aside their work and feast and party for days. And weddings were quite a party-affair. But, the fact that Jesus accepted an invitation and attended this wedding feast with some of his disciples tells us several things. (1) Jesus respected and honored marriage. (2) He participated in (at least some) social functions. (3) He endorsed happy occasions. We are not told who got married: but I am inclined to think it; as a close friend to Jesus' family. I draw this conclusion from the fact that Mary, the mother of Jesus was there. This lady, now possibly 50 years old, not only attended, Mary was obviously involved in providing for the guests. Observe her instructions to the servants (v.5). And Jesus' disciples were invited, (v.2). You might note that this is the first reference to "disciples" as pertaining to Jesus. We learned that John the Baptist had disciples up in v.35. The word "disciple" (here) simply means: "a learner" or a student of a particular teacher. As we progress through the N.T. this word takes on a little broader meaning later to include the idea of being a Christian. The word as used here in v.2 may have included Peter, Andrew, Philip, Nathaniel, John and possibly others.
It would appear to me that the major reason for John including this occasion in his record was simply that this was the first miracle Jesus did. The beginning of miracles as v. 11 put it. First of all, it might be pointed out that this was unique to the messiah. John the Baptist did no miracles, John 10:41 says that. But, Jesus on the other hand did scadds and scadds of miracles. These were for the singular purpose of proving his messiahship; i.e. it establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was (and is) God's son. John says in the last verse o 1 this book; that if all these miracles were all written down the world would not contain the books that should be written. That was John's estimate. Thus, the record WE HAVE doesn't even include the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. But, the miracle (we just read about) in Cana of Galilee was the first (v.11). Secondly, we learn a little about a wedding feasts., .a big feed...AND it tells us a little about their social customs.
Get an eye on v.3 and try to visualize with me, Mary the mother of Jesus coming to Jesus and saying, "They have no wine." What is implied in that statement? Well, first of all it was apparently their custom to have wine at wedding feasts. And, next, this must have been a poor family with lots of friends and guests; but not much wine. It also tells us that Mary had a lot of trust in Jesus. Undoubtedly in the past when emergency or embarrassing situations had developed; Mary had learned that Jesus could usually provide or improvise to relieve (or at least improve) the situation. The KJV here says, "when they wanted wine." But, the NIV says, "when the wine was gone." The New American Standard says: "the wine gave out..." And, it's obvious from the comments of the ruler of the feast (in v.10) this was NOT at the beginning of the feast. Thus, I get the picture that the wine ran out. Did Mary expect Jesus to do a miracle? Well, of course we don't know Mary's mind and thus we cannot know the answer, absolutely. She had PROBABLY already heard about the things that transpired when Jesus was baptized of John in the Jordan. She had undoubtedly heard of John the Baptist's remarks about Jesus. And of course she knew very well the things that had happened in Jesus's early life. She kept these things in her heart Luke 2:51 said. Here were Jesus' disciples gathered around and she expected something out of the ordinary sooner or later; so, why not now? Thus, she was at least promoting the opportunity that Jesus might manifest himself as the Messiah.
Now, look at Jesus' answer. I don't think this was intended to be a disrespectful answer; in spite of the fact that Jesus did not address Mary as his mother. He was simply making the point that he must act As he pleased. the divine takes precedence over parental duties and respect. What did Jesus mean when he said, "mine hour is not yet come"? Now, latch on to something here! YOU KNOW that Jesus DID eventually manifest himself to the whole world (in an indisputable way), that He was (and is) the Christ. He made it known to the whole world, through his resurrection from the dead. He did it ONE TIME. And, that's all it took. That one hour, so-to-speak, was to be the primary manifestation of Jesus as the Christ. However, Jesus did manifest himself to be the Christ, a number of times, to a limited few. The wedding feast in Cana of Galilee was the first of such occasions. No prophets had come to Israel for over 400 years, since the time of Malachi. John did no miracles. Jesus did NOT merely overcome some little embarrassing situation at a wedding feast when he turned water into wine in Cana of Galilee; THAT was secondary or incidental to what happened here. So, get John the apostle’s point of view in v. 11. "his disciples believed on him." THAT is John's concluding remark. It strengthened the faith of the disciples. It convinced the unbeliever. It established divine approval and divine existence. AND, that was the primary purpose of ALL miracles. You need to latch on to this point early; so, you can test it on every miracle that Jesus did. Every miracle passes the test. And while we are on that subject; let me make another point or two here. First, this was a clean rut, undisputed miracle. There were no murky, maybe, twilight zones that had to be accented on assumption. The servants filled the water pots with water (h2o), up to the brim (v.7). Then the SERVANTS drew it out (v.9). There was no "hocus-pocus", send me a dollar, stuff going on here. The governor of the feast, which the NASB calls the "headwaiter" observed, unaware of the miracle, that this was good wine. So we’re not talking about some slight of hand. Focus in on v.6 just a minute. There were "six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews." Do you see that? That purifying business simply means to wash your hands. The Jews and particularly the Pharisees were a little nutty to the extreme on this. A "ferkin" was about nine gallons or more than a bushel in our system of measure. Thus, each of these six big stone jars had more than twenty gallons of water that was turned into wine, filled to the brim (v.7). In other words OVER one hundred gallons of wine total. Slight of hand? It would have been a little difficult for Jesus to get that much wine up his sleeve or palm it out of his hat. So, this must have been a pretty large crowd and that may explain why they ran out of wine. These stone jars were apparently NOT the original wine containers, but, the source of water supply for the guests to wash their hands. Now, they didn't know what was IN those containers. I would assume each guest drew out a small quantity into another vessel to wash their hands. But, it was apparently after all the guests had washed up and the wine ran out, that Jesus had the servants to refill the water pots before Jesus miraculously turned the water to wine. Some of the guests might even have taken a little wine home with them or undoubtedly this newly married couple had a good supply of wine to start their marriage. But, the very magnitude of this miracle helps dispel any questions about slight of hand. And, this again is true in every miracle that Jesus did.
While we're at this point, try to visualize THIS "after the manner of the purifying of the Jews: bit in v.6. This was a tradition of the Jews to wash their hands in an apparently ceremonial way. And that tradition later became a source of friction between Jesus and some of the Jews. So, get a handle on this now, if you will. Get a visual image AT LEAST in your mind of this ceremonial hand washing tradition. They considered it sinful NOT to do this. But, we'll discuss that
Now, SOME have appealed to these verses to justify strong drink. Paul told Timothy, "use a little wine for thy stomach's sake." (I Tim. 5:23) Jesus MADE WINE! They say. Now, let's be honest. A third grader could rightly divide these verses well enough to see through such perversion. Then, they were not using it as a MINDBENDER, that's obvious. To get into such discussions show a lack of understanding of these passages. You know, they didn't have soda pop, coca cola, ginger ale, and sprite. The grapevine was about all they knew in terms of a sweet, good tasting, drink that they enjoyed. And grape juice, however they served it, was about their only choice. You know supermarkets didn't exist in those days. And they liked the taste of grape juice. So, this seems pretty natural to me. I know that SOME then, like today, try to concentrate the alcohol content of grape juice to get their kicks. But, my friend, you cannot appeal to this occasion. (I'm talking about this wedding feast in Galilee); to accuse Jesus of condoning strong drink. Try, to visualize the situation as it was! Get a real perceptive view of this. Don't put on colored glasses. Try to visualize the wedding in Cana of Galilee in its true, crude and native way, as it really happened. You see, John gave us a valuable window (here) at just one cultural and social event that can give us some real insight. Someone has said this occasion teaches that the Lord keeps the best until the last. Well, I can see how one might construct a sermon on that thought; but that is probably stretching it pretty heavy. For those who DO NOT obey the LORD saves the WORST until the last. So, if we anticipate the best at the last, we better obey, NOW. But, that aspect is not really taught in these verses, you see. So, let's keep it in perspective and don't try to harvest more from any event that it really teaches.
O.K v.1 2 tells us that Jesus THEN went down to Capernaum. Let's get this on your map. City #9. The spelling is in v.12. The city of Capernaum was on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee. Did you find it? City #9. Now, Jesus was accompanied by his mother, Mary, his brothers and his disciples. That would be a party of at least 10 people. This may not mean that they left directly from the wedding feast. But, undoubtedly they departed shortly after that time. "His brethren" undoubtedly has reference to the four young men who were Jesus' half-brothers, all younger than Jesus, i.e. the sons of Joseph and Mary. Their names are given in Matthew 13:55. Notice, their stay at Capernaum is described at the end of v. 12 as "not many days." That could mean a day or two or six months, I don't know. So, form your own opinion. This is all we know about their journey, one verse. The reason for their going is not given. This was in the general direction of where Philip, Peter and Andrew lived at Bethsaida, you might notice. And there was some good reason for this trip, I'm sure; although, that reason is not mentioned here. But, Jesus in the months that followed and throughout his personal ministry spent a good deal of time in Capernaum. It turned out to be Jesus' headquarters, more or less. Now, the word "headquarters" is not used in the N.T.; I hope you understand. That is MY description, not a Bible description. I'm simply trying to point out that Jesus' travels centered around the city of Capernaum to some extent for most of his REMAINING 3 ½ years. These 12 verses in John ch. 2 and few verses at the end of John ch. 1, is all that we know about Jesus' so-called Early Galilean Ministry. And, remember, John is the only book that covers this. Matthew, Mark, and Luke pass this by. Thus, in this lesson we leave Jesus in Capernaum. Until our next lesson, have a good day.