Cana Wedding – An Unspoken Homily

Cana Wedding – An Unspoken Homily

Cana Wedding – An Unspoken Homily.

“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Dear woman, that’s not our problem,’ Jesus replied. ‘My time has not yet come.’ But His mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you.”   (Please read John 2:1-11.)

Sometimes Jesus had a flair for the dramatic. Here He was, the third day after being baptized, and He eagerly embraced the idea of going to a friend’s wedding in a little village called Cana. The groom for the wedding was probably, according to Orthodox tradition, a future apostle named Simon the Zealot. The presence of Jesus at this wedding was significant. The fact is He literally graced that wedding with His presence much like He is gracing today’s wedding through His Holy Spirit. It’s important right off the bat here to realize that Jesus enjoyed public celebrations. He was not afraid to attend these wedding celebrations to dance and sing and feast. By attending this wedding, he revealed that He is not a Messiah who will hide away in a bubble, avoiding worldly occasions that are filled with joy. By giving His stamp of approval here, He is in effect asking all His followers to follow Him into joy and gladness and celebration. Jesus was definitely not a morose party-hating Messiah. I somehow can’t see Jesus standing aloof in the corner. He was undoubtedly a willing participant, perhaps even the life of the party. Jesus taught many parables about the kingdom using parties and feast as the background. He enjoyed celebrating with a meaningful purpose in mind.

For one thing, by attending this wedding, Jesus honored the biblical union of a man and a woman in marriage. He affirmed marriage as something honorable, biblical, God-ordained. In Cana we see Jesus endorsing the beautiful sanctity of two persons becoming one flesh. Jesus here embraced the mystery of marriage. If Jesus approved of marriage as the ideal love story, who are we to object?

The profound mystery Jesus no doubt entertained in His mind during the wedding is the great mystery Paul unpacked in Ephesians 5, in which wives and husbands are the closest description on earth of the intimacy between Christ and His bride, the Church. The love between husband and wife, no matter how profound, is nonetheless only an echo of the love Christ has for us. God communicates His love for us through Jesus. God yearns for a loving relationship with each of us that approaches the love —  and — have for each other. The promised love between husband and wife reflects the covenant love between God and His people. Christ’s love for us is a deep mystery, just as the intimate love between —-  and —– has mysterious elements beyond their scope right now. The intimate union of husband and wife is the clearest picture we can get of the intimate union between Jesus and believers. I trust I am not putting words into the mouth of Jesus, but I have no doubt that Jesus was reflecting on just these sorts of mysteries while attending that Cana wedding.

Here’s another truth symbolized by this common Jewish wedding. The prophets in the Hebrew Bible have likened the covenant between God and Israel to a marriage covenant. The events on Mt. Sinai, with Moses officiating, resulted in the “ketuba,” the marriage covenant between God and His people. Mt. Sinai was the time God promised His faithful love to Israel. Faithful Jews firmly believe that they were married to God through this Sinai covenant. The fact is that God often referred to Himself as Israel’s husband.

  1. For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is His name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” (Isaiah 54:5);
  2. “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5);
  3. “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband.” (Jeremiah 3:14);
  4. “In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’; I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion; I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea 2:16, 20).

Every Jewish wedding was in fact a holy reminder to the Jews of what transpired with Moses on the holy mount. Every wedding had a heightened sense of rejoicing and celebration because it caused the people to remember Yahweh’s covenant of faithful love to Israel. An earthly wedding was the closest God could get to the heavenly ketubah, the covenant of loving faithfulness between God and His people. While celebrating an earthly wedding, the Jews were rejoicing in their divine covenant with God, their husband.

Jewish weddings weren’t just a time to celebrate the loving union of groom and bride. And it was more than just an opportunity to remember God’s marriage covenant of love with Israel. There was much more to a wedding, many more reasons to celebrate.

A wedding was also a foretaste of something that brought joy to every believing Jew… the Messianic Feast at the end of the age. According to Isaiah 25, the Messianic Banquet was to be a raucous celebration of the beginning of God’s rule, the final presence of the triumphant Messiah. Listen to Isaiah 25, a passage on the hearts of all those who knew their Scripture: “In Jerusalem, the Lord of Hosts will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world. It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat. There He will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Yahweh will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against His land and people. Yahweh has spoken!” (Isaiah 25:6-8)

So every Jewish wedding was experienced in that light, an echo of when the whole world would celebrate the defeat of wickedness and the joy of life eternal with their husband Yahweh. A wedding feast was an important and vivid picture of the joyful destiny of every God-fearing Jew. There was unbridled joy at a Jewish wedding, because they anticipated the great Messianic supper. Isn’t it interesting that those who feasted with Jesus in Cana were actually enjoying a preliminary Messianic feast of their own, with the true Messiah in their midst.

At your typical Jewish wedding in the first century, the groom had the ultimate responsibility for the wine. Because the wedding feast was intended to reflect the Messianic Banquet, it was imperative that there be enough wine with which to celebrate. Even though the host always diluted the wine one part wine to three parts water, wine was the centerpiece of the festivities. To run out of wine was a major blunder by the groom. It was a humiliating catastrophe of biblical proportions to run out of wedding wine. So in the end, Jesus provided the much-needed wine. Jesus acted the part of the bridegroom by providing the wine. Bridegroom was a much beloved title of Jesus by early Christians. John the Baptist days after this wedding called Jesus the bridegroom (John 3:29), and the title stuck. Jesus proved Himself to be the fulfillment of all the Jewish scriptures about God being the husband. Early Christian believers thought of the Church as His bride, and they considered the relationship between Christ and His followers to be a spousal relationship in a spiritual sense. In Cana, Jesus began His earthly calling as the Bridegroom, the betrothed husband of believers everywhere.

A quick sidenote on betrothal… Betrothal was the time period after the promise of marriage but before the actual marriage took place. It is now considered the time when we are spiritually betrothed to our husband, Bridegroom Jesus. It is important to think about this idea when considering our current relationship with Christ. In Jewish marriage, a couple becomes betrothed as they commit themselves to a future marriage. Betrothal was actually a very formal contract and not a mere engagement period that could be easily called off at any moment. Betrothal was a binding commitment to a covenant relationship, a very serious promise to be married. When Christ became incarnate, lived out His life and ministry on earth, died, and rose from the dead, He betrothed Himself to His followers. He made a profound promise to a future marriage to us His bride. And so now Christ and His followers are committed to each other in betrothal, a spiritual betrothal, a formal relationship of love that anticipates a marriage in the future. When Christ returns for His bride, the Church, He is the Bridegroom coming for His bride, us. He will then consummate His relationship with us in the Wedding of the Lamb described in Revelation 19. When Christ comes to marry His bride, that Wedding of the Lamb will complete the betrothal, and the spousal love between the Bridegroom and the bride, the spiritual husband and wife, will be complete and forever. Believers are right now betrothed to Jesus, anticipating our future marriage in the New Jerusalem. The Jewish tradition is that upon betrothal, the bridegroom to be provides gifts for the future bride to make the betrothal official. The groom’s gifts confirm that they are to be faithful to each other before the marriage. And what has our Bridegroom given to us His bride during this betrothal? He has lavished us with the greatest gift of all, straight from the Father, the supreme gift of His Holy Spirit.

John’s gospel tells us that this first miracle of Jesus was the beginning of “signs” Jesus did, that turning water into wine was a sign. Now, signs point the way, signs always identify something. And John believed the many miracles of Jesus, or signs, point to the power and grace of the Lord, and these signs identify Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God. And John said this simple, impossible miracle in Cana “manifested His glory.” (2:11). Come again? How did a simple miracle in a little wedding manifest His glory? Well, what is glory? Glory is the radiant presence of God, attracting the honor due His nature and Name. Glory involves the dignity of His character and Being. Glory is the heavenly weight of His splendor that causes people to believe in Him. And here we have his glory revealed, through a marvelous homespun miracle of turning water into wine, in which He rearranged the atomic elements to change the substance at the subatomic level, created the crushed juice, He bypassed the time of fermentation, and He produced a vintage wine in seconds, He created something old to be new, all without touching a thing. A word was all it took. The wine grape didn’t need to grow in the vine, the grapes didn’t need to mature to the right time to be harvested, or crushed, or wait to be fermented. Jesus accelerated the whole process out of thin air. Well, He is the Vine, so it makes a certain kind of sense. One would think an isolated miracle in a backwoods village to help the groom to save face and help the people celebrate would constitute a revelation of glory. But, here we see Jesus manifesting His glory, and now the whole world knows about it.

This wedding miracle also revealed the lengths Jesus would go to, to demonstrate Divine Extravagance. Those six water pots used for ritual washing contained 20-30 gallons each. They were huge. Jesus had each of them filled to the brim with water, which means 120-180 gallons! That’s how much wine Jesus produced for this little village wedding! That amount is equivalent to 600-900 bottles of standard-sized wine bottles today! This was insanely more than was needed. And Jesus here is reflecting an important spiritual principle… God is not economical when it comes to blessings and provisions. It is immeasurable. God is not stingy with His blessings, when you start counting them up. He has an endless supply of grace and joy and forgiveness. Life eternal with Him is definitely over the top extravagance! Cana wine is an example of the showers of blessing coming from the hand of a merciful and gracious God. He provides more blessing than we need. He seems to almost waste precious resources in His generosity, spiritual riches without measure. And it wasn’t just the quantity of wine that was mind-boggling. It was the quality of the wine as well. Jesus made first-class, expensive, vintage wine for the end of the feast when most people wouldn’t even noticed. Jesus produced more wine than was needed, and a quality of wine that was unnecessary. Cana is a prime example of the Divine Extravagance of God.

So now, here we are, — and —. What’s to stop us from celebrating what Jesus celebrated in Cana? Why don’t we celebrate the mystery of your profound union, of two becoming one? Why not celebrate the covenant that God established with Israel before Christ, and then our betrothal to Jesus now? Why not celebrate in the spirit of the Messianic Feast, the Supper of the Lamb in the New Jerusalem? Why not celebrate Jesus as the ultimate Bridegroom here at this wedding, the heavenly spouse who has promised His faithful love to the end of time? How about if we celebrate the presence of God in the world, the presence of the Spirit right here at this wedding in —–? Can’t we celebrate the weight of His splendor showing up at this wedding here, just as He did in Cana long ago? Let’s celebrate the fact that Jesus so highly thought of weddings that He not only attended, He also revealed His glory there. Let’s celebrate His embrace of joy and celebration, His participation in public merriment. And let’s celebrate the Divine Extravagance of God here at this wedding. Out of love, Glod provided you, — and —, to each other. An extravagance of grace and mercy for you to celebrate. So let us anticipate the Lamb’s Supper, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give God glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife the Church has made herself ready… Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:7-9). Let us celebrate in that spirit as we honor — and — on their wedding day.