August 23rd, Day #5 - John 2:1-12
"Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now." – John 2:10
Jesus takes what is good and makes it better. What do you find yourself working so hard on in your own power, out of your own strength these days?
How could you surrender to Jesus, trusting that He can make something incredible, relieve some stress and strengthen your faith?
Read John 2:1-12
John 2:11 tells us that this curious miracle is the first of Jesus’ “signs.” This is the first of seven recorded by John. It seems relatively obscure – not many witnessed it, though they did enjoy its fruit. The seventh sign is the raising of Lazarus after he had been dead for four days. Each sign seems to top the one before it.
But why turn water into wine?
It’s a matter of something good giving way to something better. Weddings were huge social events and this family – acquaintances of Jesus’ family – was about to be significantly shamed because they were running out of the wine that they have been saving up for just this event.
Nearby there are some large water jars used for purification for Jewish religious rites. This is good. But Jesus wants to take it to another level. So He transforms the good water into the greatest wine. What was once for external, ritual purification is now transformed into the new wine of Jesus’ Kingdom that brings us joy from the inside out.
God is initiating something new. What new thing may He want to begin in your life today?
Let’s look to what God wants to say directly to you today through John 2:1-12
Scripture: As you read, take time to notice the phrases that pop out at you. What is it about them that catches your eye? What might the Lord be trying to tell you?
Observation: Which words are repeated in these verses? Why would that be?
Application: When did God begin moving toward you in your life? How did you experience God’s love during that time?
Prayer: Praise God for the ways He has initiated with you in your life! Let your trust and gratitude grow during this special time of prayer.
To understand Jesus' actions at the wedding in Cana, it will help to look at what weddings were like in that ancient Jewish culture.
In biblical times the father selected the bride for his sons. Abraham sent his servant to Haran to find a wife for his son Isaac (Gen. 24). In arranging a marriage, the bridegroom's family paid a price for the bride (Gen. 34:12; Exod. 22:16; 1st Sam. 28:25). When the marriage had been arranged, the couple entered the betrothal period, usually lasting a year and much more binding than the engagement of today. During that year the man prepared the home for his bride. The betrothal was established in one of two ways: a pledge in the presence of witnesses together with a sum of money or a written statement and a ceremony with a concluding benediction. Before Israel's exile the betrothal was ratified by a verbal promise (Ezek. 16:8); after the exile the bride and groom's parents signed a covenant binding the couple together. In New Testament times the parents of the bride and groom met, along with others as witnesses, while the groom gave the bride a gold ring or other valuable item. To the bride he spoke this promise: "See by this ring you are set apart for me, according to the law of Moses and of Israel."
The serious nature of the betrothal is evident. If a man had sexual relations with a woman betrothed to another man, they were both subject to the death penalty (Deut. 22:23-24). Had she not been betrothed, the man would have paid 50 shekels to the woman's father as a dowry, and she would have become his wife (Deut. 22:28-29).
The wedding was largely a social event during which a blessing was pronounced on the bride: "May you, our sister, become thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them" (Gen.24:60). The blessing reflected the concept of God's blessing, namely, a large family and victory over one's enemies. The marriage itself was secured by the formalizing of a marriage contract.
The parable of the 10 Virgins is rich with explanation of the Jewish wedding (Matt. 25:1-13). The wedding ceremony began with the bridegroom bringing home the bride from her parents' house to his parental home. The bridegroom, accompanied by his friends and amid singing and music, led a procession through the streets of the town to the bride's home (Jer.16:9). Along the way friends who were ready and waiting with their lamps lit would join in the procession (Matt. 25:7-10). Veiled and dressed in beautifully embroidered clothes and adorned with jewels, the bride, accompanied by her attendants, joined the bridegroom for the procession to his father's house (Ps. 45:13-15). Isaiah 61:10 describes the bridegroom decked out with a garland and the bride adorned with jewels. The bride's beauty would be forever remembered (Jer. 2:32). The bride and groom were considered king and queen for the week. Sometimes the groom even wore a gold crown. Once at the home, the bridal couple sat under a canopy amid the festivities of games and dancing which lasted an entire week- sometimes longer (Song 2:4). Guests praised the newly married couple; songs of love for the couple graced the festival. Sumptuous meals and wine filled the home or banquet hall (John 2:11). Ample provision for an elaborate feast was essential - failure could bring a lawsuit (John 2:3). The bridal couple wore their wedding clothes throughout the week; guests also wore their finery, which was sometimes supplied by wealthy families (Matt. 22:12).
On the first night, when the marriage was to be consummated, the father escorted his daughter to the bridal chamber (Gen. 29:21-23; Judg. 15:1). The bride's parents retained the bloodstained bed sheet to prove their daughter's virginity at marriage in case the husband attempted any recourse by charging that his bride was not a virgin (Deut. 22:13-21).
In some cases the bride did not remove the veil from her face until the following morning. When Jacob thought he was marrying Rachel, in the morning he discovered his wife was Leah (Gen. 29:25). At other times the veil was removed during the feast and laid on the groom's shoulder and the pronouncement made, "the government shall be on his shoulders" (Isa.9:6).
*This resource an excerpt from The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Paul P. Enns (Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), page 1664.