John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 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, 10 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. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him.
Years ago I was reading these verses about Jesus’ first miracle when I came to verse 6 and it just seemed to jump out at me.
“And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.”
For many years I simply read through the passage, simply retaining how Jesus had turned water into wine, which without a doubt a doubt this was truly a significant event, water into wine. But I had failed to take notice of where the water was that Jesus had turned into wine and even why it was there. Suddenly, every aspect of the event was suddenly more significant than I had previously been able to appreciate from the location, the event, and all the things involved in the miracle. There are many things here that require our reflection if we are to truly appreciate what Jesus did in the “beginning of miracles” as Jesus “manifested forth His glory” at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.
The reason this water was even there in the first place was because of the traditions of the Jews. It wasn’t there for their consumption, it was there for religious purification. See the Jews had taken a prophetic truth and turned it into a vain tradition. It was their opinion that nothing was truly cleansed unless it had been washed in “living water.” What that means is simply running water, either from a moving river, spring, or simply the pouring of water over their hands as the washed them allowing the filth to be washed away. To bathe in a basin was merely to wash hands in dirty water, consequently it must be living, or flowing.
2Ki 3:11b . . . Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.
Consider also the imagery of the following verses as well–
Le 14:5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: 7 And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.
What tremendous prophetic action, one bird being washed in the blood and living water of another and being set free to live. Another great example would be the design and function of the brazen laver which I hope to have time to write about soon. Now these were true prophetic things which God ordained to symbolize aspects of the Gospel, but they were never to become the object of faith or the confidence of men. Let’s look at an account in Mark –
Mr 7:2 And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”
Now we need to make a distinction here, for the Pharisees were not simply speaking of washing some things for the sake of physical cleanliness, they were taking these to the end to declare their own spiritual pureness. Their confidence had drifted so far from what God had originally intended and said that now they were actually condemning Jesus and His disciples of sin because they had eaten “bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands,” and therefore the Pharisees looked at Jesus and “they found fault.”
Listen to Jesus’ reply to them –
Mr 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Jesus turns the accusation around and addresses their sins by the light of God’s word and publicly calls them hypocrites. Look at His list of their sins here:
- Lip service only, no true heart worship.
- Vain and dead religious worship established only upon men’s tradition.
- Rejection of God words by laying (casting) it aside to do their own little religious performance.
What we can see is how their religion which was once founded upon the oracles of God had now become completely man centered. They were taking the Lord’s name in vain by calling themselves the people of God, yet they were casting His commandments away from them. This is really not too different from many who nowadays are professing to be “Christians: or followers of God. Regardless of all their talk about God and how they confessed to be the children of Abraham, the people of God, there was no true seeking of God or drawing nigh unto Him. Therefore, Jesus condemns them because as God had said through Isaiah, “their hearts are far from Me.”
Scripture warns us how the heart tends to be much like our eyes; it too tends to focus on one thing primarily.
Mt 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
Their hearts had turned away from the Lord and were now focused upon themselves. No longer were they seeking His Kingdom and glory, they had become nearsighted and were only focused upon themselves. Now their meager little treasures had been reduced to whatever they could get here and now through their religious traditions and prideful scrutiny, causing the light within them of which they boasted great confidence to become but a great blinding darkness. This is evident in all prideful and covetous men who think they clearly see, their arrogance will be evident in many areas of their vain religion.
Mt 6:10 For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
They had fallen so far and corrupted the righteous precept of true faith working by love to the point of making void the fifth commandment, which is the first and greatest of the Ten Commandments which were design to govern the love and relationships of all humanity, (the first four commandments focusing on our relationships with and loving God).
Ex 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
For it is as Paul stated, “If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Instead of encouraging men to be providing for their own family and aging parents, these greedy hypocrites had designed away of excusing men from their godly obligations; permitting them to selfishly keep and use their wealth for themselves as long as sufficient gifts were being made and ultimately was left to these blind guides.
But now the fullness of time has come, Jesus begins His ministry there at the wedding feast in Cana at one of the greatest prophetic sacrament between man and a woman, a holy marriage. Through marriage husbands and wives are given the privilege and responsibility to adorn the Gospel of God our Savor, it is a holy unions design to represent the ultimate plan of God for all. Husbands taking unto themselves their own wives to love, provide for and protect the weaker vessels as Christ so loved His church and wives likewise loving and submitting to their own husbands as the church should unto Christ, taking their names unto themselves not in vain. For more on this please read “Why God made us Males and Female.”
After their arrival at the wedding Jesus asked for wine and was told by His mother that there was none. Mary then turns and gives directions which have become known as “The Gospel according to Mary” unto the servants, “Whatsoever He says, do.” Jesus has them fill the water pots to the brim and then turns the water unto wine, now there is no ceremonial water whereby others could now wash their hands to partake of the festivities of the wedding. Jesus literally took this Pharisaic vain tradition of purification and brought it to an abrupt prophetic end.
What fabulous prophetic imagery! A wedding, wine, celebration, union with Christ, our atonement, the marriage supper of the Lamb, all being put forth gloriously at the beginning of Jesus’ miracles and ministry. However, what is also sadly prophetic was the action at Christ crucifixion where they took and gave unto Jesus vinegar on the cross.
John 19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
This wasn’t just vinegar, like we might readily think of vinegar off the store shelf. This was sour wine which was permitted to turn into vinegar had past the stage of being “good wine” like that was served at the wedding of Cana, it was neglected wine. Note the description given in Numbers -
Num 6:3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.
This giving of the sour wine vinegar to Jesus was a witness against those who demanded His crucifixion and had rejected His Gospel of the Kingdom because it threaten their own. They neglected His gift of prophetic purification and gave it back to Him soured by their rejection of Him and His words and their clinging to their own vain traditions. There they were doing as Jesus said , filling up the measure of their fathers.
Mt 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
This “vinegar” was given to Jesus, “That the scripture might be fulfilled.” That scripture is found in Psalm 69 –
Ps 69:19 Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee. 20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Sometimes we fail to allow ourselves to dwell upon the severity of God’s judgment. We tend to want to only see the mercy and forgiveness of God. However, we must consider the whole council of God and upon knowing the terror of the Lord we must labor to persuade men to repent. God is not mocked, we will all reap what we sow . . . and therefore was the judgment so prophetically pronounced upon those who crucified Him.
Psm 69:22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. 24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. 25 Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. 27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.
Some have the notion the following words of Jesus are relieving them, the Jewish rulers, of their guilt and not laying it to their account.
Lu 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
But these religious hypocrites were not ignorant of their actions, they knew full well what they did and why –
John 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
We need to guard our own hearts lest these reproofs of scriptures should every find application against us –
Ro 2:19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
No, these religious leaders weren’t forgiven, they were held accountable. Their names were “blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. One cannot partake of Christ and then go and continue to willfully sin against Him. Surely we all will have moments of failure due to the violence of temptation or because of our ignorance of the perfect will of God, but confession and repentance upon understand assures us the mercy of forgiveness when we humble ourselves before our Savor. But we must never forget, judgment always begins in the house of the Lord and everything that can be shaken will be shaken. So then, just who was Jesus praying for? Who was it that didn’t really understand what they were doing when they cast lots for His garments and nailed Him to the cross? Well, listen to the scriptures -
1Co 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
Blessed are those of us who have come to the same understanding of the Roman centurion who stood by Christ side and so confessed after all he had witnessed –
Mr 15:37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
What rich lessons here we can learn through the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and His first miracle. The condemning and throwing away of vain traditions, the witness of the promise of a wedding feast to which all have been bidden to come and an abundant source of purification in the blood of our atonement which ripped wide open the veil into the Holy of Holies. Now all the redeemed can come boldly before the Throne of Grace to petition and worship our Savor in spirit and truth. No, He did not come merely to cleanse the outside of this earthen vessel of ours. He came to purify us from within with the washing of the water of His word and to cleanse us from our sins in His blood. It is therefore possible now for our Holy God to come as our loving Groom unto us and dwell in us, filling us with His Spirit and imparting the power of His seed of life whereby we are born again, His word.
1Pe 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
Like Jesus’ disciples, let us too truly “believe on Him” and drink freely of this new wine and rejoice in the God of our salvation. Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus.