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 had simply read through the passage, simply retaining how Jesus had turned water into wine, which without a doubt was truly a significant event. But I had failed to take notice what water 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 appreciated. Everything from the location, the marriage, and all the steps involved in the miracle seemed filled with meaning. Hopefully, I will be able to share these things with you, details that require reflection if one is to truly appreciate all Jesus did with this “beginning of miracles,” when he began to “manifested forth His glory” at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.
This water was there because of the traditions of the Jews. It wasn’t there for consumption, rather 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 that the water needed to be in motion, such as a moving river, spring, or simply the pouring of water over their hands as they washed, thus allowing the impurities to be washed away. For to bathe in a basin would be washing hands in stagnant which would simply hold the impurities, leaving you merely washing in dirty water, consequently it was required to be living, or flowing water.
2 Kings 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–
Leviticus 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 living water and the blood of another and then 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 it needs to be clarified that the Pharisees were not simply speaking of washing some things for the sake of physical cleanliness, they doing all these things in order to declare their spiritual pureness. Their confidence had drifted so far from what God had originally intended, that they were now actually accusing Jesus and His disciples of sin for they had eating “with unwashen hands.”
Listen to Jesus’ reply to them –
Mark 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 turned the accusation around and used it to address their sins in the light of God’s word, then 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.
Jesus openly exposed how what was once founded upon the oracles of God, they had corrupted and thus reduced to a powerless, man centered religion. In their vain confidence they were now guilty of taking the Lord’s name in vain, by proclaiming to be the holy people of God, yet all the while casting His words away from them. If you really stop and think about it, this is really not too different from many “Christians” nowadays that likewise are professing to be followers of God. Regardless of all their talk about God and being the children of Abraham, God’s chosen people, they were no longer pursuing God or even trying to draw closer to Him. Therefore, Jesus rebukes them as those who’s “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.
Matthew 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!
With hearts turned away from the Lord, they were only dedicated to themselves. No longer seeking God’s Kingdom or glory. Forgetting the things afar off, they became nearsighted, their were only concern was serving their own selves, and building each other up in their own eyes. No longer mindful of eternal treasures in heaven, their focus was reduced to whatever they could get now through their religious traditions, and so they caused the light that was within them, of which they boasted great confidence in as elevated teachers of the law, to become nothing more than a great blinding darkness. Such is the end of all prideful and covetous men who think they see clearly.
Matthew 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 from the righteous precept of true faith working by love, they were now making void the fifth commandment.
Exodus 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 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.” For now instead of encouraging men that they ought to be providing for their own family and aging parents, these greedy hypocrites actually created a religious way to excuse their followers from their godly obligations; thus permitting them to selfishly use their wealth for themselves as long as sufficient gifts were being made, and was ultimately going to be left to these blind guides.
But now, as the Apostle John said, the fullness of time has come and Jesus begins His ministry at the celebration of the greatest prophetic sacrament between a man and a woman, a wedding feast in Cana. For through marriage, husbands and wives are given what was denied to the angels, the privilege and responsibility to adorn the Gospel of God our Savor. For marriage is a holy covenant and union design to represent God’s ultimate plan for those who love Him. As husbands take unto themselves their own wives to love, provide for and to protect as weaker vessels, they reflect to the world how Christ so loved His church. Wives likewise by loving and submitting to their own husbands, present what the church should unto Christ, taking the name of thereof 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, union with Christ, wine, our atonement, a celebration, 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’s crucifixion where they took and gave unto Him 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, as one might readily think of vinegar off the store shelf. This was soured wine which was permitted to turn into vinegar and was past the stage of being “good wine” such as was served at the wedding of Cana. This was neglected wine. Note the description given in Numbers-
Numbers 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, showing they had rejected His Gospel of the Kingdom simply because it threaten their own. They neglecting His gift of prophetic purification, they gave it back to Him soured by their rejection of both Him and His words, choosing rather to cling to their own vain traditions. They were doing just as Jesus said , filling up the measure of their fathers.
Matthew 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?
Yet this “vinegar” was given to Jesus, “That the scripture might be fulfilled.” That scripture is found in Psalm 69 –
Psalm 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 dwell upon the severity of God’s righteous judgment, tending to only want to see His mercy and forgiveness. However, we must consider the whole council of God, for only by knowing the terror of the Lord can we hope to successfully labor to persuade men to repent. God is not mocked, each will all reap what they have sown . . . and so therefore the judgment was prophetically pronounced upon those who crucified Him.
Psalm 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 taken these following words of Jesus as being directed to the people and the Jewish rulers, as a relieving them of their guilt and not laying their sin to their account.
Luke 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 in 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 too need to vigilant to guard our own hearts, lest these reproofs of scriptures should ever 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 were not being forgiven, they were being held accountable with their names being “blotted out of the book of the living, and not left written in with the righteous. For one cannot partake of Christ and then go on continuing to willfully sin against Him. That is not to deny we all will have moments of failure due to the violence of sudden temptation, or because we are ignorant of God’s perfect will. But confession and repentence upon understanding our sin assures us God’s mercy of forgiveness if we will so 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-
1 Corinthians 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 we can learn through the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and His first miracle. The condemnation and discarding of vain traditions contrasted with the witness of of a promised wedding feast to which all have been bidden to come. All made possible through an abounding 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 the 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. Therefore, it is possible now for our Holy God to come and dwell in us, filling us with His Spirit, and impart the power of His seed of life whereby we are born again, His word.
1 Peter 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.