Cheers! This is the hallmark of the holidays; the quintessential salutation followed by the clink of wine glasses raised in unison. The crystal stemware held up against the festive room lights reflect tiny rainbows caught within the patterns of the cut glass. People voice their genuine well-wishes to extend hopes for health and prosperity to others, and partygoers sip their favorite wine to culminate the toast.
Wine-drinking, toasts and merriment are conventional features of grand occasions like weddings or private settings among family and friends. The fruit of the vine adds a timeless cultural ambiance that speaks of enjoyment, relationships, and hospitality.
Such was the case at a wedding in Cana of Galilee according to the Book of John Chapter 2. Jesus, His mother, Mary, and the Disciples were among the welcomed guests in attendance. The festivities were in full swing until Mary noticed that all the wine was gone. She turned to Jesus and told Him to intervene. “They have no wine.” She said. (John 2:3)
Notably, this event was the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. A crucial pivot took place when Jesus disowned her by saying to her, “Woman, what do I have to do with you?” (vs 4) He then referred to His eventual crucifixion. “My hour has not yet come.” (vs 4) A bewildered Mary submitted to the rebuke and accepted the lordship that He had asserted. She told the surrounding servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (vs 5)
Jesus was now free from human parental constraints. He saw the stone waterpots in the home used for Jewish purification rites and told the servants to fill them with water. (vs 7) Then He directed them to draw some of the water out and take it to the headwaiter. By the time the water reached the head table, it miraculously turned into wine.
Without knowing where the wine came from, the headwaiter gave the bridegroom a compliment on his remarkable hospitality. “Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drink freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.” (vs 10) In other words, most hosts serve the inferior wine after guests are feeling good from the better wine and won’t care. But this host saved the best wine for the latter part of the gala.
Bible commentary says that the better wine served at the end of the wedding feast signified the New Covenant that Jesus came to establish. As a result of this first miracle, the Disciples believed in Jesus and God’s power was manifested. This is all wonderful, but I believe there is much more to this scene, especially if you ask the question, “Why was this first miracle so discreet?”
For the rest of His ministry recorded in the Book of John, Jesus referred to Himself as the sole emissary of Heaven acting upon the explicit will of God the Father. “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.’” (John 4:34) This meant that there was nothing random about the ministry of Jesus. His actions were deliberate and precise, perfectly ordered by God the Father and empowered by God the Spirit. The life and ministry of Jesus was all about heavenly disclosure—revealing God to man. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) At long last, the invisible unseen God could be seen and known in Jesus.
Now let’s look back with a wider lens at the wedding at Cana. Jesus was a key guest who used His supernatural power to make sure that the wedding feast was a success. This was where His ministry began, but it continues in the Book of Revelation where He is described as the Bridegroom who is glorified beyond all measure! “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
God the Father used the wedding at Cana to show us a picture of the ultimate wedding feast where Jesus is married to His people and they are forever united. He saved the best wine for last. The New Covenant of grace through faith enables us to enjoy His gripping presence, love, joy, peace, and security forever. The first miracle proves the incredible miracle of God’s saving power. “Bless are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9) The wedding at Cana was a picture of the celebration of all celebrations and the reason for our hope and joy now.
The words of the Apostle Paul ring out with the cadence of a toast as he looks ahead to this same glorious scene. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18) To this I raise my glass along with well-wishes and say, “Cheers!”