Social media will be flooded this week with photos of flowers and chocolates and an uptick in engagement announcements. I’ve put in my fair share of time and hard-earned cash celebrating with my friends at their weddings. But I’ll tell you, for the single person, weddings can be hard—weddings point out some of the many ways that my heart sins.
- Greed: I complain about buying another gift.
- Gluttony: Cake. That is all.
- Envy: I choose not to rejoice with those who rejoice, but want, instead, that joy for myself.
And when I get asked to be in the wedding? Turquoise sateen dresses designed for a skinny 18-year old prom queen? Sure, because I love you. Bouquet toss? Forget it! Not a chance! I’ve caught three, and they don’t work.
In spite of my discomfort with these celebrations, one of my favorite passages in the Gospels is John 2, where Jesus turns water into wine—at a wedding. Over the years, I have heard a great deal of violence done to this passage. People have preached about parenting, alcohol abstinence, and Catholicism, none of which are actually the point of this passage.
We have to first stop and think about why John is writing. This now elderly Apostle is writing to second generation believers, those who did not walk with Jesus, who didn’t see Him preform His miracles. And John says very specifically why he wrote: that the readers might believe, but not just believe, that they would believe with an active obedience that demonstrated their love. He writes:
These things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name.John 20:31
Think about this wedding here. It could have been quite lavish, perhaps even lasting a week. Typically, the groom’s family would pay for the expenses, and running out of food or drink would have been utterly embarrassing. Jesus’ mother knows that He can do something about the ensuing mortification for the family, so she pulls the oldest mom-trick in the book: “Jesus, you should take care of this… Here, you there, do whatever He tells you to.”
And Jesus tells her that His hour has not yet come. As singles, we can gain great comfort from this. His hour has not come. Jesus has an hour, a timeline, and not only is it set, but He has been in control of it since before the foundations of the world. He is marching to Jerusalem to die and is in utter control of not just the how, but the when.
He controls the timeline. I don’t know about you, but as a single, I have received many admonitions that this is “just a season.” The metaphor of seasons doesn’t always work for the unmarried—Like Narnia, it may always be winter. You may be wondering—and hoping and praying– that the season is every going to change. But know this: we can trust His timeline. He is in control.
The second element that is obvious in this passage is that Jesus brought the celebration back to this wedding. Too often, we think of God some sort of a cosmic kill-joy. He is not opposed to mirth and gladness—here He even supplies it. Who made our hearts to laugh in the first place? As a matter of fact, Jesus said that he came to bring life, and not just life, but abundant life. Overflowing life. Jesus made wine from the water—fine wine, and I’ll wager, that it was perfect. This was no grape flavored cool aid—He brought excellent abundance and gladness to this celebration.
In this desert context, water was LIFE! Practically, If you found water, you would build your city by it and plan your life around it. Water in the Scriptures was representative of God’s work. Water was used by God to punish those who worked against Him. Think: Noah and the Flood, Pharaoh and the chariots, Sisera and the battle of Barak and Deborah. Water was also evidence of God’s provision: Genesis 2 records that from the Garden of Eden flowed water to prosper the Garden. Moses struck the rock in the Wilderness, and God sent forth water. And Isaiah 12.3 proclaims that one day in the future, God’s people would “Joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation.”
In John 4, just a short time after this wedding, Jesus sits down by a well and has a conversation with a Samaritan women, telling her, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.” (John 2: 13-14) There He is—the water of life.
At the wedding, Jesus took water, the water that had been set aside for purification rites, and He made it something more. He turned it from life-sustaining water to joy-giving wine. Wine is another thread that can be traced through the Scriptures. It was used in offerings to the Lord, was a blessing from God (Deut 7), and the overflowing vats spoke of God’s physical and spiritual provision for the people. God would provide it to bring cheer, seal covenants, bind up wounds, and bring healing.
What a gift Jesus brought to the wedding—physically and symbolically! I imagine the disciples and those who knew of the miracle were prompted to think of how God had used water and wine before and were made to rejoice–and wonder. He provided above and beyond for them, encouraging celebration in abundance. How much more can we trust Him to provide fully from His overflowing wells of salvation! He is not stingy in provision.
Additionally, we can also trust the future that Jesus has arranged for those who love Him. John records that Jesus did this miracle and that in doing so, Jesus revealed His glory to His disciples, and they believed in Him. He revealed His glory, but not all of it–not yet. This was a sliver of the glory that was to come.
This miracle was more than just an effort to keep his mother happy. Perhaps Jesus was thinking of His own wedding still in the future. Some years ago, Michael Card recorded a song based on this event in the life of Christ, and he sang:
So amidst the laughter and feasting
There sits Jesus full with the fun
He has made them wine because He is longing
For a wedding that's yet to come
In John 13-16, at the last Passover Jesus celebrated with his disciples before His death, Jesus served the four cups of wine and instituted, from the Passover seder, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Following this feast, they all went out to the Garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus prayed to His Father on behalf of those who would follow Him:
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with you where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation.”John 17:24
We read in Revelation 19:6-8 of that day that’s yet to come:
“Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself. She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.”Revelation 19:6-8
The wedding of Adam and Eve kicks off things in Genesis. Jesus begins His tour as Messiah by turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and the wedding of the Lamb and His Bride the church wraps up Revelation. THIS IS THE FUTURE—if you know Jesus. This is the glory that is to come with Jesus. Whatever the present holds, what a future is ours!
We have a good Savior who is in control of the timeline of our life, has given us abundant life now, and is eagerly waiting the wedding to His bride. And so we shall ever be with the Lord.
Oh, Happy Day!