The wedding at Cana as pointing to the crucifixion and the consummation of our Life of Christ. Read on for the details.
Jesus blesses marriage. He goes to the wedding at Cana, and helps out. No big surprise there. First, Jesus is a helping sort of guy. Second, as the only begotten son of God, Jesus was there when marriage was instituted. When God formed man out of the dust of the ground, it says “Then God said, let US make man in OUR image”. Then it says that no suitable helper was found for Adam, and God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” and so God made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. But we can not understand this as meaning that God created man, figured that would be enough, and then thought, you know, something is still missing, I better fix this. No, God planned from the beginning to create man and woman, and to place them together in the sate of holy matrimony. When God formed the animals, he made male and female for each kind. But he did not create marriage for the animals. For cattle, one bull is enough. For Elk, the biggest and strongest gets the girls, while the lesser males hang out around the edges, hoping for whatever is left. Dogs and Cats just get together with whichever other animals are around.
But for people, there is marriage. God intended it this way. He planned it from the beginning. The creation account itself tells us that the marriage relationship is different. God did not just say, “Let there be” he formed Adam from the dust of the ground, and formed Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. So that, when man and woman come together, it is a reflection of the relationship between God and his people. It is this loving marriage relationship that then bears fruit, and creates a new life. That’s how God intended for it to be. Of course, we think we can be like God, and we can engineer our own relationships however we see fit. And so we live in a world with relations outside of marriage, and divorce, and whatever other inventions people come up with to abuse the state of marriage – now social engineers are throwing around terms like “Monogamish” “Throuple” and suggesting that we should just start marriages with a time limit to ease in ending it. When marriage is treated as a do-it-yourself contract between two people that can be whatever they want, instead of the foundation of society, created by God for the good of the community and the raising of children, then we end up with a society that falls apart.
Since we began this great social experiment of redefining marriage some fifty years ago, the social science has all been one sided. The number one indicator for not growing up in poverty is not education, or where you live, or race, it’s whether father and mother of the child are married to each other. The best way to avoid domestic abuse – marriage. The best way to avoid divorce – not cohabitating before the I do’s. The most certain indicator of a child who will grow up to be in prison? No father in the home. Study after study after study shows that what God says in his word is true. The man and woman, united in a one flesh relationship till death do us part, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, leads to the greatest happiness and success in this world.
We try and change the rules. We want to do what we want. And we suffer for it. And then we blame God for bringing this pain and suffering on us. But that’s not how it was supposed to be – anymore than a world of death was how it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be a world of life. God blessing humanity, love between the man and the woman producing life, and death nowhere to be seen.
We knew better. We could be like God, if only he’d get out of our way. We could do a better job of things. We can set it up however we want, and it will work just fine. But that’s a recipe for death. And that’s where we find ourselves. In a world of broken relationships, and death.
Which is why Jesus – the only begotten son of God, had to come into the world. Which is why we find him, not at the right hand of the father, enthroned in glory and surrounded by legions of angels, but at a wedding with his disciples. And it’s a wedding with a problem.
We think weddings are a big deal these days. But back then, a wedding lasting a week. Seven days of feasting, rejoicing. People coming and going. The party continuing. Today, if the wedding ran out of food or wine, it would be embarrassing. In Jesus day, there was a legal commitment on the part of the groom. If people left without sufficient food or wine, the groom could be in legal trouble. The wedding at Cana was more than just an slight embarrassment. It was a wedding that was going nowhere.
And so, Jesus mother comes to him and says, “They have no wine.” It’s over. Until Jesus fixes it. He takes on the responsibility of the groom. And while the servants know who fixed things, the groom, the guests, even the master of the feast, they all have no idea what’s going on. They think everything is just as it was. But Jesus has become the stand in groom. Silently doing what the groom was supposed to do, making sure that everything that went wrong is now ok.
God makes marriage as a picture of himself and his people. Jesus is fixing marriage – standing in the place of the negligent groom of this world, and making marriage go. He is restoring marriage – not just this one marriage in Cana – but fixing the marriage between God and his people. That is, he has come to redeem his people.
And there’s all sorts of hints from John that this is really Jesus saying, “I’m taking care of it. I’m fixing this world.” There are only two spots in John where Jesus mother shows up – here and at the cross. On both occasions we hear about Jesus hour – now it has not come, But at the cross it has come. Jesus hour is the hour of the cross.
The glory of Jesus – which we are told was shown here – revealed to the disciples – is the cross. That’s his hour, and that’s the time when the Father glorifies the son. Jesus himself says so. “Father the hour has come, glorify your son that your son may glorify you.”
Jesus true glory is not that he changed water to wine, or healed people. Jesus true glory is that he is the Son of God come into the world to save sinners. To save us for all the ways we try and do it ourselves, whether in our marriage and home life, whether in the church or our jobs, our friendships or wherever. Whether in our lust, or pride, or greed, or anger. When we are unkind and unloving toward others, when we turn away from God and his providing hand, and turn to our own ideas and thoughts and ambitions. When we doubt that what God has given is truly enough. When we think that if only God would let us do it our way, rather than all the stinky rules in his law. That’s when we need Jesus to come and fix it. To step up and take charge of things. Even though the world doesn’t see it that way. The world doesn’t know that Jesus came to fix things. The world still sees a place where humanity can do better than God can.
The world looks at the good the church does and assumes it comes from some other place. But the servants of God know – this is how God fixes things. The love shown to us through Jesus death and resurrection. The love we show to others in Jesus name.
Not love as gooey emotion, but love as the hard work of helping others, through our jobs, our families, our communities. Anywhere we encounter our neighbor in need. Like Jesus, we are given opportunities to show God’s love. Not because we are so great and perfect, but because Jesus was perfect on our behalf. Because he paid the penalty, he recreated creation, he took the sin away. He takes your sin away. He gives you life and salvation and the wine of feasting instead of the sorrow and death your sin have brought on you. That’s Jesus work. To give you life and bring you into his kingdom. And when he reveals his glory in acts of loving service, we, like the disciples, are strengthened in faith toward him. He is our savior.