Grace in Marriage

Notes for June 3, 2018
John 2: 1-11

Biblical Background

  • On the third day: This beginning of the passage “on the third day” in reference to the wedding celebration could be a hint foreshadowing Jesus’ promise in John 2:19 that the resurrection will occur after three days. This is probably not referring to the third day of the week as in Jewish culture, virgins were married on the 4th day of the week and widows on the 5th day of the week.

  • Cana: This village would have been near to Jesus’ home town of Nazareth, thus the invitation to come to a wedding of friends or relatives of Jesus’ family.

  • Weddings in 1st century Jewish culture: Weddings were large celebrations and lasted 7 days. It was common to invite dignitaries and rabbis to such events.

  • Running out of wine: It would be scandalous for the host of the wedding to not provide enough wine for the event – for the full seven days. So, Jesus’ miracles helps this family avoid a social gaffe.

  • Wedding gifts: Fortunately for the hosts of a wedding, one of the social responsibilities was for the guests to provide wedding gifts (money, valuables, presents) that could help defray the overall cost of the wedding. In this case, Mary notices the problem and helps defray some of the expenses through her son’s miracle.

  • “Woman”: This would have been comparable to our polite, “Mam”. It was a sign of respect, but not necessarily a term one would commonly use with your mom.

  • What does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come: Jesus’ hour is a reference to the future when he will be crucified and pay the penalty for our sin. So, Jesus knows that when the miracles begin, his journey to the cross begins. Thus, he let’s his mom know that this is an important point of demarcation.

  • Mary is persistent: Just as many characters in the Old Testament (Jacob, Moses, and others) Mary is persistent in asking God for a miracle. She is demonstrating strong faith in Jesus’ ability to do this miracle.

  • Stone Jars: These large stone jars were large enough to fill a Jewish “Mikvah” the pool where people could go to for ceremonial cleansing and purification. There may be some symbolism here in that these large purification jars are providing wine – the symbol of Jesus’ blood in the future that purifies us from sin. Stone jars were also more sanitary than other types of ceramic jars for example.

  • Master of the banquet: this was a position of honor bestowed on someone. One of their duties was to distribute the wine in quantities of sufficiency to provide refreshment, but not so much as to get people inebriated.

  • Best wine normally first: After drinking wine, one’s palate is desensitized so that one doesn’t discern as many notes in the wine. Thus, the best wine was normally served first. In this case, Jesus’ miraculous wine is better than the finest wine available for the wedding. Additional punctuation on the power of the miracle.

  • Jesus’ first sign: Just as Moses’ first sign introduced his ministry to the children of Israel and (the turning of water into blood), so Jesus’ first signal that he has begun his ministry is the turning of water into wine – which in the Lord’s Supper would symbolize the blood of Jesus.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why would the writer, John, begin this narrative with the expression, “on the third day”?

  2. Why were Mary, Jesus and disciples attending a wedding?

  3. What is the importance of the wedding celebration in biblical culture? What do you know about Jewish weddings in Jesus’ day? How about today?

  4. What do we learn about Jesus and his mother, Mary, and their relationship from this story?

  5. Jesus hadn’t yet done any miracles, why do you think Mary approaches him now?

  6. How do you interpret the dialogue between Jesus and Mary? What is going on here?

  7. What is significant about Jesus having water poured into what were probably ceremonial cleansing stone jars?

  8. Can you think of other biblical stories in which a miracle with water was performed in the Old Testament? How might that be a foreshadowing of what Jesus does here?

  9. How do you think the servants felt about this when Jesus asked them to take the water to the host?

  10. How did the host feel when he tasted the water turned into wine?

  11. How might the quality and the quantity of the wine reflect the character of Jesus?

  12. Why did Jesus’ first miracle take place at a celebration of a wedding?

  13. What did the miracle reveal? Why is this important?

  14. What was the response of Jesus’ disciples to this miracle?

  15. In what ways have you experienced the joy and celebration of Jesus in your life? What do you think he rejoices about in your life? In the life of our church?

  16. How can we give extravagantly and generously to help others celebrate the joys of life?