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John 2:1-11 1
1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Background 2

Cana of Galilee is so called to distinguish it from Cana in Coelo-Syria. It was a village very close to Nazareth. One of the Coptic 3 gospels tells us that Mary was a sister of the bridegroom’s mother. There is an early set of Prefaces to the books of the New Testament called the Monarchian Prefaces 4 which tell us that the bridegroom was no other than John himself, and that his mother was Salome, the sister of Mary. We do not know whether these extra details are true or not, but the story is so vividly told that it is clearly an eye-witness account.

There is no mention of Joseph. The explanation most probably is that by this time Joseph was dead. It would seem that Joseph died quite soon after of Jesus’s brothers and sisters, and that the reason why Jesus spent eighteen long years in Nazareth was that he had to take upon himself the support of his mother and his family. It was only when his younger brothers and sisters were able to look after themselves that he left home.

The wedding festivities lasted far more than one day. The wedding ceremony itself took place late in the evening, after a feast. After the ceremony the young couple were conducted to their new home. By that time it was dark and they were conducted through the village streets by the light of flaming torches and with a canopy over their heads. They were taken by as long a route as possible so that as many people as possible would have the opportunity to wish them well. But a newly married couple did not go away for their honeymoon; they stayed at home; and for a week they kept open house. They wore crowns and dressed in their bridal robes. They were treated like a king and queen, were actually addressed as king and queen, and their word was law.

It was in a happy time like this that Jesus gladly shared. But something went wrong. It is likely that the coming of Jesus caused something of a problem. He had been invited to the feast, but he had arrived not alone but with five disciples. Five extra people may well have caused complications. Five unexpected guests might provide any festival with a problem, and the wine went more quickly than expected.

For a Jewish feast wine was essential. “Without wine,” said the Rabbis, “there is no joy.” It was not that people were drunken, but in the East wine was an essential. Drunkenness was in fact a great disgrace, and they actually drank their wine in a mixture composed of two parts of wine to three parts of water. At any time the failure of provisions would have been a problem, for hospitality in the East is a sacred duty; but for the provisions to fail at a wedding would be a terrible humiliation for the bride and the bridegroom.

So Mary came to Jesus to tell him that it was so. The King James Version translation of Jesus’ reply makes it sound very discourteous. It makes him say: “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” That is indeed a translation of the words, but it does not in any way give the tone. The phrase, “What have I to do with thee?” was a common conversational phrase. When it was uttered angrily and sharply it did indicate complete disagreement and reproach, but when it was spoken gently it indicated not so much reproach but misunderstanding. It means: “Don’t worry; you don’t quite understand what is going on; leave things to me, and I will settle them in my own way.” Jesus was simply telling Mary to leave things to him, that he would have his own way of dealing with the situation. The word woman (gunai) is also misleading. It sounds to us very rough and abrupt. But it is the same word as Jesus used on the Cross to address Mary as he left her to the care of John (John 19:26).

John was writing his gospel for Greeks and so he explains that these jars were there to provide water for the purifying ceremonies of the Jews. Water was required for two purposes. First, it was required for cleansing the feet on entry to the house. Second, it was required for the handwashing. John commanded that the jars should be filled to the brim. John mentions that point to make it clear that nothing else but water was put into them. The head-waiter was responsible for the seating of the guests and the correct running of the feast. When he tasted the water which had become wine he was astonished. He called the bridegroom–it was the bridegroom’s parents who were responsible for the feast–and spoke jestingly. “Most people,” he said, “serve the good wine first; and then, when the guests have drunk a good deal, and their palates are dulled and they are not in much of a condition to appreciate what they are drinking, they serve the inferior wine, but you have kept the best until now.”

So it was at a village girl’s wedding in a Galilean village that Jesus first showed his glory; and it was there that His disciples caught another dazzling glimpse of what He was. The amount of wine that Jesus produces may seem like a humorous exaggeration to us, but this exaggerated amount is precisely why John introduces Jesus’ public acts with this story. God’s presence now fills the world “up to the brim.” As Jesus’ first public act, the changing of water to wine symbolizes the “fullness we have all received” (1:16) through Jesus’ presence in the world.

Items for Discussion

  • What would you say this miracle is all about? See John 1:16-18 for a possible answer
  • How do you choose to introduce yourself to people for the first time?
  • Why do you think that Jesus would use this simple family gathering to introduce Himself to us?
    • Think about these themes: wine, hospitality, parental obedience, compassion for others, etc.
  • What makes this miracle so unique? 5

 

Luke 17:21
21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

Background

The original question posed by the Pharisees was, “When is the Kingdom of God coming?” (verse 20). The kingdom of God was among the Jews or was it was a spiritual kingdom, set up in the heart by the power of God? We are asked to observe how it had been with sinners formerly, and in what state the judgments of God, which they had been warned of, found them. Here is shown what a dreadful surprise this destruction will be to the secure and sensual pleasures of men when the Son of man is actually revealed to them all. Christ came to destroy the Jewish nation, not by the Roman armies, but to offer the world God’s saving grace through Himself.

This was not a mystical revelation by Jesus that in some seed form, the Kingdom of God is within everyone in a New Age sense. After all, Jesus would not have told Pharisees that the kingdom of God was within them. The statement of Jesus called attention to Himself, not to man. Like many today, the Pharisees said they wanted the Kingdom of God to come; but you can’t want the Kingdom and reject the King. “The Pharisees asked Him when the Kingdom of God would appear, while it was right in their midst because the King Himself was there.”

Items for Discussion

  • What does the term “Kingdom of God” mean to you?
  • How would you explain the statement, the reign of God is “in the heart.” 6
  • What cautions are Jesus giving us with regard to His return someday? (verses 22-23)
  • What parts of the Kingdom are with us now and what parts do you expect will come later?
  • How do you feel about the statement, “there is no salvation but through Jesus Christ?”

Discussion Challenge

  • What are the best ways to help people get to know who Jesus is?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/john-2.html
  3. Coptic Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the largest Christian church in Egypt. They trace their founding to St. Mark, who has traditionally been believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark; Mark is credited with converting the Copts, who were native Egyptians, to Christianity.
  4. http://earlychristianwritings.com/monarchianprologues.html
  5. No one actually saw it. Nor was there a thunder clap to herald the event. God’s glory is not what humans expect it to be. His glory is not for mere display, but has the purpose to fulfill His service to his creation.
  6. It does not come with pomp and splendor, like the reign of temporal kings, merely to control the external “actions” and strike the senses of people with awe, but it reigns in the heart by the law of God; it sets up its dominion over the passions, and brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
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