The first recorded miracle of Jesus happened at a wedding, in Cana near Nazareth, where Christ grew up. Just as the reception reached full swing, the wine ran out, as we read in John 2.
Mary turned to her Son for help: “They have no wine,” she said. It was something of a prayer really. Mary believed that the baby born to her in Bethlehem was who the angel Gabriel told her He would be — the Son of God, the Savior of the world. He was born to save, and here she asks Jesus to save the party.
His first response seemed dismissive — “What does this have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” Undeterred, Mary instructed the serving staff to listen to Jesus: “Whatever He says to you, do it.” This is a bold statement of faith; Mary trusted that the heart of the Son would not let Him refuse her. And, she knew He would not let the wedding celebration go bad.
And she was right.
Jesus told the servants to fill six water pots with water and soon there was wine where there had been none. The servants followed His orders, filling the pots to the brim, drawing out some and taking it to the party director for him to taste. What he tasted was the best wine of the day.
Mary asked, Jesus answered. Water became wine.
Two Manners of Life
This Bible account paints a picture with its words. It delineates two real manners of life — the water life and the wine life, the natural life and the spiritual life.
Water is a basic element of survival. Human beings cannot go very long without it. Dehydration is a swift and deadly condition. Wine is different. It possesses a substance and carries an effect. There is a sweetness and potency present that is not in water.
Water flows freely — and must, lest it grow stagnant and undrinkable. Wine goes into bottles or skins. It must be set aside in stillness for a season of time to become what it is to be.
Relationship is like water to people; we all need connection, we need family and friends. Those who choose to hide away from these needs wind up distorted. In Genesis 2:18, we read that God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” He made woman for the man. He established life and love. People were made to live and to live in union and communion based on love.
Marriage represents the wine of relationship. A man takes a wife and his natural affections are given definition. A frame of reference is put into place. There is structure and form to families. Ceremony and certification are significant parts of the process.
Moment of Declaration
The wedding celebrates a man and a woman giving context to their relationship. It is a joyful moment of justice. A legal declaration is consummated to pronounce the couple’s status as one soul, one mind, and one body. It is a beginning that God designed to have no end.
The act of marriage speaks to two communities. It speaks to all that we can see and know and also to what is unseen and little known — the host of unseen beings who love to engage themselves with the human element.The wedding celebrates a man and a woman giving context to their relationship. Click To Tweet
The emotion and gravity surrounding a marriage says something to us about God and HIs love for people. Christ came to give His life, to lay it down for HIs Bride. He is the Bridegroom from Heaven. Throughout the Scriptures, the Bride of Christ is defined as His Church. This is a reference not to any particular organization or denomination, but to all people who hear His call to come unto Him and believe upon Him.
Anyone who has been involved with planning a wedding has experienced chaos. The run up to the “Big Day” features a variety of flare-ups, dust-ups, and screw-ups. It’s a messy time. Emotions are raw. Tempers get out of control. Words, sometimes hurtful words, are spoken.
Then comes the moment when the bride arrives at the church. She comes into the room beaming and bejeweled, ready to walk to the altar where her groom awaits. The congregation rises to its feet. Smiles, sighs, tears fill the place. All is bright and beautiful.
In the bigger picture, the Church is stumbling through the mess of her wedding preparation. Trials, troubles, and tribulations challenge her. Fractures, failures, and frustrations are a regular part of Church life. And, the world relishes any opportunity to point out her faults.
One day, however, the Church, the Bride, shall stand — bright and beautiful — before Christ. She will enter into an everlasting honeymoon of life in eternity.
Life in the natural promises to be full of chaos; just as water can be still or it can be raging. Christ calls people everywhere to something higher — to the wine, to a deep relationship with Him, to a union that sparkles and delights.
The Beginnings of a Wonderful Story
In the third chapter of John’s gospel, Christ speaks of being born of the water and being born of the Spirit. Those who believe on Him are born of the Spirit and become the Bride. They join, in union, as His Church. He has invited all to come to Him and gives His all for each of us.
Couples stand before us. We see beginnings; we witness the knot as it is tied. We expect to watch a wonderful story unfold, a timeless sequence of remarkable moments — a series of times where the wine gets uncorked so to speak. There will be births and birthdays and, by God’s grace, many, many anniversaries.
Wedding days point to the great day that Christ will celebrate with us the precious moment of gathering and joy, followed by a grand supper. There and then, we will shout together to Him: “Thank God for life and Praise Him forever for love.”
For more on the great act of marriage and its high purpose in life, check out “The Cross and Silly Doves,” a message from Thomas Schaller, pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.