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The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Manmin News   No. 115
March 30, 2008

"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there ... This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him" (John 2:1-11).

Let us today delve into the first sign Jesus manifested – turning water into wine – at a wedding banquet in Cana of Galilee, and the spiritual significance embedded in the manifestation.

1. The Providence of Salvation Embedded in Jesus' First Sign Manifested

John 1:14 tells us, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." Here, "the Word" refers to God and also to His Son Jesus.
While Jesus is the Son of God, He was born of the Virgin Mary in this world through the Holy Spirit and until He was 30 years of age, He prepared Himself for the work of the Messiah while living among and mingling with ordinary people. Jesus then began His public ministry as the Son of God and the Messiah to deliver all mankind. Jesus' manifestation of the first sign of turning water into wine at a wedding banquet in Cana was the event that signaled the beginning of His public ministry.
Many people today misunderstand that Jesus turned water into wine in celebration of the wedding of the people in this world. However, if this were the first manifestation of Jesus' sign after 30 years of preparation and took place at the onset of His public ministry, the event itself must carry significance.
Embedded in this manifestation of the sign is the providence of salvation of mankind, from the teaching of God's word and leading people to believe in it, to His death on the cross.

2. The Providence of Jesus' Attendance in the Wedding in Cana

"Cana of Galilee" symbolizes the world and "the wedding" signifies the state in which the world is drenched in sin and evil, indulging in eating, drinking, and getting drunk. Eating, drinking, and getting drunk without restraint at a wedding refers to the last days during which the enemy devil, ruler of the world, tempts people and causes them to become infatuated with the world in accordance with of sinful and evil attributes.
Why, then, did Jesus participate in worldly festivities? Jesus did not go to the wedding to partake in the debauchery of this world. He came into this world only to magnify God and save mankind. How could Jesus have embarked on His public ministry in pursuit of pleasure and manifest the sign to get those who were already heavily drunk become even more intoxicated? If Jesus manifested a sign at worldly festivities, there has to be God's providence deeply rooted in it.
Jesus' attendance in a wedding in Cana symbolizes the fact that the Son of God, who has nothing to do with sin, came into this world in flesh in order to save the sinners of this world.

3. Jesus Turns Water into Wine According to Mary's Faith

In John 2:3, we find that while the wedding festivities were in full swing, the wine had run out. Feeling terrible and helpless, Mary approaches Jesus and tells Him, "They have no wine." As she was pregnant with Jesus by the Holy Spirit and looked after Him, Mary knew Jesus had power.
Even though Jesus is the Son of God, in fleshly terms Mary was in the position of His "mother." For that reason, during the first three decades of His life, Jesus was faithful in all His household and kept His duties as a son. Yet, Jesus' attitude at this particular wedding was quite different. In the following verse we read, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come." Why does Jesus refer to Mary as "woman" here? As Jesus had begun His public ministry as the Son of God and the Messiah, He used that word explicitly to remind Mary that she was to no longer consider or treat Jesus as her "son."
Jesus' question, "What does that have to do with us?" signifies that Jesus has nothing to do with the worldly people's drinking and getting drunk. Lastly, by "My hour has not yet come," Jesus is telling us that the time for Him to fulfill the providence of salvation by crucifixion had not yet arrived.
Although Jesus replied that He had nothing to do with the world's debauchery in the spiritual sense, Mary still believed that Jesus would do something to assist the host embarrassed before countless guests. That is why she told the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it" (John 2:5).
When Mary displayed her faith to the end, Jesus manifested a sign. Now, there were six stone waterpots at the site of the wedding and when Jesus had the servants fill the waterpots with water and draw some out. When the waterpots were brought to the headwaiter, the water had turned into wine (John 2:6-9).
After the headwaiter tasted the new wine, he called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now" (John 2:10). The fact that Jesus produced wine does not mean that He wanted people to drink more and indulge in greater debauchery. The wine Jesus made was of ingredients that would not lead people to become drunk.

4. The Spiritual Significance in Jesus' Manifestation of Turning Water into Wine

Understanding the spiritual significance of the manifestation of this particular sign requires us to be familiar with the significance of "water" and "wine" as found in the Bible. Here, "water" signifies the body of Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 4:14), and "wine" symbolizes the blood of Jesus who saved all sinners.
What, then, is the spiritual significance of Jesus' turning water into wine and having people drink it? It symbolizes that God's word came into this world in flesh, Jesus shed His blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and anyone who believes in it and accepts Him reaches salvation.
Just as people who drank the new wine rejoiced in "the good wine," those whose sins have been forgiven by the blood of the Lord rejoice from the heart. God's providence of salvation by which He would forgive the sins of mankind, sanctify them with His Word, and lead them to heaven filled with joy and gratitude was expressed through Jesus' manifestation of the first sign of His public ministry.

5. The Meaning of John 2:11

In John 2:11 we read, "This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him." The fact that Jesus' disciples believed in Him through the glory manifested by the first sign symbolizes the providence of God that was to proceed and be accomplished.
In Matthew 12:38-40 is a scene in which some of the scribes and the Pharisees approach Jesus and ask Him to show them a sign. In response, Jesus says, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Just as Jonah ended up in Sheol referred to as 'Hades" and "the Upper Grave" in the Bible as a result of his disobedience to the command of God who had directed him to go to Nineveh, on account of the sins of mankind Jesus went down to the Grave and showed them the sign of resurrection after three days and three nights.
To say that the disciples believed in Jesus' manifestation of turning water into wine as the same as Jonah's sign does not mean that they began believing the moment water turned into wine. Everything from Jesus' carrying of the cross to His resurrection in three days is implied in this.
In other words, only when His disciples saw the resurrected Jesus as the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Philippians 2:9-11) could they possess true faith.
After experiencing and witnessing Jesus' resurrection, the disciples could understand and believe in all that Jesus had told them. The disciples had fled away from those who persecuted them; now, they could risk their lives, display the kind and magnitude of faith of which this world was not worthy, and die martyrs' death.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering the love of our Lord who turned water into wine, may each of you always be filled with the Holy Spirit, be the salt and the light of this world, and partake in the glory of resurrection, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I pray!




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