Wine for the Wedding Feast

“Wine for the Wedding Feast”
A reflection on John 2:1-11
©️2023 by Gloria M. Chang

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

John 2:1-11

Six Jars and the Sabbath

Mosaic icon of the Wedding at Cana

In the Hebrew Scriptures, seven is the number of perfection and Sabbath rest. The connection between seven (sheba) and Sabbath (shabath) arises from the creation account in Genesis:

God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.

Genesis 2:3

The goal of creation and salvation history is to arrive at the Promised Land of Sabbath rest:

Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. And whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:9-10

At the wedding feast at Cana, the six ceremonial jars may be symbolically interpreted as the six days of creation before the Sabbath rest. They may also point to the gift of the Mosaic Law, which paved the way for the coming of the Messiah and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Alternatively, many Scripture scholars simply interpret the six jars in this account as literal and historical. When history and symbol merge in divine revelation, the artistry of the divine author is revealed.

Wine, Wedding, and Sabbath

Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana bursts with Messianic joy. Wine, associated in Jewish culture with marriage and the Sabbath, flowed in abundance at the wedding feast at Cana. As Rabbi Maurice Lamm writes, “Marriage is very similar to the Sabbath. Both are covenantal, reciprocal love relationships.”

Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever.

Exodus 31:16 (ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 (ESV)

Mystic Wine

Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath and Bridegroom of Israel, transforms the blessed water of the law into the wine of divinizing grace in the nuptial union of divinity and humanity. At the wedding feast of the Lamb, the mystic wine foretold by the prophets shall cascade like streams on the mountain of paradise.

On that day
the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills flow with milk,
All the streams of Judah
will flow with water.
A spring will rise from the house of the Lord,
watering the Valley of Shittim.

Joel 4(3):18

Six stone water jars—creation in expectation—
Bubbled with wine at a wedding celebration.

Reference “Wine at the Jewish Wedding.” @Chabad, 26 June 2007,

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