The Water and the Wine- John 2:1-11

John 2:1-11 tells the account of the first miracle of the Lord in a wedding banquet in Cana of Galilee, where He turned water into wine.

Wedding in Cana by Paolo Veronese

In an article, I have read that there are four phases in the Jewish marriage ritual:

1. Matchmaking- We can see this in Genesis 24 when the servant of Abraham looked for a match for Isaac. At this point, the matchmaker and the father of the prospective bride arrange the dowry and prepare the statement of marriage vows.

2. Betrothal- If the man agrees to the match, they will arrange a dinner at the prospective bride’s house. They would bring the statement of marriage vows.  The man makes a marriage proposal by pouring wine into a glass and offers it to the woman. If she accepts the wine and drinks from the glass, she accepts the proposal. It would then start a one-year engagement period. Only a writ of divorce could nullify it. Mary and Joseph were in this period of betrothal when she has conceived the Lord Jesus. Then, the man would build a room for the wife in his father’s house but only the Father of the groom would decide when it would be finished.

3. Return of the groom & time alone together- When the groom’s father gives the nod, the groom and groomsmen set off to the bride’s house, usually unexpectedly at night, He would blow a ram’s horn before entering the house to fetch his bride with her bridesmaids. We can see this in Matthew 25, the Parable of the Ten Virgins. They watch and wait for the groom probably for several days, or weeks after he has completed the bridal chamber. The groom would take the bride to the chamber, with the wedding party accompanying them through the streets. The group waits as the bride and the groom spend time alone together. The “groom’s friend” and other witnesses wait for a signal from the groom (one source says it takes several minutes up to nearly an hour). The couple does not necessarily consummate, they just take the opportunity to be together for the first time. After the grooms’ signal, celebration begins.

4. Week of celebration- It is customary in this part of a Jewish wedding that the couple and their families would invite everyone who would want to celebrate with them. It is a joyous and festive atmosphere.

The account in our text has happened during the fourth phase: the weeklong festival of joy!

to be continued…

Image info: Painting by Veronese, Paolo- (b. 1528, Verona, d. 1588, Venezia) 1563,  Oil on canvas,  Musée du Louvre, Paris []

Rejoicing in Trials -Conclusion

Concluding Part

God loves you

Even the Lord went through suffering in both his humanity and deity in order to fulfill His Father’s purpose for Him and that is to save us and give us eternal life with Him. In remembrance of His victory, we too, can face our sufferings with joy, faith and patient endurance as we humbly pray because these are occasions for God to carry us through. May we all find comfort in the words written in Romans 8:31b-32, “If God is for us who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also freely give us all things?”

There is one thing we can see here. When Satan challenged God about Job [that Job was only worshiping God because He was prospering him, and once he experience suffering, he will curse God to His face], God was sure that Job will not disappoint Him. In Romans 9:33, “…whosoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed”. The Lord believes also in you, in us that we will not put Him to shame.

Image Courtesy of:

Trials Purify Faith- James 1.6-8

“Let him ask in faith and nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in his ways…” -James 1:6-8

Remember the "Foot Prints in the Sand" story?

4. We need confidence in prayer and again this boils down to how we know God. It is difficult to ask for favors from total strangers. It is very embarrassing in fact but it is easy to ask for help from people we know or those we consider as friends. We feel comfortable with them and even confident that they will extend help.

In John 15:13, the Lord said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. The Lord calls us His friends and with that, we can have the confidence to approach Him during our time of need.

God’s love is dependable and we can come to God with the confidence that He listens to our prayers and petitions because we know that He loves us without favoritism. If sometimes, we soar by faith but plummet again by distrust. We soar to spiritual height and then to sink again in seeking the ease of the body, or the enjoyments of this world—this is very fitly and elegantly compared to a wave of the sea, that rises and falls, swells and sinks, just as the wind tosses it higher or lower, that way or this. A person that fixes his mind into one direction and keeps relentless in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent in his devotions, and will be superior to all trials and oppositions.

You may not want the situation where you are now but God can change your life. If you think your life is garbage, God can change that into a beautiful one! You only need to persevere in faith.

God who has the power over nature, over time and even what is beyond time can safely secure your whole being. Blessed are they whose hope is in the LORD, whether in abundance or in scarcity, in health or in affliction their trust is in Him alone.

Image Courtesy of:

Trials Develop Wisdom- James 1.5

“If anyone lacks wisdom; let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, and reproaches not; and it shall be given him.” -James 1:5

3. Solomon was wise to ask for wisdom so he could rule the people of God. With this, God was pleased with him and he became the wisest man who ever lived!

Most often that not, we suffered because we lacked wisdom.

We draw wisdom from knowledge and the problem in prophet Hosea’s day is sometimes still true today; “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

read the bible

Everything we need to know is in God’s Word. Search it. Study it so that we may be thoroughly equipped. When we lack wisdom, what happens is we pray the wrong prayer and therefore, we miss the entire purpose of the test. Matthew Henry again comments, “We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for wisdom to make a right use of it. Who is there that does not want wisdom under any great trials or exercises to guide him in his judging of things, in the government of his own spirit and temper, and in the management of his affairs”?

Sometimes we wrestle in prayer according to how we view things. We ask the Lord to bless us the way we want Him to be bless us. We ask for the solutions to our problems in the way we think are right. Like in Mark 10:37-40 about John and James’ request. In Apostle Matthew’s account, their mother prayed to the Lord about her two sons’ future in heaven. Well, mothers are always like that anyway. They only want the best for their children. However, God’s sovereign will and purpose must be above our personal satisfaction. Indeed, James and John suffered the suffering of Jesus. James died by the sword and John was exiled to Patmos. However, they went through suffering all for the glory of God and not of themselves.

There is a reason to rejoice if we know that we can glorify God through moments of suffering.

Image Courtesy of:

Patience Gears Toward Perfection- James 1.4

“But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.” -James 1.4

Matthew Henry

2. Matthew Henry continues, When we bear all that God appoints, and as long as he appoints, and with a humble obedient eye to him, and when we not only bear troubles, but rejoices in them, then patience hath its perfect work”.

It is clear that problem situations are not very desirable experiences. The terrible thing is that it does not seem to stop because after one, eventually another one will show up. Many have lost touch with reality because they have chosen to keep these unbearable situations to themselves. Some have chosen to take their lives to escape. However, for believers in Christ, it is important to emphasize that a “God appointed” test always has a fruitful result. It intends to make us grow in faith and in the knowledge of the power of God. In the beginning, it is painful but along the path of hardship, we only need to focus on Christ and in the power of his deliverance. Then, we can rejoice with faith that in Christ we have all we need to survive. Nothing can beat us to the ground for God is our Helper.

Image Courtesy of:

Trials Work Out Patience-James 1.3

“…Knowing this, that the trial of faith works patience…” -James 1:3

Trials Work Out Patience

1. One difficult thing about the “testing of faith” experiences is that we do not know how long it takes, when it ends or when another comes. The word patience here is from the Greek word hupomone {hoop-om-on-ay’} which means steadfastness, constancy, endurance. Vine’s Bible dictionary defines it as, In the New Testament, the characteristic of a man who do not swerve from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.

The best person in the Bible to illustrate the “moment of affliction” in life would be Job. It would be easy to tell Job, “Brother, be happy in your affliction because God loves you.” However, if we will try to put ourselves in Job’s shoes, probably we could cry, “Why me Lord? There are so many evil people in the world who deserve to be punished, why me”? The tough question is why a good God does allow pain to enter a faithful believer’s life.

Job had a sound knowledge of God and he resolutely cleaved to them in his moment of affliction. However, he was slowly sinking into despair. He complained about God’s justice. He knew he was innocent but he felt that God was treating him rather unfairly.

God did not condemn Job’s complain and despair. In Job 38, the Lord talked to Job and asked him a series of rhetorical questions designed to persuade and impress upon him and make him understand the reality of the greatness of His Sovereign power. In effect, God asked, “Were you there when I laid the foundation of the world and defined the measure between the stars and the planets in the universe”? Job dared not answer. He admitted how puny man is before God.

In a sense, we are in a better position than Job because at least, we have an idea about what is possibly happening in the spiritual realm that we cannot see. We know what happened to Job. He did not. God never told him. It shows that we do not have the right to question His judgments because God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and we cannot reach the glory of His wisdom. We cannot expect Him to explain everything and we do not need to know everything but surely His grace abounds to all those who will learn to trust Him along the path of affliction and a great reward is waiting at the end of the journey. Job learned from his experience. It is only when we begin to appreciate God’s sovereign control over all things, do we truly begin to completely praise, trust and obey Him.

God knew Job’s caliber. He knew Job would never fail Him or put Him to shame. He would never give Satan a good laugh.

It goes the same with all of us. Are we going to give Satan an opportunity to laugh at God? God trusts you and all of us that we will not.

Image Courtesy Of:

Rejoicing in Trials II- James 1.2

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various temptations…” – James 1:2

Rejoicing In Trials

The word joy here is from the Greek word chara {khar-ah’} which means gladness, the cause or occasion of joy. Other Bible translations, render the word temptation here as trial or trouble. It is from the Greek word peirasmos {pi-ras-mos’} which means an experiment, attempt, trial, proving; the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy.

Following the theology of James, trials in our lives are occasions for joy. It seems like a program of study that you need to finish in earning a degree. It is like a test that you need to pass to receive high recognition, or even reward afterwards. However, the thing is you will never know what it is, how it will come or when it will come. Sorry, but you cannot get a leakage from heaven. When a Christian experiences such in his life, according to James, he should …count it all joy.

In his commentary on the book of James, Matthew Henry expounds on joy in suffering. He says, “We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavor to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love and not fury in God…”

There are four thoughts that I would like to share about joy in suffering… Please follow in the next blogs…

Image Courtesy of: