[forthright] When Jesus Went to a Party

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 11:18:48 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: FIDELITY

When Jesus Went to a Party
by Mike Benson

Non-canonical myth would have us believe that
Jesus as a boy performed various miraculous feats.
The inspired John tells us otherwise. This was his
very first "sign" (John 2:11).

We don't know the identity of the bride and groom.
It is likely that they were friends of the family.
Jesus, his mother, and the twelve disciples were
among the invited guests (v. 2).

Something potentially embarrassing happened during
this important occasion./1 The drink ran out. Mary
told her son, "They have no wine" (v. 3). First-
century wedding feasts often lasted for as long as
a week. This situation was wrought with problems.
Imagine hosting a modern reception and running out
of wedding cake and punch. Then imagine being
taken to court for such a blunder!/2

Jesus told the servants to fill the six stone
waterpots with water to the brim (v. 7). Each
container held between twenty and thirty gallons
(v. 6). He then instructed them to dip some of the
"liquid" out and offer it to the "head waiter."
The man, not aware of the miracle that had
occurred, assumed that the best wine had been
saved for the latter part of the feast (v. 10).

Virtually every time this passage is considered,
folks want to know what kind of wine Jesus made.
That question ought to be addressed, but other
important points also need to be considered. Note:

I. Jesus went to a party. Some people are of the
opinion that Christianity must be dominated by
that which is somber and serious. Children of God
must never pursue any sort of activity that lends
itself toward merriment or light-heartedness.
Jesus certainly never subscribed to that thinking.

On the contrary, he not only attended this joyous
social function, the Lord even "helped" with the
refreshments. By his very presence, Jesus
illustrates that we can participate in the
gladsome affairs of this life (Ecclesiastes 10:19;
Proverbs 17:22).

II. Jesus went to a party, but he didn't engage in
any sinful activity. Today it is virtually
impossible to attend a group affair without some
sort of alcohol being served. Yes, Jesus made
drink at a wedding feast, but he did not make
intoxicating drink.

Scripture is clear about inebriant spirits. "Woe
to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant
for mixing intoxicating drink" (Isaiah 5:22; cf.
Proverbs 20:1).

Someone objects, "But Mike, Jesus made WINE and
wine is an intoxicant!" Actually, the word "wine"
as it is employed in Scripture is used in two
senses.

First, it is used in reference to fresh grape
juice in an unfermented state (Isaiah 16:10; Joel
2:24; cf. Isaiah 65:8).

Second, it is used as an intoxicant (Proverbs
23:29-34).

Study the text in John 2 closely. The guests had
"well drunk" (v. 10), then Jesus made somewhere in
upwards of 180 gallons of new wine. Think about
that for a moment. Would the Lord provide such a
quantity of liquor to a group that had well drunk?
(Galatians 5:19-21; cf. Habbakuk 2:15).

1. One thing that seems strange to us is that
there was a strong element of reciprocity. If one
gave a feast of such and such a quality (and
quantity!) when his son was married, he was
entitled to an equivalent when his neighbor's son
was married. If the neighbor did not provide it,
he could be taken to court and sued; a wedding
feast was not simply a social occasion, but
involved a legal obligation.

It is quite possible that the bridegroom of John 2
and his family were financially unable to provide
all that was necessary for the wedding feast. It
is often said that it is unlikely that Jesus would
have performed a miracle like this simply to
rescue people from a minor social embarrassment.
Quite so. But it may well have been much more than
that. It may be that Jesus rescued a young couple
from a financial liability that would have
crippled them economically for years (Leon Morris,
"A Wedding In Cana," Reflections on the Gospel of
John, 70).

2. It is likely that the family responsible was in
a difficult financial situation. That the wine ran
out is itself evidence of the fact that they were
poor. Had they not been in straitened
circumstances, they would never have allowed such
an occurrence. It is almost certain that some of
the guests were people who had previously
entertained the present hosts and were thus
entitled to demand an equivalent hospitality.
There may even have been the prospect of a
lawsuit. We must not think of the situation as a
very minor affair, with nothing much hinging on
the outcome (Ibid, 72).

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