Jesus’ Trials and the Wedding at Cana

01 Sep
Cana - 1

from Google Images

All three Synoptics mention heaven opening and the Spirit of God coming out of heaven to rest upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22). While John doesn’t mention heaven opening, he does support the Synoptics concerning the Spirit descending (from heaven) and remaining upon Jesus (John 1:33). In Matthew it is the Spirit of God, and in Mark and John it is simply the Spirit, and in Luke it is the Holy Spirit, but all four record the event, and it seems to be of key importance. The Spirit’s relationship with Jesus is especially significant when we come to Jesus’ temptations. Matthew claims Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1), while Mark claims Jesus was ‘thrust’ or ‘driven’ into the wilderness by the Spirit (Mark 1:12). Luke, however, gives us a slightly different picture by claiming Jesus was continuously led (imperfect passive of the verb ago – G71) by the Spirit in the wilderness; that is, Jesus was led throughout the forty day event.

Luke tells us that Jesus “returned (hupestrepsen – G5290) from the Jordan” (Luke 4:1), and “returned (hupestrepsen – G5290) into Galilee” (Luke 4:14). This would agree with John’s account that two days after Jesus’ baptism, Jesus returned into Galilee (John 1:29, 35, 43) from the Jordan. Moreover, Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, which seems to point to his being continuously led by the Spirit in the wilderness. According to the Scriptures, no matter how we interpret the wilderness, Jesus was in Galilee when he was tempted; the Gospel of John leaves us with no other conclusion. Moreover, Luke’s “returned from the Jordan” begs the question: returned to where? It seems Luke’s placement of this phrase before the temptations begin puts Jesus in Galilee, where he grew up and had been living. I know of no other place Jesus could possibly have returned to after he was baptized by John in the Jordan.

If the above is accurate, then John mentions that “the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee” (John 2:1), which contextually means this is the third day after Jesus’ baptism or three days after heaven opened, and the Spirit of God came down upon Jesus. The wedding in Cana seems to be placed in contrast with Jesus’ forty-day trial in the wilderness, but this perceived contradiction dissipates in the understanding that the wilderness into which Jesus was led was a wilderness of people (Ezekiel 35:20). That is, Jesus went into Galilee two days after his baptism in the Jordan (John 1:43; cf. Luke 4:14), and was tempted there. The Synoptics mainly point to the negative elements of the wilderness experience, but John speaks about what occurred to the disciples of Jesus. That is, he points to a union or a marriage with Jesus. Jesus, himself, compared what was taking place during the forty-day temptation event with a wedding (Luke 5:34-35).

Chapter two of John brings out some interesting symbols for the new man that Paul speaks about later in his epistles (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24). Although I am not trying to say a miracle never occurred or that there never was a literal wedding, I am convinced that there is great spiritual meaning behind the events that literally took place there.

John tells us of Jesus’ mother, but she isn’t called by her name, Mary (John 2:1). Rather, she is Jesus’ mother in the sense that Israel was Jesus’ mother (cf. Revelation 12:1, 5). She is the symbol of that human part of us that controls what we do, as Paul tells us (Romans 6:13, 19), and we see that it is the mother of Jesus who directed the servants (the members of the body) to do as Jesus said (John 2:5).

The mother here is that part of us who receives Jesus, but notice how Jesus speaks to her: “What have I to do with you; my hour is not yet come” (John 2:4)! That is, it is impossible to communicate spiritual truth to those who have no power to receive it. Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 2:11 that it is the spirit of man (the ruler of the feast in John 2:9-10) that knows the things of men, but eye has not seen nor ear heard the things God has prepared for them who love him (1Corinthians 2:9). Rather, it is the Spirit of God that understands those things that the spirit in man (the ruler of the feast in John 2:9-10) has no ability to know by himself (1Corinthians 2:10-11). Nevertheless, the Spirit was not yet given, so the mother of Jesus told the servants to obey Jesus. This unveils what goes on in the inner hearts of those who first begin to believe in Christ. That is, the inner will (mother in John) of “the sons of the bride-chamber” (Luke 5:34) tells the members of the body (cf. Romans 6:13) to obey Jesus. Later Jesus would reveal to the disciples that the Comforter (i.e. the Spirit and new ruler of the feast) would be in them even as Jesus was presently with them (John 14:16-17).

Luke’s forty-day period (Luke 4:1-2) is the second such period in Jesus’ life. The first occurred immediately after Jesus’ birth when it took his mother, Mary, forty days to be purified (Luke 2:22; Leviticus 12:1-4), but the mention of purification in John 2:1 points **not** to the purification of Jesus’ mother, Mary, but to his mother, Israel (Revelation 12:1, 5). Notice that she commands obedience to Jesus, who then commands for the water to be poured into six water jars of stone—the kind used for purification, thus, connecting John 2:6 with Luke 2:22, and John 2 is connected to the Synoptics through Jesus’ mother, the 40 days of temptation (Luke 4) v/s the 40 day purification period (Luke 2) and the stone water jars (John 2).

Furthermore, the three elements mentioned in John 2 represent three stages of truth – literal (stone, viz. the Law written on stone, Exodus 20), rational (water, viz. the washing of water by the word of God, Ephesians 5:26) and spiritual (wine, i.e. the Spirit which changes behavior – viz. not being drunk with wine but filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18). For example, I am able to understand the commandment: “You shall not murder” to mean don’t spill innocent blood. The more difficult truth is: I should not destroy a person’s character (even with the truth), or I shouldn’t offend a person needlessly etc. The most difficult of all, and impossible without the Spirit of God, is to love that person (though an enemy) as expressed in love’s eight flavors found in Galatians 5:22-23.

More can be said about this, but this should suffice to show that the marriage feast at Cana was not only a literal occurrence, but is also a representation of what goes on in the inner man when Jesus affects us. This is the story of what went on in the hearts of the disciples who believed in Jesus (John 2:11, the angels / messengers of Mark 1:13), and is placed in contrast with what did not go on in the hearts of those who rejected him in the corresponding temptation of Christ in the wilderness found in the Synoptics (Luke 4:22; 5:21; 6:11). Those are the wild beasts of Mark 1:13.

This ability of the disciples to believe Jesus is nothing less than a miracle, as it shows us what occurs in the human heart that responds to the Gospel, because we who were born in Adam have nothing within us to receive the things of God properly (Galatians 5:22-23). We have no wine (Spirit) that would change our behavior. All we have is the spirit in man, who can appreciate good (John 2:10; cf. Galatians 5:22-23) when he tastes (experiences) it, but has absolutely no wherewithal to produce it.

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Posted by on September 1, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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