That’s a LOT of wine!


Burnt House water jar

This stone water jar was found in Jerusalem’s Old City. ( photo)

A wedding is one of the most wonderful celebrations a family will ever know. We’ve been there. With three daughters, I suppose it was inevitable that sooner or later I’d walk a beautiful bride down the aisle.

The preparations for that day were pretty intense. By the time the big day arrived, I wondered if all the stress over all the details was worth the trouble. But by the end of the day, I realized it had been one of the most important days of our family’s story. There was joy, there was hope, there was a wonderful spirit surrounding the entire event.

And one more thing. Everyone who came to our wedding … was clean.

I know, that’s not even necessary. You knew that, instinctively. There are some events that seem to require that everyone involved be scrubbed and shined, pressed and ruffled, combed, brushed and wrinkle-free.

Weddings are a big deal. When Jesus attended a wedding in Cana, the same principles held true. People did not simply rush in from the fields, from the cattle barn, or from the auto repair shop and take a seat. They prepared.

And even as they arrived for the big event, they washed again.

The famous part of the wedding in John 2 deals with a shortage of wine for the big wedding party. As you certainly know, Jesus turned water into wine and saved the day for a nameless couple.

But did you notice which water he used?

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. – John 2:6

Jesus had the servants fill those jars with water – to the very brim – and it was this water that turned into wine.

And I’m thinking, all of it? That’s a lot of wine! If you multiply six times 20, or 30, and go somewhere in between the two numbers, that’s more wine than a Baptist preacher will see in his entire life!

John calls the entire event a “sign,” so look at the symbolism.

When people arrived for this wedding, they had washed their hands in these jars. They did so to show God that they were coming to this event with “clean hands and a pure heart,” just as Psalm 24 had instructed them. The water in these jars wasn’t bath water. It was holy water.

In time, Jesus would use wine as a symbol for his blood. We remember this every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. So this water used for internal cleansing is now wine, which will later be connected with Jesus’ blood, the ultimate tool of internal cleansing.

And the pots? They were stone. Had the family chosen clay pots, the vessels could have been used only once for spiritual cleansing. The Bible speaks of our bodies has being “jars of clay,” by the way. You get just one shot at spiritual cleansing, too.

But stone jars, by the rules of the day, could be used over and over again. So Jesus has these jars filled to the brim, turns cleansing water into wine, which will later represent his blood, and if the water ever runs low, these vessels can be used over and over again. There was enough water in this scene … to cleanse the world!

It’s also interesting that there were six of the stone jars. Seven has a tradition of being the “perfect” number. So six is one short of “perfection.” Perhaps John was telling us, by including this detail, that Perfection had just walked through the door! Without Jesus, the wedding was in trouble. With Jesus, the day was saved.

He cares so much about the tiny details of our lives, Jesus actually performed this first miracle for a couple whose names we never know, in a village we’ll never find. There is a “Cana” in Israel today, but it has no firm evidence that it is “the place” of the story John told.

It’s just an extravagant gift for a nameless couple in the middle of nowhere.

This is Jesus, and he cares for you as much as he cared for them.