Here are just a few reflections on the Water and the Wine at a Jewish Wedding
John 2:1-12 tells us about Jesus’ very first miracle which was performed at a Jewish wedding in Cana. On the third day of the wedding feast Jesus’ mother informed Him that the wine had ran out. Jesus replies to her, “MY TIME IS NOT YET”. Now that is an interesting comment…. I had always thought that Jesus meant that it wasn’t time for Him to start performing miracles yet, but I have since seen some other important clues as to why He would say such a thing to His mother.
It was fitting that Jesus first miracle should happen at a wedding feast since it is picture type of what He would do for Israel, His bride, in the future. He would die for her, but then in that dying would be wed to her and share with her in a far more glorious wedding feast in heaven. I think it is really interesting that it is on the 3rd day that the ‘New Wine’ is provided by Jesus at the wedding feast in Cana, as Jesus Rose on the third day – He is ‘Our New Wine’, ‘Our New Covenant’.
Jesus’ time was “not yet” and yet He was demonstrating what He was going suffer for his Bride AT THE RIGHT TIME. The water and the wine at this wedding, I believe, symbolizes the ‘Water’ of the Baptism and the ‘Wine’ or the Blood of the everlasting covenant. (Jesus is our New Wine and New Covenant that never ends – never runs out.)
In Jewish custom the groom held up the cup of wine to his betrothed bride with his right hand and together they drank. This was done as a solemn vow to one another for the wedding to come. We see a direct parallel here in what our Lord Jesus did at the Passover with His disciples, when He took the cup, held it up to them, and urged them to drink the wine with Him. The disciples were instructed to drink regularly from the cup in remembrance of Him until he returned again for them, (His bride) where they would drink with him in His New Kingdom. Each time we drink from the cup, we are renewing our wedding vows and showing Jesus that we belong to Him through what he has done for us.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
At the ancient engagement ceremony the words cleanse her by the washing of the word were proclaimed as a part of the vows spoken by the bridegroom as the priest of the home. At this time he sets his bride apart, she is spoken for now.
In Jewish tradition the bride would wash herself in “living water” such as a river or a lake. This ceremony symbolized the washing away of all impurities. A celebration was held next with family and friends where they would share wine, sweets and a “blessing” in celebration for the bride’s new marital status, for now she belonged to her husband. Water baptism has a similar meaning as we are testifying that we now belong to our husband and through the living water of Christ’s Spirit our lives are being purified.
In ancient Jewish tradition, the gift of Matton or “The Bride Price” was given to the bride – as an expression of love – Rings, coins or any other precious items were sent to the bride, and as the time drew closer the gifts became more expensive. Eleazor brought gifts for Rebekah too. This is a prophetic picture of the Messiah. He gives gifts to all through the Holy Spirit if we ask in his name. 1 Corinthians 12.
Levitical law and bitter water
In Levitical Law if the bride was suspected of marital unfaithfulness she was given bitter water to drink. If she was not guilty, she beared fruit/or children. Our Bridegroom Jesus was given bitter vinegar to drink on the cross and he has borne MUCH FRUIT/MANY CHILDREN through his death, because he was NOT GUILTY and now we are found ‘not guilty’ through Him!, so in turn can bear much fruit through him.
As stated earlier in times gone by the “bride price” was paid,
Jesus paid the ultimate price of all for His bride.
© Painting by D A Cleland
Since posting about the Jewish Bride I have painted this picture which was inspired by Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings”. I would like to take the opportunity to explain what all the symbolism means in the painting. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit that came down on Jesus, the dove is heading for the light of the new dawn, new beginnings or heaven. The dove/Holy Spirit brings healing in our lives as we are led by him. The white gown shows that she is a righteous and pure bride, her flowers or garland in her hair is a victory garland that the saints of Christ earn and wear; this symbolizes our victories through Christ. (crown of life – James 1:12 and crown of rejoicing – 1 Thess 2:19 and crown of glory – 1 Pet. 5:4) The petals are symbolic of the spring that is almost over, signaling that summer is VERY near. The bride has little wing sleeves and is ready to fly.