THE WATER JARS AT THE WEDDING FEAST

John 2:1, to 3:21.





FEW days after Jesus met his first followers or disciples at the river Jdrdan, he came with these men to a town in Galilee called Cana, to be present at a wedding. In those lands a feast was always held at a wedding, and often the friends of those who were married stayed several days, eating and drinking together. The mother of Jesus was at this wedding as a friend of the family, for Nazareth, where she lived, was quite near to Cana. Before the wedding feast was over all the wine had been used, and there was no more for the guests to drink. The mother of Jesus knew that her son had power to do whatever he chose, and she said to him, "They have no wine."

Jesus said to her, "0 woman, what have I to do with thee? My hour is not yet come." But his mother knew that Jesus would in some way help the people in their need; and she said to the servants who were waiting at the table, "Whatever he tells you to do, be sure to do it." In the dining hall were standing six large stone jars, each about as large as a barrel, holding twenty-five gallons. These jars held water for washing, as the Jews washed their hands before every meal, and washed their feet as often as they came from walking in the street, since they wore no shoes, but only sandals. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the water jars with water." The servants obeyed Jesus, and filled the jars up to the brim. Then Jesus spoke to them again, and said, "Now draw out some of the water, and take it to the ruler of the feast." They drew out water from the jars, and saw that it had been turned into wine. The ruler did not know from what place the wine had come, but he said to the young man who had just been married, the bridegroom, "At a feast everybody gives his best wine at the beginning, and afterward, when his guests have drunk freely, he brings on wine that is not so good; but you have kept the good wine until now."

This was the first time that Jesus used the power that God had given him, to do what no other man could do. Such works as these were called "miracles," and Jesus did them as signs of his power as the Son of God. When the disciples saw this miracle they believed in Jesus more fully than before. After this Jesus went with his mother and Ids younger brothers to a place called Capernaum, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. But they stayed there only a few days, for the feast of the Passover was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem to attend it. You remember that the feast of the Passover was held every year to keep in mind how God had led the people of Israel out of Egypt long before. When Jesus came he fund in the the courts of the Temple men who were selling oxen and sheep and doves for the sacrifices, and other men sitting at tables changing the money of Jews, who came from other lands into the money of Judea. All this made the courts around the Temple seem like a market, and not a place for the worship of God. Jesus picked up some cord, and made from it a little whip. With it he began to drive out of the Temple all the buyers and sellers. He was but one, and they were many; but such power was in his look that they ran before him. He drove the men, and the sheep and the oxen; he overturned the tables, and threw on the floor the money; and to those who were selling the doves he said,

"Take these things away; make not my Fathers house a house for selling and buying! These acts of Jesus were not pleasing to the rulers of the Jews, for many of them were getting rich by this selling of sacrifices and changing of money. Some of the rulers came to Jesus, and said to him, "What right have you to come here and do such things as these? What sign can you show that God has given to you power to rule in this place ? Jesus said to them, I will give you a sign. Destroy this house of God, and in three days I will raise it up." Then said the Jews, "It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and it is not finished yet. Will you raise it up in three days?" But Jesus did not mean that Temple on Mount M6rlah. He was speaking of himself; for in him God was dwelling as in a temple, and he meant that when they should put him to death, he would rise again in three days. Afterward, when Jesus had died and risen again, his followers, the disciples, thought of what he had said, and understood these words. While Jesus was in Jerusalem one of the rulers of the Jews, a man named Nicodemus, came to see him. He came in the night, perhaps because he was afraid to be seen coming in the daytime. He said to Jesus, "Master, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no man can do these wonderful things that you do unless God is with him."

Jesus said to Nicodemus, "I say to you in truth, that unless a man is born anew he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus did not know that this meant that to be saved we must have new hearts given to us by the Lord. He said, "Why, how can a man be born twice? How can one be born again after he has grown up?" Jesus said to him, "I tell you of a truth, that unless a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." By this he meant that we must be baptized, and that God must put his Spirit in us, if we are to become Gods children. Jesus said also, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that every one who believes in him may have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him may not perish, but may have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn (that is to judge) the world; but that the world through him might be saved." We have already read how Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, and how that serpent pointed to Christ.