John 2:6-7                            Six Stone Vessels                                      6/12/2005      ßà   

 

  • The First Miracle (John 2:1-11)

 

 

 

#1.       Mine Hour Is Not Yet Come (John 2:4, Mark 5:7, Luke 8:28, Col 2:9)

 

 

 

  • Six Waterpots of Stone (John 2:6, Rom 15:4, Psalm 104:15, Judg 9:13, Rev 13:18)

 

 

 

  • Six Empty Vessels (Rom 9:21-23, Eph 2:3, 1:4-5, John 6:44, Matt 1:21, John 4:14)

 

 

 

#2.       The Regeneration of a Sinner (John 3:3-8)

 

 

 

  • Filled With Water and Filled With Wine (2Thes 2:13)

 

 

 

#3.       A Marriage Feast (Matt 22:2,14, Luke 14:16,24, Rev 19:6-9)

 

 

 

  • Happy Is the Man Who Is Conscious of This (Gal 3:24, Isa 61:3)

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to John 2:1 (2X). We have here the familiar story of Jesus turning water into wine. And like all familiar stories in the Bible, when we look closely at the words that God wrote through the pens of holy men of old, we discover fabulous new things and we will be greatly edified. That is why I highly recommend everyone to open your Bibles, and actually read what God has said, and if possible write notes in the sermon outline that you find in your Bulletin. We have here the story of the first miracle that Jesus did when He started His ministry.

  • The First Miracle (John 2:1-11)

Joh 2:1  And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

Joh 2:2  And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

Joh 2:3  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

Joh 2:4  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

Joh 2:5  His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Joh 2:6  And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

Joh 2:7  Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

J 2:8  And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

Joh 2:9  When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

Joh 2:10  And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

Joh 2:11  This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

This story begins with the words, “And the third day”. This gives us a little insight in how God chose the exact words that were recorded for us in the Bible, because this was not the third day at all. Perhaps you remember that immediately after the baptism of Jesus He was driven into the wilderness for 40 days, where He was tempted by the Devil. What does this “third day scene” remind us of? The third day reminds us of the day of resurrection. It was on the third day that this earth emerged from its watery grave, and it was on the third day that the barren earth was clothed with grass and plants and fruit trees. It was on the third day that the great fish that swallowed up Jonah spit him out on dry land. It was on the third day that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the grave, according to the Scriptures. And then we read in the first five verses that the mother of Jesus had a very prominent role in this story. How must we interpret this? In perspective, what we see here in the first few chapters of the Gospel according to John is a transition: We have here the “setting aside of Israel after the flesh” and the “inauguration of the Kingdom of God after the Spirit”. Here in chapter 2 the mother of Jesus stands for the nation of Israel. Out of her came the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. But that was all. Did you notice that she was not called by her personal name, Mary? That is because she demonstrated a woeful lack of spiritual discernment. First of all, she ignored His deity. Did she not know that He was more than man? Did she not know that He was God in he flesh, and therefore He knew everything? It seems as if she presumed to so far as to dictate to the Lord, almost as if she told Him what to do. If Jesus was the Son of God, and His mother was informed of that at the time of His conception, then would Jesus not know that they ran out of wine? Of course He knew! And thus, when Jesus said to her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” it was a pointed rebuke. His mother wanted Him to openly display His power, but that was a desire spawned by carnal motives. The nation of Israel had no thought and no heart for a suffering Messiah, only for a Messiah who would set up for them an earthly kingdom. But Jesus answered her:

#1.       Mine Hour Is Not Yet Come (John 2:4, Mark 5:7, Luke 8:28, Col 2:9)

Joh 2:4  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.

What did Jesus mean by that? Jesus recognized in this simple act of turning water into wine that this would be an important turning point in His life. From this time on He would become a public character. From this time on He would have almost no time to eat, and His opportunity to talk to the Father would be only when others slept. If He performed this miracle He would become the gazing stock of every eye, and the common talk of every tongue in Israel. He would be followed from place to place, and He would increase in popularity among the common people, who would follow Him simply for seeing His miracles without actually being transformed from the inside. This would provoke the jealousy of the religious leaders and He would be regarded by them as a public enemy. This would lead to their false accusations against Him, and He would be sentenced to be crucified. All of this stood out before Him when He was asked by His mother to supply the needed wine. That is why He said, “Mine hour is not yet come”. But Jesus had come to do the will of God, no matter what the cost. And therefore He did not shrink back from going to the cross. And thus God chose these words in the Bible to let us know what was anticipated here: His hour of the cross was yet to come. It was the awful hour, which was the time when He would be subject to man’s will, for He would be delivered into the hands of sinners. But until that time He was about His Father’s business, seeking only to do His will.

When Jesus said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” literally the Greek text says, “What to Me and thee?” The basic meaning of this question is: “What is there common to Me and thee?” We should not explain this as if it was the culture of those days to answer His mother as “Woman”. We should never enter the culture of those days, or the customs of those days, into our interpretations of the Bible as if the Bible was a history book. The Bible was written by God, and God chose those words Himself, regardless what the customs of those days were. In fact, when we search the Bible we find the same Greek text displayed in Mark 5:7 and in Luke 8:28. In both these texts it is a demon crying from within the Gadarene demoniac who cried out with a loud voice, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high?” And the Greek text in those verses where the demons say, “What have I to do with thee?” is identical to the Greek text in John 2:4, where Jesus says to His mother, “What have I to do with thee?” Certainly this was no complement to His mother, but a rebuke. The Lord Jesus is showing here that His season of subjection to His mother and Joseph was over. His public ministry had now begun, and she must not presume to dictate to Him. The Lord Jesus was calling attention to the fact that He was more than man. “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9). He did not address her as “Mother”, for that would have called attention to their human relationships. But He addressed her as “Woman”, which indicated that God was speaking to her. Let us now turn our eyes to

  • Six Waterpots of Stone (John 2:6, Rom 15:4, Psalm 104:15, Judg 9:13, Rev 13:18)

Joh 2:6  And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

Why did God record this event for us in the Bible? You might say, “It is to prove that Jesus is God”. That is OK; but is not a very strong argument. Jesus did far greater miracles than these. And why is it that this fairly incidental miracle was described in so much detail? Is there perhaps a deeper spiritual meaning in all these words that we read here in the first 11 verses of this chapter? And I think there is. We should always remember the words of Rom 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope”. And so, let us dig a little deeper and see what we can find. What were these waterpots for? They were for purifying ceremonies according to the Law of Moses. These were not small waterpots that women take on their head to fill at the well. A firkin is measure of volume of about 10 gallons. And thus these waterpots had a volume of about 20 to 30 gallons each. They were made of stone, and thus they were heavy. These waterpots were not moved around; they stayed where they were. Let us not delve into the ceremonies that they were used for, because that would lead us into a wide excursion. Suffice it to say that the Lord Jesus made here about 150 gallons of wine, more than sufficient to give the entire city of Cana a good time. If you think that wine is sinful, like many people believe, then remember that God is not the author of sin. What is wine good for in the Bible? God says in Psalm 104:15, “And wine that maketh glad the heart of man”. We also read in Judg 9:13, where Jotham, the son of Gideon, told a parable to the inhabitants of Shechem, and he said in Judg 9:13, “And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man?” (2X) And so, we conclude that the symbol of wine is to have joy, but especially to have joy in the Lord. These religious waterpots were empty. They contained no water or wine. It is symbolizing that Judaism still existed as a religious system, but it ministered no comfort to the heart. It had degenerated to a cold mechanical routine of customs and traditions. Israel had lost her first love. Here were six waterpots, used for religious ceremonies. Six is the number of man. God made man on the sixth day. And we read in Rev 13:18, “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six”, or 666. It is the number of man, not “a man”, because the indefinite article does not exist in the Greek. Here stood six empty vessels.

  • Six Empty Vessels (Rom 9:21-23, Eph 2:3, 1:4-5, John 6:44, Matt 1:21, John 4:14)

All that was left of Judaism was the flesh, or the empty vessel. God was not in it. As you know, people are identified in the Bible as vessels unto honor and vessels unto dishonor, or vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. (Rom 9:21-23). That is whom we see in this row of six empty vessels. And these were stone waterpots, or stone vessels. Why stone? Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:3 (2X). When God looks at mankind He sees that we all have a heart of stone. We all come into the world as enemies of God, in rebellion against God, incorrigible, and unwilling to listen to God’s Word. If you want proof of that, try to teach anyone on the street the words God spoke in the Bible. The answer you will get is, “That is your interpretation, but I have mine”. Or they say, “I know what I believe, and you are not going to make me change my religion”. They are unwilling to listen to God’s Word, no matter how wrong they are. And thus the Bible says that “we all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph 2:3). We all came into the world as sinners on the way to Hell. The only way God can save anyone from going to Hell is by forcibly drawing them to the Lord Jesus Christ by His irresistible grace. And who is God going to draw irresistibly to Christ? He draws to Christ those whom He has chosen from before the foundation of the world. That is the Gospel of the Bible. God says in Eph 1:4-5, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”. Let us look now at God’s irresistible grace. God says in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”. When God knows whom He is going to save and whom He is not going to save, is there any reason for Christ to suffer and pay for the sins of everyone on this earth? No reason at all. And thus when we read in Matt 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”, it is clear that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for His people only. And who are His people? His people are those whom the Father chose before the foundation of the world, and whom the Father will draw irresistibly to the Lord Jesus. These are the plain words of Scripture. This is not a popular doctrine, but this is what God teaches us in the Bible. This church will always be a small church, because people do not like what God says. But I would not dare to teach anything else, for I thoroughly fear the wrath of Hell. Let us now return to John 2:6 (2X). Jesus commanded these waterpots to be filled with water. And if these vessels are a symbol of people, then what does that water symbolize. Within this context water is a symbol for the words of the Gospel. For example, please turn to John 4:14 (2X). Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well outside the city of Shechem, now called Sychar. Jesus said to her in John 4:14, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”. The picture Jesus told her is this: The words of the Gospel of Jesus, when they are soaked up in the soul of the one who hears and believes, will turn his soul into a well of living water, which is symbolizing an endless stream of more words of the Gospel reaching other people who will also be drawn to believe the Gospel, and so on. Do you begin to sense where all this is leading to?

#2.       The Regeneration of a Sinner (John 3:3-8)

What do we mean by “regeneration”? It means the sinner’s soul is being “Born Again”, or a better translation is “Born From Above”. Please turn one page to your left, to John 3:3 (2X). The Lord Jesus had a discussion with a Pharisee named Nicodemus about salvation. Then Jesus said in verse 3,

Joh 3:3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Joh 3:4  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Joh 3:5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Joh 3:6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Joh 3:7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Joh 3:8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Paraphrased in verse 3 Jesus said to Nicodemus, “If your soul is not born from above, you cannot see the Kingdom of God”. Then in verse 5 Jesus further specified how someone becomes born from above, “You must be born of water and the Spirit”. Here again is that living water of the Gospel that flows from the lips of the evangelist and reaches the ears of many of mankind. But only if the Spirit of God will actively open the spiritual ears of a man will he become born from above. It means his soul that was dead to God becomes alive, because God made him alive when his ears heard the good news of “salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ”. This is the miracle of regeneration by water and the Spirit. And when you read verse 8, keep in mind that the Greek words have a double meaning. The word for “wind” also means “Spirit”. The word for “bloweth” also means “breathe”. The word for “sound” also means “voice”. The word for “tell” also means “know”. And the words “that is born” are literally “having been born”. And thus we need to read verse 8 as follows, “The Spirit breathes where He wills, and thou hearest His voice, but thou dost not know whence He cometh and whither He goeth: So is everyone having been born of the Spirit”. And thus, Jesus emphasized here that 100% of the actions leading to salvation were initiated by God. Christ paid for the guilt of our sins almost 2000 years ago. But we came into the world dead in trespasses and sins. That payment is then applied to anyone of us the moment our soul is regenerated by God the Holy Spirit. Now that is the miracle in view in John 2.

  • Filled With Water and Filled With Wine (2Thes 2:13)

First we see the condition of the natural man before he is born again: he is like an empty waterpot of stone, cold, lifeless, useless, and filled with air from “the Prince of the power of the air”. Second, we see the worthlessness of man’s religion to help the sinner. Those waterpots were set apart “after the manner of the purifying of the Jews”. They were designed for ceremonial purification, but their lack of value was shown by their emptiness. Third, at the command of Christ they were filled with water, and water is the symbol of the Word which God uses in quickening dead souls into newness of life. These waterpots were filled up to the brim, which means God always gives good measure, more than we can hold. Fourth, the water produced wine, “good wine”, which is the symbol of Divine joy, filling the soul of the one who has been born of water and the Spirit. Fifth, we read, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus”. That is precisely what the new birth is: It is a miracle. And not only so, it is always the “beginning of miracles” for the one who has been newly born: Regeneration is always the initial work of grace. From there a surprising development of the whole person takes place, which is called “growing in grace”. Sixth, we read, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory”. It is thus, in the regeneration of dead sinners, and converting them into saints, that the “glory” of our Savior and Lord is “manifested”. Seventh, we read, “and His disciples believed on Him”. A dead man cannot believe. But the first movement of a newly born soul is to turn to Christ. Therefore the work of regeneration precedes the act of believing in Christ. We see this confirmed in 2Thes 2:13, where we read, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”. First we read “sanctification of the Spirit”, which means “having been set apart in the soul”, which is the new birth, and then follows “belief of the truth”. Eighth, consider the second meaning of wine, which is the symbol of the shed blood of Christ. Is it not profoundly significant that in this first miracle which Christ performed the wine should be so prominent? God is indicating hereby that in order for His people to be joyous, the precious blood of His Son must first be poured out. And that is the foundation of every blessing we enjoy. Therefore Christ began His supernatural works of mercy by producing that miracle which spoke of His sacrificial death. Ninth, consider the work of the servants. Not the disciples and not His mother, but the servants were nearest to the Lord. They were doing all the physical work of filling the waterpots, which symbolized their preaching of the Gospel to fill the empty vessels with living water, and while doing so they possessed the knowledge of the work of Christ. The Lord of glory was their fellow servant. He came as the Servant of Jehovah. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. And therefore those who are humble in service, and those engaged in the humblest service, are nearest to Christ. This is their reward here on earth. And they rejoice in this work of being the dispensers of joy. And remember that the occasion for all this was:

#3.       A Marriage Feast (Matt 22:2,14, Luke 14:16,24, Rev 19:6-9)

Please turn to the Gospel according to Matthew 22:2 (2X). And herein we are reminded that every time the Lord Jesus spoke of a marriage feast He was referring to the feast we will have in the new creation after Judgment Day. After all the wicked have been removed into a place called Hell, and after the inauguration of the new creation, God compares our togetherness as a great marriage feast. For example, the Lord Jesus spoke in Matt 22:2 about the marriage feast as follows, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son”. Can you see how analogous this is to the principle of election? What is election? Before the foundation of the world the Father chose a Bride for His Son. What is so bad about that? Nothing! But the reprobate insist on playing a role in God’s action of choosing them. They are puffed up in their pride. But what is the bottom line of this parable? We read in verse 14, “For many are called, but few are chosen”. The Gospel goes out into all the world and reaches many ears, and thus many are called. But only those who are chosen are changed on the inside. Now please turn to the Gospel according to Luke 14:16 (2X). This too is referring to the great marriage feast in the new creation. The Lord Jesus began this parable with the words in Luke 14:16, “Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:” Many were invited, but many had an excuse and did not want to come. The Lord refers here to the many in the OT congregation as well as the many in the NT church who are under the hearing of the Word of God, but remain unconverted. And what is the bottom line here? We read in Luke 14:24, “For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper”. None of those who were invited and remain unconverted shall end up in heaven. Please turn now to Rev 19:6 (2X). The scene is in heaven, shortly before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth. Again, a marriage feast is in preparation. Many were called, but few have been chosen to become the Bride of Christ.

Re 19:6  And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Re 19:7-8  Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.   And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Re 19:9  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

These are the true sayings of God: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”. Can there be any doubt that God chooses who may attend the marriage supper of the Lamb? We do not choose for Christ. It is the Father who draws us to Jesus. And then we can look forward to a marriage feast which will last into eternity. But what is the bottom line of the story of the marriage feast at Cana, almost 2000 years ago? The bottom line is that there will be people who are bringing their own wine. It is not wine from Jesus, but wine from the vine of the earth.

  • Happy Is the Man Who Is Conscious of This (Gal 3:24, Isa 61:3)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Galatians 3:24 (2X). The natural man has a wine of his own. He enjoys a carnal happiness which is produced by “the pleasures of sin”. Sooner or later this wine from the vine of the earth runs out. He may be surrounded by friends who are likeminded, or he may be surrounded by money and by a social status, but the time comes when he discovers that “he has no wine”. Hopefully he comes to this conclusion before his body dies. Happy is the man who is conscious of this. When he discovers his own wretchedness, because he is not obeying God’s Law, and he discovers God’s absolute righteousness, he will be drawn to find a solution to his sin-problem. And the solution he will find is that he will be drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ. God says in Gal 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith”. God laid down the Law so that we would see our own sinfulness, and we would be drawn to Christ. He has a solution for our sin-problem. He is ready to give us “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for our spirit of heaviness” (Isa 61:3). What price must we pay? And then we discover that His grace is FREE. There is no purgatory to pay. There are no penances to pay. His grace is really FREE. And then the Lord Jesus will put a song in our mouth, which not even the angels can sing. It is the song of redemption. This is what the saints will sing, and they give God all the honor and the glory. This is what pleases God.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.