The Wedding at Cana

An Interpretation and Dissertation of the Story of The Wedding at Cana:
The Gospel of John, 2.1 - 10, November 13, 2000

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do what ever he tells you."

Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them. "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them. "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast."

So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom, and said to him, "Every man servers the good wine first; and when men had drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now."

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The symbology of this story is as follows:

The "Water": this is a symbol of the emotions, human nature, ever fluid, ever changing. It is also the symbol of creation - the fish being the symbol of humanity existing within the essence of God, the sea of the Spirit.

The "Wine": this is the symbol of life, and of the teachings on life.

The "Poor wine": the teachings of the prophets of old.

The "Good wine": Christ's teachings

The "Wedding or Marriage Feast": this is the symbol of a blending, the blending of the people with the Christ within, the Hope and the Glory, their souls (the Christ principle).

"Christ": the giver of new life, the new wine, the physical manifestation of the second aspect of God, the embodiment of the Love principle.

"Mary": ever the symbol of the earth, of nourishment, fertility and femininity.(The earth is feminine: Mother Nature, Mother Earth, that from which all things spring - our season of new growth and rejuvenation.)

It should be understood that the parables, if understood correctly, all have the same underlying meaning or message. This one is no different, for it depicts human growth and human progress; Christ's concern. We must also realize that his words, though possibly experiencing some change through the millennia, will always have a deeper meaning than the superficial or that given by those who wear the canonical blinders or that of the fundamentalists.

Also, parables are usually put into some familiar local setting such as fishing, farming or weddings. This parable is about a wedding. Some of the stories in the parables actually happened and some of them did not. As far as the teachings within the parable are concerned, it does not matter if the occurrence depicted in the parable actually occurred or not.

The parables are meant to teach, if not consciously then subliminally with the use of symbolic wording that the human sub-consciousness understands. To understand this concept more thoroughly, read the book "Experiencing Erickson". A presentation of a psychiatrist's work. Parables are not meant (nor is the Bible) to be historical, but rather to bring to those who hear the words a means to enlightenment.

This parable is indicative of the affect that the Christ and his teachings will have on humanity. A humanity that had previously been practicing the teachings of the "poor wine", the then current teachings given by teaches, sages and profits of olden times.

Notice the term used in the beginning of the parable, "When the wine failed", it says not "When the wine ran out", but failed. The wine given first at a marriage, an actual marriage of two people, was the best of the wines to be served, later the poorer wine was served. In this marriage, symbolizing the marriage or blending of humanity with the spirit through the acceptance and practice of the available teachings shows that wines (both wines of the feast) were, to Christ, unacceptable. Unacceptable not necessarily because they (the teachings) were not correct for humanity up to this time, but with His coming, they were unacceptable.

Throughout history, each teaching, when given is in the line of an experiment to see how humanity will respond. If humanity does not respond correctly (or as hoped) then the people given that teaching "failed" to properly or successfully incorporate the teaching into their social structure. And, through long ages (as was the case of the Jewish people and pointed out so frequently by Christ) the original teachings were changed, added to, or became, in some way, distorted. This is usually accomplished by people of positions of power for their personal benefit and to gain an advantage over the masses which accomplishes the former. This is nothing new. In recent psychiatric teachings this is now recognized as the "emotional plague" (another fascinating topic, Character Analysis by Reich).

Mary said to Christ, "They have no wine". It is fitting that it was Mary that made this observation. She being the symbol of the nourisher or the earth, which saw humanity struggling with the "poor wine", which now, even that had run out (failed). The people were really without true spiritual guidance. We also have the relationship of the Mother to the Son; the Mother requiring the help of divinity for the spiritual nourishment and development of her humanity and the Son doing the wishes of the mother through the will of the Father and providing that which is needed, the "good wine".

The marriage ceremony (leading up to the marriage, to the joining itself) symbolizes the long history, evolution and development of humanity. The marriage here, being the final assimilation or perfection of the human race which is also symbolized by the "Marriage song of the heavens" which will sound forth at that time. We must also understand the time element present, yet hidden, in some of the parables. The time frame of this parable, like the Prodigal Son parable, extends over a vast period of time, through long ages and reflects the development of humanity. There are many similarities in these two parables, which, in many ways, are the same.

Following the "failure" of the ceremonial wine, Mary said to Jesus, "They have no wine". This is not a request on her part, but a statement by the nourisher of her realization, at this period in the evolution of humanity, of the lack of direction and of ongoing spiritual guidance. It is no coincidence, viewing the history of the race and its current problems, that Christ was now present to provide that needed, that indicated here as the "good wine". For there is never a conflict between the creator and that created. The realization of a need and the fulfilling of that need: "Your Father (who is in heaven) already knows that you need." There is implied in that statement not only a realization/knowledge of what is needed but also the providing of that which satisfies the need. It should be understood that the word "need" is used here and not what some would like it to be, that is, the word "want." This statement exemplifies the cooperation that ever exists between the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus' response to Mary's statement is of interest and conforms perfectly to the pattern and flow the parable, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My time has not yet come." What she has to do with him involves their relationship and the mutual cooperative duties on the part of two aspects of divinity. These involve the evolution and growth of humanity and these words are not a dissertation between a mother and her biological son. He is making the statement, "What is your relationship to me, what would you have me do within our relationship?" The answer, of course, is in her statement to him, "They have no wine." Beautifully portraying the understanding between them and their commitment to each other and to human evolution, which, by the way, is the continuation of the original creative process.

[Just a note on the word 'O' which means to directly address or to invoke. It would possibly be that the wording may be out of order, that is, she approaches him, he recognizes her and her approach and he says, "O woman, what have you to do with me?" and she answers, "They have no wine." Knowing her implication, his response would then be, "My time has not yet come."]

The second part of his response is, "My time has not yet come". If we look at the preceding explanation of the first part of his response, we will be more easily able to explain the second part. Seeing the marriage ceremony as a long period of time culminating in the time of Christ (the actual marriage has not yet taken place and will not for a very long time to come) and with the understanding of Mary's statement "They have no wine." we will see that "his time" at that juncture in time had come! This is the basis of our belief in the Christ and his ministry. His time, his ministry, although not beginning at the time of the wedding ceremony as one would interpret it literally, but rather, in a broader sense, began when, in time, the need could no longer be denied. In this broader sense then his ministry did begin with Mary's invocation.

Jesus then said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. This is the bringing of the power of spirit of God, of divinity into closer proximity to the earth, making it, through the ministry of Christ, more accessible to humanity.

There is a double symbolism in the water. The first symbolism of the water being changed to wine is the expectation (hope) that the emotional/spiritual nature of humanity would accept the "good wine" (Christ's teachings) and through the affect that the "good wine" has on humanity his teachings would be followed. (The sowing of the seeds on fertile soil - that of another parable)

The second is that water (which is colorless, odorless and tasteless) symbolizes that Christ started with (or came from) that which is pure and uncontaminated, the spirit of God, the Father from whence he came. The "six jars" symbolizing his entrance into that which is of the earth. The number six indicates that which is not yet pure. We have then in the symbology of the water and the jars, the coming of the Christ through the Spirit of God to his incarnation on earth - "Through the mystery of the blending of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity." The water being the divinity/spirit, Christ the wine and the jars the yet imperfect earth.

Another aspect of this writing is that spoken by the steward, "Every man servers the good wine first; and when men had drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." After the first wine was served they were then served (unbeknownst to them) the inferior wine. This symbolizes that mentioned above about the original teachings being the first wine served and being changed through time and for the benefit of those in power to the "poor wine": the deceit of the masses. A teaching that is no longer tenable and one that needs replacing. Thus Christ's appearance.

The "poor wine", as indicated above, symbolizes the Jewish teachings or religious practices at that time. Christ's teachings are symbolized by the "good wine" symbol. Notice that Christ did not change the "poor wine" into "good wine", but rather water into the "good wine". The "poor wine" is too contaminated and no longer, from Christ's point of view, useful.

The question now to be asked, is the good wine that Christ gave us still "good wine" or have we allowed it, as happen before, to be changed into "poor wine". Had he expectations of this changing, that is, in his declared return, will he have to again bring to us a "new wine". My son, when he was ten years, old wrote the following:

"When Christ came the first time he gave us a map to follow,
When he returns he will show us that we have been reading the map upside down."

There are other symbols that can be expounded upon in the parable: the Bride and the Bridegroom, their relationship to Christ and Mary and the meaning of the words Cana and Galilee. Who is the Steward of the feast? Who were the servants that did Christ's bidding? What is the meaning of the size of the jars, the numbers given? All these things can be interpreted to further our understanding of the rich teachings of this parable.

As with all parables they can be interpreted in different ways, but regardless of how they are interpreted, they must express a truth, a fundamental teaching, a teaching that can be implemented and followed and in line with the teachings of Christ. This is my interpretation of this parable. There are other meanings embedded in the symbolisms. This writing expresses the basics of that which I believe to be the underlying essence of the parable.


The following is some additional information about the wedding that is not given in the gospel but from another source.

Soon after the return of the Master from the Jordan, and his dwelling by the sea, there was the wedding at Cana of Galilee.

The girl to be married was a relative of those close to the mother of Jesus, who prepared the wedding feast, as was the custom in that period. She, the bride, was a daughter of the cousin of Mary, a daughter of a younger sister of Elizabeth, whose name was also Mary. She was the one spoken of as "the other Mary," and not as some have supposed.

Mary, "the other Mary," was among the household of Zebedee as an aid to Zebedee's wife and James and John and their sister Naomi, the younger of Zebedee's children, were in their early years Mary's charges or cares. John, the younger of the family as well as the younger of those chosen by the Master, that one called "the beloved," was an especial favorite of Mary.

The groom, in the name of Roael, was among the sons of Zebedee, being an older brother of James and John, who later became the close friends and closer followers of Jesus.

The families of Mary were present, as well as those of the Groom. The Master, returning with those who were hangers-on, naturally sought to speak with his mother. Learning of this happening, he too, with his followers, was bid to remain at the feast.

The customs required that there be a feast which was composed of the roasted lamb with the herbs; the breads that had been prepared in the special ways which were the custom and tradition of those who followed close to the faith of Moses' law, Moses' custom, Moses' ordinances.

Much wine was part of the custom. The day was what ye would call June third, and there were plenty of flowers and things of the field, yet only a part of those things were needed. For the custom called for more of the meats prepared with certain herbs, and wines.

The day had been fine; the evening was fair; the moon was full. This, then, brought the activities with the imbibing more and more of wine, more hilarity, and the dance-which was in the form of the circles that were a part of the customs of that land.

With those activities as indicated, the wine ran low. Remember, the sons of Zebedee were of the upper class, as would be termed, not the poorer ones. Thence the reason why Mary served or prepared for her relative at the feast.

From those happenings that had been a portion of her experience upon their return from Egypt---as to how the increase had come in the food, when they had been turned aside as they journeyed back towards the Promised Land--Mary felt, knew, was convinced within herself that here again there might be such an experience. With her son returning as a man starting upon his mission.

For what was the pronouncement to the mother when Gabriel spoke to her? What was the happening with Elizabeth when the mother spoke to her? This might be called a first period of test. For had he not, just ten days ago, sent Satan away, and received his ministry from the angel? This had come to be know as hearsay.

Hence there was the natural questioning of the "mother-love' for his purposes. For this son, strange in many ways, had chosen, by dwelling in the wilderness for the forty days and then returning to the lowly people, the fishermen about this country, a way that seemed strange for one who had mastered the teachings of the East. Therefore a question was implied when Mary told Jesus "They have no wine."

And though he said, "My time is not yet come," yet Jesus gave the commands whereby this miracle came to pass, when the water was turned into wine. Or, as expressed, caused the wine to blush--water saw its master, blushed and became wine by activity. Remember, only when it was poured out would it become wine. Had it remained still, no wine would have filled those conditions. (He said to them. "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.")

From the book "Edgar Cayce On Jesus and His Church"

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