Reading: John 2:1-11,13.
"This beginning of signs", the first miracle, the things which go to make up this basic thing (for there is no doubt about it that in its meaning, this beginning of signs is basic to everything else), the things which go to make up this basic thing are: the third day, the marriage, water, wine, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
A Marriage Relationship
Let us begin with the marriage. We were speaking about this in our previous meditation, showing that the New Covenant, or indeed, the covenant in blood, both the Old and New, was a marriage covenant. The Lord said concerning the first covenant He made with Israel that He took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt and became a husband unto them. That taking by the hand and leading out took place on the night of the Passover. The blood of the Paschal lamb was the basis of that new relationship, that new history. And the Lord said, "This shall be unto you the beginning of months" (Ex. 12:2), a new life in relationship with Himself as betrothed to the Lord on the basis of blood. The New Covenant is that; it is a marriage relationship, a betrothal, a uniting which is to have its great crowning in the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Most of what we said earlier was from one side - the Divine idea and conception of marriage being from the one side an utter abandonment in faith, in perfect trust to another. That is where we said most, but that was not the end we had in view. It is very important to realise that the blood of the Lord Jesus represents a life union, a covenant union, and that on our side it is always a matter of unreserved abandonment and committal in faith to another. That is the marriage covenant.
Of course, that is the ideal, the Divine ideal. It is not the general situation as we know it here on the earth among men, although such a thought and such a standard should be in mind among men, and would have a tremendous influence in the making of the world a great deal happier.
There is the other side, however, that if from the Divine standpoint the requirement is for an utter abandonment in faith obedience from the one side - that is, that which is represented by the bride which is the church of which we are members and in which we are involved: "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:25); "The church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28) - there is the other side also. Speaking humanly, coming down on to the human and natural level in this matter, the testimony on earth to the thing in heaven, to the spiritual thing, that abandonment must be justified upon the other side. That is, if a wife is to abandon herself unreservedly to her husband and commit her life entirely to him and forsake her own life and way to live one life with him and for him, he must be worthy of it, he must live up to that.
That is where the Holy Spirit puts such tremendous emphasis in the words in Ephesians, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church" (Eph. 5:25). "Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies For no man ever hated his own flesh" (Eph. 5:28-29). It means that on the man's side there is a tremendous standard to be maintained, for he is to be worthy of that absolute confidence and trust. That is on the human side.
It is a representation of something Divine, and the question arises: Is Christ worthy of our abandonment to Him? Does He set up a standard which justifies such an utter confidence? It is a matter of our appreciation of the Lord Jesus, as to how far we will forsake all others and cleave only to Him. It is a matter of whether we have come really to recognise His utter and absolute trustworthiness that we can commit ourselves, not only for this life, but for all eternity to Him and have no longer any interest of our own; to have everything bound up with Him. That is what He means by a marriage. He presents Himself, and presenting Himself, He interrogates, "Am I worthy of your trust? Have I merited your confidence? Do I embody the standard which will give you complete rest in handing everything over to Me? Are you going to feel that it is necessary for you to steer your own course and safeguard your own way and exercise your own independent judgment?"
Now you will see that in hundreds of ways that may work out as to our relatedness to the Lord Jesus and what marriage to the Lord means. It works out again and again as we go on as to the question of independent judgment, independent ways, the numerous causes of clash with Him on the road, and He has to come back again and again and say, "Look here, what was our covenant? What was the ground of our relationship? Did we have then any kind of understanding that we would agree on so many things, but we would agree to disagree on others, or was it complete abandonment to Me in all matters of judgment, decision and the way to be taken?"
We find it necessary from time to time to come back to what we call "the cross". We allow our own separateness in any way to be put to death in us and a new yieldedness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That stands over this first basic sign. Remember, it is a sign, it signifies something, it is basic.
The Lordship of Christ
I am tremendously impressed with Mary here. I do not know how she arrived at this - telling Him they had no wine. Why she should tell Him, and why as an aside to the servants, she said, "Whatsoever he says unto you, do it", but it is perfectly clear that she was in the place where He was Lord, and she brought this whole thing under His Lordship. She gathered it all into that. He is Lord! And really, He is Lord of this marriage. The whole thing would have broken down, would have been a fiasco, a tragedy and scandal, but for Him. He is in the place of Lordship. Mary recognised that, testified to that, and brought it through. The Lordship of Christ in the marriage - that is going to determine whether the thing is going to be a success or not. It is a major factor in this relatedness of ours to Him - whether we are going through without a shame, a scandal, a breakdown in our relatedness to the Lord depends entirely upon His Lordship. The Old Testament marriage was on that basis, for the husband was always called "lord" by the wife.
The very word used in Jer. 31:32 - "I became a husband" is one of a number of words translated 'husband'. It is only translated so three times in the Old Testament, that particular Hebrew word, and it means 'ruler': "I became a ruler". But in another place where the same word is used, it is obviously 'husband'. Husband there was the ruler. The trouble with Israel was that the Lord as the husband was not Lord, and consequently - the tragedy of Israel. Well, we will not add words to that. That is the setting to this. The marriage is set in His Lordship and whether the marriage is going to be a success or tragedy depends upon whether it is like this - "Whatsoever he says unto you, do it". If He says anything to you, do it; everything hangs upon it. Don't you do it because of what other people say. What He says, do it.
The third day; I think everything here comes within the sign. Number three in the Bible, as you know, is Divine fulness, and that is really what is very much to the fore in this whole incident.
When you come to the water, you reach a state of bankruptcy. There are great jars of water, and there is a measure of water in them. They are not full. And, mark you, they are for purification, but they are lacking. They are not at all full with water. What do those jars and the water, represent? They represent Israel, Israel's spiritual condition, inadequacy in their moral standard and their spiritual life. Look at Israel in the days of the Lord Jesus, what He had to say about their corruption, how far short they came of the Divine requirements in the matter of holiness, righteousness, truth and purity. Israel in the days of Christ was bankrupt spiritually, and that is the state to which this marriage comes - bankruptcy. The water is poor, weak, insufficient, representing Israel at that time.
The Lord Jesus comes on the scene and brings things to the full, turns it all into wine - and wine is ever the symbol of the blood, as we know. And it says, This is transition in relation to the Lord Jesus from that spiritual bankruptcy, spiritual shortage, insufficiency, weakness, disappointment, tragedy; transition from that to fulness of life in Christ, and it is in union with Christ. This marriage union with Christ sees the change from the old covenant which has not been kept, and therefore all its blessing has departed; the transition from the old covenant to the new covenant in His blood, Divine fulness.
Now, that Divine fulness demands that Jesus is absolutely Lord. It could never have been otherwise, and it demands the basis of His precious blood, His life. The new Life is this wine, the best kept till the last, the unusual, the surprise, the wonder, the glory of His life, His risen life.
Well, you see the features. The parable is very plain. Here we
are, then, taking the spiritual interpretation. It is a question
of a union with Christ; as married to the Lord. That union means
fulness, Divine fulness. That Divine fulness is by the imparting
of His miraculous life. To use the symbolic language again - it is
by the power of His blood, and it is all a question of doing what
You know there is a great deal more in this. "Mine hour is not yet", how He used that phrase through His life! It is related to the cross; it led to the cross. So the very first miracle was related to the cross. It is the blood of His cross that is meant by 'Mine hour'. Our translation of His words to His mother sounds very abrupt, but not so abrupt in the original as it sounds in our language. "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" It was not that. What He actually said was this, "Woman, you are thinking in a different realm from what I am; you and I are thinking in two different realms; the realm of which I am thinking is not your realm at the moment". Meaning this - His mother was thinking of the scandal, the shame, the embarrassment, and was hoping that He would do something, knowing, believing, that He could do something to save from the embarrassment of this breakdown. That was the realm of her mind, that He would use miraculous power to obviate a human inconvenience and embarrassment; and He was moving in another realm. 'Mine hour' is the end that governs everything; "I am moving in the realm of Mine hour, and Mine hour is the hour of the blood shedding, and this has to come into line with that!" Oh, what an immense range it is! It reaches right on to the marriage of the Lamb.